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The Heller DNA In Five Axes

The Heller DNA in Five Axes

Here’s how 5-axis machines are providing manufacturers the necessary flexibility that is indispensable to customers today. Article by Heller.

The manufacturing industry has continually grappled with the notion of creating products faster, better and cheaper. But the advancement of manufacturing technologies come with its own set of challenges that manufacturers have to deal with in their quest towards more-efficient and cost-effective manufacturing of high-quality products.

For example, the aerospace manufacturing industry has to continually evolve to ensure cost and weight savings, while dealing with the use of fibre composites and difficult materials, including titanium alloys or Inconel. The developments in aerospace designs are resulting to aero-engine parts with the highest demands on dimensional, shape and position tolerances.

READ: Heller Discusses Advantages of HMCs

In the automotive manufacturing industry, chief among the challenges now are the increasingly shorter innovation cycles, growing model diversity, and intense cost pressure. Automotive and parts manufacturers dealing with systems such as small, two-cylinder engines to the V12; from the light-duty passenger cars to heavy duty trucks; all the way to components for powertrains, drivelines and chassis; and engine blocks, cylinder heads, transmission housings, crankshafts, camshafts, etc.—are struggling to ensure minimal part costs, reduce idle times, maximize productivity and flexibility of their manufacturing systems, and maintain high machine availability and reliability.

Meanwhile, flexibility is the name of the game when it comes to manufacturing parts for the energy industry, where small batch sizes, high part diversity, and manufacturing on demand are the norm. Manufacturers catering to this sector need to have a high degree of standardisation, increased efficiency, high precision, high availability, and shorter setting times when it comes to their machines.

Scalability, Efficiency and Easy Integration

Now more than ever, machine tools should empower users with scalability and efficiency, and enable easy integration into flexible manufacturing systems. Sturdy machine engineering, profound process experience, comprehensive milling expertise—these are the basic characteristics of Heller machine tools. Since the 1980s, the company has expanded its machine portfolio of proven 4-axis machining centres with 5-axis machines. Despite their varied and versatile applications, all machines share the typical Heller genes of quality, productivity and reliability in day-to-day production.

With the introduction of the F series in 2009, Heller opened a new chapter in terms of the process-secure 5-sided and simultaneous 5-axis machining. The fifth axis of the F series is provided by the tool and the machines can either be equipped with swivel-head or fork-head kinematics. The series has been designed especially with those users in mind who need to accomplish a wide range of tasks on a single machine.

READ: Heller HF Series 5-Axis Machining Centres

Meanwhile, the premise with the C series of machining centres is combined processing, since these machines do not only provide powerful milling but also turning capabilities. This machine provides economically efficient cutting data with workpiece rotations of up to 1,000 RPM for performance-oriented pre-machining and finishing true to the final contour. The swivel head or fork head and the high-speed rotary table enable hassle-free horizontal and vertical turning operations of outer and inner contours.

The modular MC 20 machining centres are ideally suited for integration into flexible manufacturing systems and for highly productive series production of light-duty automotive components, and are also available with direct loading. In standard design, they feature four axes, but they can also be equipped with a fifth axis provided by the workpiece as an option. The compact machines in modular design are scalable and can be linked to an automated manufacturing system at any time.

Logical Expansion

The latest machine development, the HF series, is the logical expansion of Heller’s product portfolio in the 5-axis range of machines. These highly productive and flexibly applicable machines provide great ease of use and are available with pallet changer or in table design. Contrary to the C and F series, the fifth axis of the HF series is provided by the workpiece. Rigidity is guaranteed due to the robust cast machine bed combined with a weight-optimised steel machine column.

READ: The Perfect Combination for Structural Parts—Faster, Better, Lower Cutting Forces

At the core of the dynamic drive concept are the ball-screw driven linear axes equipped with anti-friction guideways. The NC swivel rotary table equipped with two direct driven rotary axes maintains its rigidity even under high loads due to a counter bearing combined with a YRT bearing. In short, the HF is optimally equipped for the exacting requirements of modern production processes and therefore the ideal machining centre for the manufacture of complex components.

In addition to the specific light-duty applications of the 4-axis and 5-axis machining centres and the possibility of integrating them into flexible manufacturing systems, the three series—F, C and HF—can be combined with workpiece or pallet automation without any problem, offering a wide range of options in terms of workpiece and tool management. As a result, all Heller 5-axis machining centres can be perfectly integrated into any specific manufacturing environment, thus offering the necessary flexibility that is indispensable to customers today.


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Heller Discusses Advantages Of HMCs

Heller Discusses Advantages of HMCs

Andrew Parkin, chief representative for Asia at Heller, talks about Heller’s activities in Asia, horizontal machining centres (HMCs), and trends shaping the metalworking industry. Article by Stephen Las Marias.

Andrew Parkin

At the recent EMO Hannover 2019 exhibition in Germany, Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News sat down with Andrew Parkin, chief representative for Asia at Heller, to talk about Heller’s activities in Asia and their growth drivers. He also discussed horizontal machining centres (HMCs), and why the company focuses on this segment.

Tell us more about Heller in Asia and your role in the company.

Andrew Parkin (AP): Heller is a traditional German machine tool builder. We have been building machines for 125 years now; so, we are celebrating our anniversary this year. Right now, our focus is in four- and five-axis horizontal milling and milling/turning machining centres, and we have a global footprint to support this.

I have been in the company for 11 years. I left the UK in 1984, so I’ve lived in Asia now for more than 30 years. I was brought in to manage all of the operations Heller has in Asia. I am responsible for the four companies we have in China, the company we have in Singapore, in Thailand, and in Pune, India.

What opportunities and trends are you seeing in southeast Asia?

AP: Southeast Asia is a very important region for us. Based on potential, all of the ASEAN region together represent a very high consumption percentage of the global total. The difficulties, of course, are the different cultures and the different markets—you got a Thai culture, a Malaysian culture, an Indonesian culture, a Singaporean culture—these have to be managed carefully. We manage this from two operations: we have an operation in Singapore—which is our headquarters in Southeast Asia—and we have an operation in Thailand, focusing on the Thai automotive and aerospace sectors.

Apart from culture, what other challenges do you experience in southeast Asia?

AP: The challenges are varying. A lot of our customers have a Japanese background, for example, and we are very German. A lot of our customers have different manufacturing methods; a lot of customers have different relationships; and a few are challenged with financial goals. There’s always the difficulty of fluctuating currencies in the region. On top of that, language is often a barrier when it comes to explaining things and doing service jobs—so, it is not so easy. But it is a very rewarding market.

Are there particular industries in the region that are driving growth for Heller?

AP: We have been driven by various industries; but at present, the big drivers are automotive, general mechanical engineering and aerospace, where Heller has a lot of advantages due to the stability of the machines. If you are machining difficult materials such as Inconel-based materials or titanium-based materials, you need a very strong and rigid machine in order to reduce vibration. Vibration takes the edge of the cutting tool—that’s the only interface to the workpiece and the cutting tool—and tool life shortening means a longer cycle time. In some of the components we are machining, we have more than 50 hours machining time. If you save 10 percent of that, that’s a lot of time.


How do you help your customers on their smarter manufacturing journey?

AP: Some customers would like to have it all straightaway from the beginning; while the others like the most cost-effective solution, and then they add a lot of these processes to the system as it is going on. That’s one of the advantages of dealing with Heller: we are predominantly a technical and engineering based company who work together with customers in steps and stages for the whole duration of the machine tool’s life. So, we have some customers who have 20-year-old machines who we still service and modify for them. This is part of our core business.

Earlier on, you mentioned that the company focuses only on horizontal machining products. why is this so?

AP: Horizontal machining offers you more stability and accuracy. When you have more stability, you have a higher metal removal rate—that is the main difference between the vertical and horizontal option. We don’t manufacture vertical machines; we manufacture five-axis machines where you can move the head into the vertical machining position, but that’s basically a horizontal machine with a five axis. By the way, we have also 5-axis machining centres with the fifth axis in the workpiece and a horizontal spindle completing our comprehensive product range.

What’s your outlook for next year?

AP: There has been a downturn this year; there are political uncertainties in the market now, which are making people invest in a more cautious manner. There are also disruptive elements in the market. Electromobility is going to change the way we drive a lot, and we have to keep our eye on this.

At Heller, we are not seeing such a pronounced downturn because we do have a lot of manufacturing solutions for so many different industry segments, so we are doing a lot of modification work, and we do a lot more redeployment work—redeployment is where we take all the machines and put them on the new products. All in all, we are still very busy.

Where the market goes, I expect a rebound in the second or third quarter next year.

Are there any new applications that you see emerging soon?

AP: There are new applications emerging and there are also new materials emerging. And one of the trends is that everybody wants to machine these materials in a lights-off environment. That means many more of our customers are forcing us towards automation, and machinery and equipment that almost run itself. Heller is completely open as far as the three main groups of automation—overhead loading, pallet automation and flexible robot cells—are concerned when it comes to enhancing productivity, availability and economic efficiency.

This means as well we need to be a lot cleverer with software interfaces to the machine, because there’s nobody monitoring the machine anymore. If the machine has a problem, we have to know this. We have packages for Industry 4.0, we call it Heller4Industry. Within this, we have modules for preventive maintenance, for machine monitoring, and for production optimisation; all of these things are being used at the moment and pushing us in this direction.

Is the umati standard something you are looking at?

AP: As a core partner of umati, the universal machine interface developed on the initiative of VDW, HELLER has the finger on the pulse of the industry as far as digitisation is concerned. We like to adopt an active role in the design to promote our idea of a universal compatibility of different machines, units and software.

Do you have any final comments?

AP: I would just like to say it is an interesting time we are in. We believe quality is selling. The industry sector we are involved in is becoming more complicated because the standards are becoming much tighter, the tolerance is becoming much lower, and the materials are becoming much tougher to machine—therefore, I see a bright future for companies like Heller.


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HELLER Receives Third Supplier Of The Year Award From GM

HELLER Receives Third Supplier of the Year Award from GM

For the third time in a row, General Motors (GM) has honoured HELLER as one of the best suppliers in 2018 in the Indirect Material and Machinery category. Wolfgang Märker, Vice President Crankshaft/Camshaft, and Marc St-Pierre, Head of Sales at HELLER USA, accepted the trophy on behalf of HELLER during a gala event at the GM headquarters in Detroit in May. In total, GM works with about 20,000 suppliers, and he best 133 of them were presented with an award at the event.

“For many years, we have had a very cooperative relationship with GM based on mutual trust and solution-oriented collaboration,” said Märker. HELLER received the award for the RFK and DRZ range of crankshaft machines used throughout GM production lines for the various engine types around the globe. “Our machines are employed in the manufacture of a wide range of GM’s engines from 3-cylinder through to V8 engines,” explained Märker.

Happy repeat award winners Marc St-Pierre, Head of Sales at HELLER USA and Wolfgang Märker, Vice President Crankshaft/Camshaft at HELLER (both in the middle) together with Kurt Wiese, Executive Director GM & Vice President Global Manufacturing Engineering, (left) and Paris Pavlou, Executive Director GM & Vice President Purchasing & Supply Chain.

Happy repeat award winners Marc St-Pierre, Head of Sales at HELLER USA and Wolfgang Märker, Vice President Crankshaft/Camshaft at HELLER (both in the middle) together with Kurt Wiese, Executive Director GM & Vice President Global Manufacturing Engineering, (left) and Paris Pavlou, Executive Director GM & Vice President Purchasing & Supply Chain.

Using HELLER machines has allowed GM to achieve a significant reduction in production costs. This, in addition to the consistently high precision and reliability, was definitely one of the main reasons that have made HELLER a repeat award winner. “Our suppliers are of paramount importance to us. In the past year, our suppliers have again provided top-quality innovations and technologies, enabling us to build and maintain long-term relationships with our customers,” Steve Kiefer, Senior Vice President Global Purchasing and Supply Chain at GM, said.

This year, the award ceremony was held at the automobile group’s headquarters in Detroit and was attended by CEO Mary Barra. According to Märker this showed the high appreciation GM has for its suppliers. To Marc St-Pierre, Head of Sales at HELLER USA, the award is a recognition of their good cooperation: “The General Motors and HELLER Partnership has proven to be a great example of how a collaborative exchange of solutions and ideas to help both our companies succeed.  The truly open and sharing type of environment GM and HELLER have fostered has led to true synergy in production system productions and solutions.  It has been a real win-win relationship and the results and our much-appreciated support by GM are evident in the successful systems we have produced together.”



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Heller HF Series 5-Axis Machining Centres

Heller HF Series 5-Axis Machining Centres

Heller’s HF Series 5-axis machining centres comprise the HF 3500 and HF 5500 models. The main target groups for this new machine concept are the automotive industry, its suppliers and the general machine-building industry.

The machining centres from the new series feature a fifth axis provided by the workpiece, and have been designed for dynamic 5-sided as well as simultaneous 5-axis machining. The horizontal spindle, for example, enables fast tool changes.

Our solution competence comprises a wide range of parts and materials machined under the most diverse conditions – watch our video about the machining of aluminium.

The model HF 3500 allows a maximum permissible workpiece weight of 550 kg, while the model HF 5500 enables a workpiece weight of 750 kg.



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Heller HF5500 5-Axis Machining Centre

Heller HF5500 5-Axis Machining Centre

Heller HF5500 5-Axis Machining Centre is equipped with a pallet changer and provides a work envelope of 900 by 950 by 900 mm and a maximum pallet load of 750 kg. Multiple clamping or the clamping of very large components are also possible, such as transmission cases using “window-type” fixtures.

The Heller HF5500 5-Axis Machining Centre series will also come with the Heller Operation Interface, a new operating panel with 61 cm screen and touch controls. The HF5500 5-Axis Machining Centre optional work area camera, for example, has setting and monitoring functions during the CNC process.

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Digitisation Of Production In Industry 4.0

Digitisation of Production In Industry 4.0

How are machine tool makers incorporating Industry 4.0 in their machining centres and beyond? By Michael E Neumann

Machine tool manufacturer Industry 4.0 Heller has been providing a range of products for decades, mainly comprising four and five-axis machining centres, mill/turning centres and flexible manufacturing systems.

In terms of Industry 4.0, the company is looking at even higher machine productivity and supporting consistent engineering chains. This also includes looking at supplementary machine functions, on-demand services and enhanced service capabilities.

Reducing Cycle Times With machine tool Industry 4.0

The company hopes to illustrate the importance of ease of operation, customised workpiece manufacturing and enhanced evaluation of existing data on three main fronts:

  1. The Industry 4.0 Heller4 Operation is an operator-oriented user interface for the company’s machines. The use of touch controls at the tool/workpiece loading station enables Industry 4.0 robust operation. The new operator panel also allows specific programs from web environments to be run.
  2. Secondly, Heller4 Services comprises of digital services. The Services Interface focusses on the transparency of Industry 4.0 manufacturing and maintenance processes. The module forms the basis for evaluations and statistics, thus providing support in reducing machine downtimes. Additionally, the visualisation of specific information, including status displays of axes, spindles or other assemblies, enables users to determine where and to take preventive measures in order to avoid unscheduled downtimes.
  3. Finally, Heller4 Performance comprises the machine analysis for process and performance optimisation, time-synchronous extraction of real-time data into the internet as well as evaluation and graphical display, using an external cloud platform.

All this is aimed at reducing the customer’s cycle times, and thus workpiece costs, by providing greater productivity through greater ease of use of the machine, optimal integration into the network and expanded functionalities and service possibilities.

Additionally, flexible integration into existing production systems is also a focus, with new machining centres enabling continued use of existing tools from other Heller machines and the use of manual clamping fixtures. Adaptation of hydraulically operated clamping fixtures is also possible.

Active Evaluation

The company also founded a new business and technologies development division to explore new technologies in 2010, such as ways to reduce CO2 emissions and fuel consumption of combustion engines, electromobility, lightweight construction and Industry 4.0 machine tool.

In collaboration with a team from application development, application assembly and sales, the division developed the CylinderBoreCoating (CBC) process, a technology for the coating of cylinder bores of aluminium crankcases using electric arc wire spraying.

The company states that the coating results in a 50 percent reduction in friction forces between the cylinder and the piston ring, enabling a more compact crankcase design and significantly reduced cylinder bore spacing. This results in a reduction in engine size and weight savings.

Reduce Idle Times

The division also developed and launched solutions in response to Industry 4.0, called Heller4Industry. A feature would be tool provisioning. Tool magazines are usually loaded in a manner that provides optimal storage capacity. However, this often means the tool access sequence is different from the sequence of machining operations. The distance from the tool to the spindle has a significant influence on how long the tool change takes.

To reduce these idle times, workpiece details to be optimised can be selected from pallet management and transferred to the cloud. Both tool change times and tool idle times are then analysed and evaluated in view of the sorting order, providing the shortest idle times for the given workpiece and the machining operation. The CNC program for re-sorting the tool magazine is then generated in the cloud and provided to the machine.

Integrating Downstream Machining

Another current project is Industry 4.0 metal additive manufacturing. The experts are working on a cost-effective process machine tool, providing high material application rates in an industrial environment supplemented by downstream machining.

The Industry 4.0 idea is to use this technology for making additions to the component whilst integrating downstream machining operations in order to achieve the required drawing specifications. As with CBC, the goal is to find solutions for relevant applications in series production for the general machine and automotive industry.

Other developments of new business and technologies development division focus on light-weight construction. The demand for lighter vehicles inevitably requires the use of light metals and carbon fibre-based plastics, where research is underway on the most appropriate machining processes.

Flexible integration into existing production systems should be a focus for manufacturers Industry 4.0.

Flexible integration into existing production systems should be a focus for manufacturers.

Research is underway for the most appropriate machining processes in light-weight automotive construction machine tool Industry 4.0

Research is underway for the most appropriate Industry 4.0 machining processes in light-weight automotive construction.

To reduce idle times, workpiece details can be selected from pallet management machine tool and transferred to the cloud Industry 4.0

To reduce idle times Industry 4.0, workpiece details can be selected from pallet management and transferred to the cloud.

Due to flexible complete machining on a 5-axis machining centre, machine tool costs can be reduced Industry 4.0.

Due to flexible complete machining on a 5-axis machining centre, costs can be reduced.



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