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December 2017
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Siemens and Konecranes machine tool service combine for winning retrofit partnership

When looking to advance their job-shop capabilities, machining center managers are often confronted with making the difficult but necessary choice between a premium option and a cost-effective one. While every manager would love to take advantage of the industry’s latest innovations, not every budget committee is willing to pay for them, and so the discussion of improvement usually ends in a compromise. Recent developments in the CNC controls industry have changed the dynamics of this discussion. The Siemens Drive Technologies Division, a leading supplier of products and services for machine tools and production machines, recently introduced a new CNC for compact class machine tools that brings premium capabilities into a new price bracket.  When installed as part of a retrofit provided by Siemens qualified Solution Partners, the 828D CNC provides a gateway for economical, technological advances.  

Many users in the industry are familiar with the Siemens SINUMERIK 840D control, a digital CNC system designed for highly sophisticated tasks. This state-of-the-art system provides the highest degree of performance and flexibility for complex multi-axis systems, with scalable hardware and software.

However, the SINUMERIK 840D has mostly proven popular with expensive, highly complex aerospace manufacturing operations that demand this sort of precision as a given. Looking to bring its advantages to a new market, Siemens Industry, Inc. developed the SINUMERIK 828D numerical control for compact class machine tools. This control combines CNC, PLC, operator panel, and axis control for six CNC measurement circuits in a single robust operator panel. Outfitted with intelligent kinematic transformations, an efficient tool management system and 80-bit floating point nano precision, the new control benefits from a range of performance features previously reserved for the premium CNC control segment. 

Its most important characteristic, however, may be its flexibility. “The 828D package comes with new, compatible drives and motors, so that the control is ready to operate upon installation,” explained Harold Schoch, Sales Director for the Americas at Konecranes Machine Tool Services division, a Siemens Solution Partner. “Additionally, it is capable of working with every type of CNC programming method used around the world.” The 828D is able to perform with such flexibility because of its extensive CNC programming package. It can achieve full graphical, high-level language command, and offers support for the ISO programming commonly used in Asia and the United States.

In addition, the 828D is available in both a horizontal and a vertical version, to fit any operator panel housing. It can also be configured for both milling and turning applications. The milling version is precisely tailored to the requirements of vertical machining centers with additional machine components, while the turning version is specifically designed for single-channel slant-bed lathes.

Because the turning and milling versions are tailored to the relevant machine technology, the system software is substantially less complex in comparison with universal systems. System parameters are pre-defined, reducing the work involved in commissioning to a minimum for the machine manufacturer. The 828D also features the Siemens Easy Extend technology, allowing the machine tool builder to manage additional components simply and quickly. When specialized CNC expertise is no longer required for mounting components in the field, machine shop owners can enjoy considerable service cost savings.

“When you buy the Siemens 828D, it comes with the whole control package, with the motors and drive included,” said Schoch. “This offers tremendous convenience and flexibility that the customers are really going to like.”

Lastly, the SINUMERIK 828D is a user-oriented control, with new features that make production monitoring a more modern and manageable process. These include extensive online help animations and an input prompting system with moving picture sequences. Its Easy Message functionality also makes the machine shop mobile, by providing production status monitoring via text message (SMS).

“The most succinct way to put it,” explained Tom Curfiss, Retrofit Business Manager at Siemens, “is that the 828D offers a medium-range control at a lower-medium-range cost. Customers get more state-of-the-art technology for less money.”

Konecranes Machine Tool Service, a designated Siemens solution partner, is one of the world’s largest international machine tool service providers, with local services for all types and brands of machine tools in many countries across the globe. Siemens Solution Partners are an elite group of trusted service providers, representing the best options for the engineering, system integration and implementation of superior, tailored, future-oriented solutions. 

With nearly 40 years of experience in the industry, Konecranes Machine Tool Service has performed scores of retrofits on almost every make and model on the market. They’ve found that companies prefer a retrofit for a variety of reasons: to optimize existing shop components, to save on capital while benefiting from cutting-edge technologies, to adapt the shop to produce new products or to increase cycle time. Retrofits allow companies to enjoy these benefits without the upfront expense of a new machine.

In addition, with qualified retrofitters such as Konecranes Machine Tool Service, companies can minimize the downtime associated with a retrofit. Konecranes Machine Tool Service, for instance, modularizes the retrofit process in order to streamline installation on the customer end. With an experienced partner, customers can relax and relinquish responsibility for the project with confidence. “Konecranes Machine Tool Service has a very wide set of capabilities,” said Curfiss, “You can give any sort of project to them and expect an excellent result.”

There are other benefits to working with Siemens Solution Partners. Most pressing for shops looking to save money, Solutions Partners enjoy reduced costs from Siemens. “This is state-of-the-art electronics,” said Schoch, “And yet, customers can install the 828D for about 60 percent of what a typical control retrofitter would charge. Siemens has made an introductory offer on this product that is, quite frankly, stunning.” 

Compact class machine tool owners must struggle to address both accelerating industry demands and decreasing available capital. Retrofitting with a Siemens 828D control provides machine shop managers with a new option that can meet both budgetary constraints and shop needs. In order to accelerate and optimize the process, customers can also turn to qualified retrofitting experts like Konecranes Machine Tool Service for an installation that minimizes both cost and downtime.