Heller has delivered a pair of twin-pallet, horizontal machining centers (HMCs) for installation at Mahle Powertrain’s factory at Booth Drive in Wellingborough, UK. A four-axis Heller H2000 has joined two identical models in an eight-machine production line dedicated to manufacturing cylinder blocks, while a larger, five-axis FP6000 has been added to a flexible machining cell to expand its capabilities.
“We were already familiar with Heller machines, as we operated 21 of them very successfully for more than a decade at our facility in nearby Ryle Drive,” commented Mahle’s project manager Geoff Brown. “They were used for manufacturing cylinder heads and blocks for a British off-road plant manufacturer, although that contract has now ended and the machines have been sold.
“I also had experience working with Heller horizontal machining centers at another engine manufacturer that operated more than 20 of them in a transfer line. We sent some V8 cylinder blocks to Heller’s Redditch technical centre, where they carried out Op 10 and Op 20 trials on an H2000, which is ideally sized for the work.
For Mahle, the new machining capability promises greater productivity due to the H2000’s improved rigidity, higher speed (16,000rpm) spindles with HSK63A interface and programmable through-coolant up to 70bar. All of which meaning faster cutting feed rates.
Rapid traverse is quicker than before and further time savings are derived from integral hydraulics for automatically clamping the engine blocks and air detect for checking that the component is seated correctly.
A probe in the tool magazine for identifying broken cutters shaves off further time by removing that function from the cycles.