At first glance, the new production system at Weishaupt's main plant jars somewhat: The four Heckert machining centres seem somehow smaller and more compact. At the request of the customer, Starrag built the machines 750 mm into the ground in order to simplify the ergonomics and handling through ground-level accessibility, which increases productivity. This lower-level installation is just one example of the many details that can be optimised.
The skilled art of good industrial planning is evident not only in the construction of new plants (Greenfield), but above all in the modernisation of an existing plant (Brownfield). This task is made all the more difficult when the transition must take place with no downtime for ongoing operations. In 2015, this was exactly the mammoth task facing Max Weishaupt GmbH, based in Schwendi, Upper Swabia (south of Ulm): The task at hand was to upgrade the existing plant from 1992 with its five machining centres. The new production technology needed to be capable of machining the housing of the new WKmono 80 large burner; the old systems were not able to handle a burner of this size.
Visiting Heckert reference customers
Instead of simply replacing individual components of the old plant, Weishaupt decided to design a completely new plant to machine components for industrial burners of all sizes. Before deciding on the Heckert product range from Swiss company Starrag, Weishaupt also considered reference customers from Southern Germany such as Fendt, Vögele and Liebherr, who all specialise in comparable production tasks with similar machining centres.
In order to prevent production downtime, the conversion was carried out in two stages: The first stage, which took until 2016, involved constructing the first plant with a Heckert HEC 1600 and a Heckert HEC 1000. The second plant followed between 2016 and 2017, with two Heckert HEC 1000s. The new production system can machine components up to a maximum weight of 4 t, a maximum diameter of 2,800 mm and a maximum height of 2,200 mm (on the Heckert HEC 1600). A total of more than 100 storage areas—from which two large pallet systems supply the four machining centres with components and fixtures - serve as buffers for machining the approximately 450 different components (batch sizes 1 to 250) in two-shift operation. Thanks to this generously proportioned handling and storage system, around 90 clamping devices are available at all times. Each production system has three set-up points, which are adjustable in height between 50 mm and 650 mm. This ensures that the new plant, delivers a high degree of flexibility and is extremely ergonomic. As each machining centre has 240 tool slots, each tool is available for machining at any time and can be immediately inserted into the spindle - from the 5-mm deep-hole drill to the milling cutter with carbide indexable insert.
The Heckert large-scale machining centres were the answer to smooth interchangeability of pallets and fixtures for the two differently sized machining centres. They allow Weishaupt to switch easily from one machine to another. Starrag was able to make interchangeability a reality.