1/18/2018 | 3 MINUTE READ

Turning Technology into Production

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More and more, Swiss-type machine tool manufacturers are offering products that are flexible and affordable to job shops as well as large OEMs.


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Since my first job 40 years ago redrawing electrical schematics and stuffing PC boards for a company that retrofit NC controls onto non-NC jig bores and jig mills, I fell in love with manufacturing. Today, when people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them, “We make stuff.” Every product you use in life has in some way or form started with machine tools. People don’t think about the manufacturing process that goes into simple things. It all starts with machine tools. I’ve had the privilege to be involved in bringing products to the market and improving production processes from start to finish. Being involved in manufacturing at 19 years old and experiencing manufacturing behind the scenes is what originally attracted me to this industry and why I still enjoy it today. 

I was fortunate to have been involved in the Swiss turn market at a young age and to have the opportunity to work with all departments involved—from service and applications to sales. Now, as president at Tornos Technologies US, I can say that one of the greatest benefits of working in the Swiss market is that we are heavily involved in the medical industry when there are new breakthroughs and developments. Companies like ours are at the forefront of medical manufacturing advancements.

During my time, I have seen many developments in the medical industry. In the 1980s, cataract surgery became affordable because of reduced cycle times on titanium tips used in the procedure. Swiss turning made that possible. And in today’s age, the Swiss-type machine is not only made for long, small-diameter parts, but it’s a versatile machine that can do much more metalworking when compared with what it was originally designed to produce. 

More and more, Swiss-type machine tool manufacturers are offering products that are flexible and affordable to job shops as well as large OEMs. Tornos’ Swiss GT and DT product lines offer both flexibility and affordability. While Tornos in the past was always associated with having only premier, luxury machines, now, with the recent introduction of the Swiss GT 26 B-axis machine, Tornos continues to diversify its line-up to provide solutions for all shop needs. This new versatile Swiss-type machine is B-axis equipped with a modular position that can incorporate either a fourth rotating drilling station or a true thread-whirling head. Companies such as Tornos must continue to move the fundamental technology of traditional sliding headstock Swiss-type machine into new and diverse machine tool product. An example of this is found in our CNC multi-spindle product line, called “MultiSwiss,” ideal for small to high-volume lot sizes.

While Swiss-type equipment becomes more diversified, affordable and versatile, along with those mechanical upgrades comes software advances that mesh Industry 4.0. Newer uses for Swiss-type machines will be seen in areas where software continues to develop to make the mechanics of the machine perform more optimally. Industry 4.0, coined at the Hannover Fair in 2011, now seems to be making a major impact on the U.S. market, often under the name IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things).

As the market continues to demand software upgrades on machines, my company is responding by offering solutions such as its TISIS software. TISIS, launched in 2013, is a scalable software not only created for the programming and monitoring of our machines and to facilitate setups, but it also enables experienced bar turners to store operations in the software so less experienced technicians can easily use their experience. Not only can you measure efficiency of production, but also view performance and receive live notifications in the event of any issues. At EMO 2017, Tornos unveiled TISIS live, showing the new module that allows our service engineers to view and analyze all connected machines throughout the world. 

As Tornos continues to innovate in its technologies and software systems, its main objective continues to be providing solutions for its customer’s needs. I uphold a targeted goal for Tornos US for both short-term gain and long-term growth. My overall objective is to have 15-20 percent of the Swiss market in North America. While that may seem like an aggressive goal, it is achievable because there are some aspects of the market that we have not penetrated, which have been starving for Tornos’ technology. The more we continue to innovate in our technologies, the more our users will be productive. After all, we are turning technology into production.