Q&A with Rich Piselli

President R.P. Machine Enterprises, Inc.

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Thanks for the tour of your new facility. Watching the new Gould & Eberhardt machines being built was an impressive sight.
And well worth the investment. These machines are the only American-made hobbers and gashers large enough to cut the huge gears required by the wind-energy industry, so we built a new 40,000 square-foot facility with two 20-ton overhead cranes, along with office space for the G&E engineers and associated staff. We purchased G&E in 2005, and we’ve since taken what was best about this well-known line and updated it not only in terms of the current leading-edge technologies, but also to meet the demands of emerging markets, chief among them wind power. But our OEM work is in addition to what we’re already known for, which includes our extensive inventory of reconditioned gear machines and our remanufacturing and retrofitting services. We have in-depth knowledge of every kind of machine you can imagine, including Gleason, Fellows, Liebherr, Mitsubishi, Lorenz, and Pfauter.
Tell us more about the different G&E machines you’re currently building and your plans for the future.
When we purchased the line there had been no significant design changes made in decades. G&E was founded in 1833. It was a huge company employing thousands of people, and it made significant contributions to the U.S. military during both world wars, so there were plenty of machines out there. I was familiar with the line from buying and selling the machines, and I’d always been impressed with their quality. So when I found myself with the opportunity to purchase the company and all its related assets, including the original drawings, I could see the potential since these machines were one of the few that could cut gears large enough for wind energy, and other markets.
Our basic machines are the 60S, with a maximum gear diameter of 60”, the 96GH which produces a 100” diameter, the 120GH which goes up to 145”, and the 160GH, with a maximum diameter of 240”. We can also build larger custom machines, and we offer turnkey packages with configurations involving not only the gashers, but our VTLs and equipment for heat-treating bearings as well. The G&E machines are used to produce pinion drives and slew rings. There are four slew rings in each turbine, including three with internal teeth to control pitch for the blades and one with external teeth for yaw. We can even help companies set up for producing slew rings. The G&E machines can be purchased with one or two columns, with the dual-column option allowing manufacturers to avoid changeover times of up to two hours by keeping both the internal and external gasher heads mounted and ready to go to work at all times. The heads are interchangeable, as well, so they can be used on either column. All of these machines are CNC, of course, and we use Fanuc controls.
In addition to incorporating all the latest technologies, we’ve also made them stronger and more accurate. We really beefed up the base and column, which provides the extra rigidity required to cut more aggressively. That rigidity also contributes to the machine’s integrity, because it won’t shake itself to death like the VTLs you’re seeing some companies trying to market for gashing these gears. That might work for a while, but those machines will eventually lose their rigidity, which will severely affect the precision of the part and reduce the equipment’s service life.
While these are huge improvements on existing designs, I understand that you’re also working on something totally new.

 

That’s right. We’ve always seen ourselves as “the solutions company,” so we want to be able to provide additional production opportunities for wind-energy manufacturers. We are currently designing a five-axis machine for manufacturing hubs for 1.5, 2.5, and 3.5 megawatt wind turbines. The way they’re made now involves many different setups, and our new machine will eliminate that. We’re dedicated to making further contributions to the wind industry, but these big G&E machines apply to other markets as well, including mining, pulp and paper, off-highway, and construction. So companies involved in those industries need to call us, because we have something new to show them, or they can see for themselves at Gear Expo in Indianapolis next September, where we’ll have one of our new G&E machines at booth #401. I can promise that if you haven’t seen us lately, you haven’t seen R.P. Machine.

MORE INFORMATION  Please contact Rich Piselli with R.P. Machine Enterprises Inc. at (704) 872-8888 or send an email to sales@rpmachine.com and visit his website www.rpmachine.com.