The topic of sustainability and climate protection is becoming more and more central to the industry. There are several reasons for this: Firstly, there is a general increase in awareness of sustainability; users and customers alike are placing more value on the topic. On the other hand, the requirements in terms of climate protection are also increasing — and are likely to increase much more in the future.
In the following, machine tool manufacturers report on how they contribute to more sustainability.
1. Save resources with durable products
Products often end up directly on the rubbish heap after individual components have worn out. The manufacturer relies on a long service life of its products, which goes beyond the natural wear of individual components.
For regular maintenance and inspections, Manufacturer offers to re-vulcanize clamping elements that come into contact with the workpiece, to level out any unevenness that may have arisen and to re-coat areas of wear. The costs for this are far less than the purchase of new products.
Users themselves could also do more to make their clamping devices more durable. Ideally, they should stop the machines briefly once a day to remove chips and dirt. Due to lack of time, however, this often falls by the wayside.
2. Efficiency can be sustainable
Sustainability must be worthwhile because for many users the profitability of the company has the highest priority.
An example of this is a modular system with which machine tools can be easily adapted to different production orders: For different workpiece geometries, for example, it is no longer necessary to replace the entire clamping device, but only to insert the corresponding adaptation into the clamping device.
This should be particularly profitable for contract manufacturers. Here, manufacturing companies often change their clamping devices several times a day in order to machine different components. When changing entire clamping devices, such a change process takes 20 to 30 minutes, with the modular system it takes one to two minutes. According to the product manager, the fast changeover helps to save entire machines — which in turn contributes to sustainability.
3. One machine for everything
Many users want to produce in a more environmentally friendly way, but this is often not possible. For example, components with nine fixtures often have to be produced in four different machines: turning, cubic machining, gear cutting, and grinding.
If these steps are carried out in three set-ups and only one machine, the entire process becomes more efficient. And we also prevent the so-called parts of tourism.
Delivery times and risks would also be reduced if a component was machined with only one clamping. “The environmental footprint is improved by saving resources, energy, time, and space.” The challenge for the machine tool manufacturer is to deal with machining methods that were previously unfamiliar to him — in this example grinding and gear cutting.
4. Save raw materials through better preparation
The saving of raw materials in the machining of workpieces is more likely to be considered state of the art. The trend towards “near net shape” has been in place in the machining process for several years now: Even before machining, the workpieces are adapted to the shape of the finished component in order to reduce the allowance for machining as much as possible.
The closer the blank is to the finished component, the faster the job is done, and, as an additional benefit, there is less chip waste in production. As a consequence, the roughing operation during milling, for example, is reduced, while the finishing operation gains in importance.
5. Recycling of waste
Waste recycling has also long been a well-established practice in the metalworking industry. Metal chips and other production waste are collected by the manufacturing companies themselves or by specialized recycling companies and returned to the raw metal extraction process.
6. Less lubrication
Another sustainability trend in the metalworking industry: Instead of large quantities of coolants and other lubricants, people are increasingly turning to minimum quantity lubrication: If only a drop of oil is needed for machining, this is of course extremely resource-friendly. This technology is already being used in series production in the automotive industry in particular.
7. Consider the CO2 balance of the supply chain
In the long term, it is essential for companies to review the entire production and supply chain for sustainability. In the future, companies should approach suppliers, for example, to be aware of the carbon footprint of the crude steel they purchase.
8. More precise software
Not only the machines themselves but also the software has a lot to offer in terms of sustainability. We have integrated a lot of knowledge into the software to make the preparation of the machining process sustainable in terms of programming. A key aspect is that we have achieved a high degree of reproducibility. The aim must be to get to the finished product on the machine quickly and easily. If more machined parts are good parts because the repeatability of the processes is improved, this has a direct impact on the conservation of resources.
9. Artificial intelligence prevents idling
Improved operating capacity utilization leads to less idling and positive environmental effects. In the future, the software will be able to react more quickly to changing situations. For example, a machining job that was originally designed for a Siemens control system can quickly be produced or a machining job that was planned on a milling machine can be completed in a few steps on a lathe/milling machine.
10. Paying attention to the sustainability of raw materials
In addition to functionality and compatibility with machine components, Pays particular attention to using sustainable raw materials and concentrates its development on environmentally friendly and resource-saving products. According to the regulations, the products contain neither heavy metals nor aromatic hydrocarbons and are furthermore odorless and skin-friendly.