At IGW, innovation is our middle name
11 December, 2020
What makes a good gear manufacturer? Reliability of the products and excellent service are obviously the foremost criteria. However, to remain at the head of the queue, it’s important to keep innovating as well. Maintaining a critical mindset and looking for ways to make production more efficient are key for any leading manufacturer. As it happens, we have a number of exciting innovation projects currently running at our plants in Oostkamp, Iasi and Brno.
First up, Oostkamp
First up for our Belgian colleagues in Oostkamp are finding an innovative turning strategy for breaking long chips in turning operations. When we are turning web geometries, sometimes long chips can form which block the chip conveyors. As a possible solution, we have already tested various inserts to diminish the problem, some with very promising results. To find the most ideal one, we will test the most promising strategies in the proto shop department of VCST Belgium. Consequently, the innovation department has shared ideas and experiences from other plants and has lined up some innovative methods to break the long chips.
A second innovation project in Oostkamp is aiming to introduce smart centring tools for shaft manufacturing. In shaft manufacturing, most of the gears or splines on the shafts need to be centred or running against 2 outside journals. However, it takes up a considerable amount of time to set up and load the 2 journals and get them running without a runout. Additionally, for some shafts, we noticed that the shaft collars or rings tend to shrink which introduces stresses and deformations to the shafts themselves. As a consequence of the deformations, the journals need to be recentred again. To combat this problem, we will introduce innovative self-centring rests and smart jaws to reduce set up and adjustment time.
Next up, Iasi
At our plant in Iasi, we make a considerable number of components with internal or external polygonal features. These polygonal shapes have to be very accurate and therefore, sophisticated grinding operations are necessary to achieve the accuracy. Therefore, Process Innovation is looking into the possibilities of adding polygonal grinding features to the machines currently available. One of the options currently being explored is to see whether polygonal grinding is also possible on our universal ID grinders.
Our second innovation project in Iasi is aimed at improving runout and pitch deviation on hub gears. Indeed, the hub gears for couplings have rather narrow runout specifications on the outside diameter and on the pitch diameter. As a result, production sometimes faced difficulties to reach the drawing specifications. As a solution to the problem, we have tried to hob the outside diameter with a separate circular mill in the hobbing machine. Doing so means that the pitch and outside diameter can be machined in one clamping to get them perfectly aligned with each other. As a result, the run time for hub gears can be shortened, meaning that a higher efficiency is achieved.
Final stop: Brno
We currently have an innovation project in Brno focussed on improving the accuracy in the turning of cones for hub gears. To keep the profile deviation of the cones between 7 and 13 micrometres, we are currently experimenting with polish grinding during the turning process. This way, we keep the advantages of turning, remove material quickly and eliminate masking. Currently, we are in stage 1 and 2 of the testing, which is only small scale. Once we see significant improvement, the tests will be more intensified.
As you can see from these projects, process innovation is a process that requires patience and vision. Nevertheless, we are determined to keep innovating and to ensure that we do our utmost to make every project come to a successful ending.