Case Study: Machining Equipment Flexible manufacturing system successfully implemented

Editor: Steffen Donath

Aircraft supplier Premium Aerotec opted once more for Starrag machinign centres. The new Ecospeed F 2040 is cimprised of two linked machining centres and convinced the company.

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The angled milling head makes it possible to carry out special cutting and drilling operations.
The angled milling head makes it possible to carry out special cutting and drilling operations.
(Source: Aerotec)

For Premium Aerotec, Europe’s biggest aircraft manufacturer, cutting pocket corners with an only slightly inclined land is a routine task that requires the angular position to be changed. While standard fork-type milling heads typically make huge swivel movements to do this, the tripod heads used in the Ecospeed have significantly faster and more dynamic machining capabilities. Due to these advantages, there are now 13 Ecospeed centres in use in Varel.

“In addition to their reliability, it was the high overall dynamism of the Ecospeed machines that won us over,” explains Christian Welter, Head of Large-Part Production at Premium Aerotec. “This is why we chose two Ecospeed F 2040 machines as our latest investment, which have been linked to create a flexible manufacturing system.” This is the newest highlight of Hall 8, where Starrag machining centres with a drive power of 120 kW currently take centre stage. An angled milling head that can be changed automatically now enables aluminium workpieces measuring up to four metres long to be machined on the FMS — not just completely but in a single clamping position too.

Linked systems are the preferred choice at the Varel plant. “We want to keep set-up separate from actual machining,” says Welter. “And this works extremely well with the new Ecospeed F 2040 FMS, where we have operators work at separate set-up stations.” The new flexible manufacturing system (FMS) consists of two Ecospeed F 2040s, a conveyor system with double loading trolley, a ground-level set-up point and storage for machine pallets measuring 2,000 mm x 4,000 mm. The machining centres operate at a nominal output of 120 kW and a nominal speed of 30,000 rpm. The duo enables highly dynamic five-axis simultaneous machining with up to 1-g acceleration and a maximum jolt of 250 m/s³. The FMS boasts an angled milling head with an HSK A63/80 interface. This head can be changed automatically and receives tools from the tool change system automatically too. The angled milling head also carries out cutting and drilling operations, which used to be done on a machine supplied by a competitor of Starrag. To keep the footprint small, save space and facilitate maintenance, auxiliary units and control cubicles are installed on a peripheral platform above the conveyor system.

But what is it that is particularly appealing about this latest investment, especially in the context of the Starrag claim ‘Engineering precisely what you value’? For Welter, the principal advantage is the level of performance that can already be seen from this highly dynamic pairing, despite the fact that it has only recently been introduced as part of series production — resulting in a 10 to 15 % reduction in running time in comparison to older Ecospeed systems.

Premium Aerotec

Premium Aerotec GmbH is a manufacturer of structures and manufacturing systems for aircraft construction and has its headquarters in Augsburg, Germany. Today the company employs around 1,600 staff and produces nearly 5 million components a year.