Q&A with Dennis Richmond

Vice President, Reishauer Corporation

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Reishauer has a range of gear grinding machines. What sort of capabilities do you offer?

We have a family of smaller grinding machines with capacities up to 260 mm, all sharing a common platform and axial travel range but with different module and grinding speed capabilities. The RZ 60 model has a range of up to 3 module and was designed primarily for automotive applications, the RZ 160 up to 4 module, and the RZ 260 can grind gears with modules up to 5. These machines are ideally suited for medium- to high-volume applications.

All of these models can be, and often are, equipped with two work spindles. While the grinding operation is ongoing on one spindle, the other work spindle is being unloaded and loaded. Stock division also takes place at this time to synchronize the teeth of the gear to the threads in the grinding wheel. You have only five seconds of idle time from piece to piece. Minimizing the non-productive times was one of the design goals of this group of machines. Most of these machines are equipped as standard with two-work spindles. However, they can be ordered in a single-spindle execution for those who want the flexibility of a CNC machine but either don’t have the volume or don’t want to buy two fixtures for every part that they manufacture.

What would be the advantage of choosing a single-spindle machine?

Most manufacturers that have the two-spindle machine use both of them all or most of the time. However, that’s not necessary. Sometimes the volume of a particular part doesn’t warrant the additional expense of a second clamping fixture, which can cost as much as $15,000 depending on the manufacturer and type. Lot sizes of 200-300 gears may not justify the added tooling expense, so you can choose to operate the two-spindle machine as a single-spindle machine, eliminating the additional expense while at the same time reducing the throughput efficiency as compared to a two-spindle machine. Whether the machine is equipped with one or two workspindles, it occupies the same floor space; the only difference is in the configuration of the turret.

Do you sell many of these?

We sell a handful of these single-spindle grinders, mostly to job shops and OEMs. Some shops have several parts to produce, but not all are high-volume parts. They still need the flexibility, though. These machines, while equipped with only one work spindle, can be prepared for later retrofit of a second work spindle if they choose to do so. Typical lot sizes for these machines are less than 200 pieces—it doesn’t make sense for some gear manufacturers to tool up a second work spindle for the lower volumes. However, they still need the productivity, reliability, flexibility, and accuracy that our machines offer.

The RZ 550 and its smaller version the RZ 410 were specifically designed for job shops. That said, we have more than 40 of them at Ford Motor Company in Ohio to grind final drive gears. Customer profiles for these machines are those that manufacture construction equipment, agricultural, aircraft and aerospace, truck and tractor, and automotive applications that are larger than 260 mm in diameter.

The machines are obviously very flexible in their capabilities. Any other advantages?

One of the interesting things we did with the RZ 550 was to design the machine with a planetary friction drive, meaning there are no gears used in the work spindle. Every gear in the machine tool, no matter how good it is, leaves a fingerprint on the gear that you’re grinding. So the best work spindle design is one without gears. That’s one of the reasons we’re so successful with this machine; we have more than 300 of them in the field today. It’s still one of our best-selling machines.

Tell our readers a little bit about Reishauer.

Reishauer is a worldwide company. Our main plant is located in Wallisellen, Switzerland. There, we employ approximately 450 employees. We have satellite locations around the world in Russia, Japan, France, the UK, and China. Here in the U.S., we provide sales of new machines, service, spare parts, and technical support. We typically stock an inventory of enough parts to rebuild any of our machines with the exception of major castings. Parts are normally available in less than 48 hours. We also stock diamond dressing tools at this location as well as provide new wheel profiling for Reishauer-manufactured grinding wheels. We service the NAFTA market from our facility located in Elgin, Illinois.

The reason people choose Reishauer over our competition is the “cost of ownership.” We have been awarded many contracts because we provide the fastest cycle time, lowest perishable cost per piece, and the longest MTBF (mean time between failures). We also use energy-efficient drives and motors on the machines. The purchase price may not be the lowest, but considering all the associated costs, our customers believe we set the industry standard for gear grinding machines.

MORE INFORMATION: Please visit www.reishauer.com or call 847-888-3828.