SEW-Eurodrive China is making important savings by receiving local support for the regular servicing of their machine tool spindles.
It says a lot about the quality and reputation of SEW-Eurodrive that, of the very many prestigious companies that were considered, they were selected as the sole supplier for all drive engineering equipment for the Beijing Olympics’ stunning opening and closing ceremonies. It was their geared motors and frequency inverters that safely and effortlessly raised the Olympic rings, opened and closed the main stage, adjusted the roof, and provided the power for the lifting equipment that lit the stage, and moved cameras and people all around the breathtaking Birds Nest stadium.
Much of the equipment and systems supplied to the Olympic project were manufactured locally, in Tianjin, just 160 kilometres from Beijing. It is in Tianjin that SEW-Eurodrive have focused their manufacturing centre for the Asia-Pacific region where they produce products with the same technology, equipment and quality as is made at the company’s home base in Germany. Among the manufacturing facilities in Tianjin is SEW-Precision Gears, an 110,000 m2 factory that opened in September 2007. Although serving customers and applications all over Asia, one big local customer is the Port of Tianjin; the largest man made seaport and river port in mainland China.
After 1 year in operation the Tianjin gear plant management were looking ahead anticipating a heavy manufacturing programme that would require regular ‘servicing’ of one of their core technology products; the machine tool spindles. With more than 50 cutting, drilling and grinding machines covering 13 models from 10 different manufacturers, the logistics and efforts needed to set up refurbishing at the original manufacturer would be very time consuming and costly. Spindles would have to be taken out of the machines, packaged and shipped back to the manufacturers, which were all in Europe. Together with the time to refurbish the spindle and send it back to Tianjin and rebuild it in the machine, the complete cycle time would be months rather than weeks. And because of the number of different machine models the spindle dismantling process could be expected to add even more time because basically it would have to be re-learned each time a spindle from a particular machine needed repairing. Realising that a time consuming and costly road lay ahead of them the factory management started to look for ways to speed up the service time for the refurbishing of their machine tool spindles
Just two days before the Beijing Olympics were opened, SKF opened its very first Solution Factory, and that was in Shanghai. An SKF Solution Factory is single location that brings together SKF expert knowledge from more than 40 segments, its own 5 Technology Platforms, and its complete range of service offerings. And one of the service offerings available at the Shanghai Solution Factory was repair and reconditioning of machine tool spindles. The SEW-Precision Gears General Manager was introduced to the Shanghai Solution Factory and was immediately impressed by the fact that SKF’s spindle service covered a very wide range of machine tools and an equally wide range of manufacturers, including all those at the Tianjin plant. At the first opportunity the General Manager sent a spindle to the Shanghai Solution Factory for reconditioning. It was returned very fast, compared to the time taken if it had been sent to Europe, and was put back into production. By the time SKF’s second Solution Factory was opened, in Tianjin in March 2009, the repaired spindle was still performing exceptionally well.
As one of the 200 guests attending the inauguration of the Tianjin Solution Factory the SEW General Manager could see himself what spindle service SKF had to offer locally. Realising the great potential this had for SEW he sent a spindle for repair along with 2 senior persons to check out all stages of the process. They saw that all key processes including final noise and vibration testing, were available, well executed and well controlled. Encouraged by the results of this ‘test’ SEW embarked on a wider test that included 8 spindles, some from different machines. This would be a much tougher test because of the different spindle designs that needed to be reconditioned. To his great satisfaction these spindles also returned and were put back in operation with no problems. This gave confidence to SEW that SKF could satisfy all their needs, identified one year earlier, and they signed an open-ended contract in July 2009 for the repair and reconditioning of all their spindles. The benefits to SEW, compared to sending spindles to Europe, are expected to be almost 50% reduced costs and more than 50% savings on ‘repair cycle time’.
As well as spindle reconditioning services an SKF Solution Factory has a wide range of other services designed to get customized solutions developed or delivered very quickly. Among these services are; applications engineering, bearing analysis and remanufacturing, linear motion systems, power transmission solutions, lubrication analysis, sealing solutions, lubrication systems, mechanical and maintenance equipment services, remote condition monitoring and diagnostics, engineering consultancy services, asset managements, energy and sustainability management, and operator/worker training.