Innovative Grinding Technologies – Fritz Studer Award 2020
Fritz Studer AG has awarded its research prize, the “Fritz Studer Award“ for the sixth time. Applicants from several European countries submitted their work, with the winner of the CHF 10,000 prize announced as Dr-Ing. Mirko Theuer.
The Fritz Studer Award is aimed at graduates of European universities and technical colleges. The targets are creative ideas and solutions in the area of the machine tool industry. “The goal behind the research award is, on the one hand, feasible solutions and ideas which strengthen the innovative power of the machine tool industry and, on the other, our desire to use this award to promote young scientists and technicians,” states Dr-Ing. Frank Fiebelkorn, Head of Research and Technology Fritz Studer AG.
The work sent in for this Award should specifically focus on the following topics:
Innovative machine concepts or components for machine tools for precision machining
Alternative materials in mechanical engineering
Simulation models for the dynamic and thermal behavior of machine tools
Control and sensor concepts for machine tools
New or advanced manufacturing techniques, especially in hard fine machining, such as grinding, hard turning, etc.
STUDER received several studies, master theses and dissertations, with an expert jury evaluating the work. The jury consists of Prof. Dr. Konrad Wegener, Institute for Machine Tools and Production at the ETH Zurich, Dr.-Ing. Hans-Werner Hoffmeister, head of Production Engineering at the Institute of Machine Tools and Production Technology of the TU Braunschweig and Dr.-Ing. Frank Fiebelkorn, head of Research and Technology at Fritz Studer AG. Criteria for the evaluation of the works were for example the feasibility to imple-ment the idea in the machine tool industry, the innovation and quality of the idea, the scientific content and form, as well as the correctness of the statements and results.
This time, the Studer Award 2020 went to Dr. Mirko Theuer from the Institute for Production Engineering and Machine Tools at Leibniz University Hannover. He convinced the entire jury with his study entitled “Continuous generating grinding of cutting tools.“ His work deals with the development of a new type of tool grinding method for the manufacture of cutting tools such as drills, mills or saw blades, for example.
Award winner Mirko Theuer has transferred theoretical and practical knowledge in the continuous generating grinding of gearwheels to the conditions of a 5-axis tool grinding machine, which is normally used for machining such cutting tools. To do this he developed a mathematical model, which serves to design the worm geometry (grinding wheel) for the required cutting tool geometries. The practical tests for continuous generating grinding showed that a wide variety of tool ge-ometries can be designed. The newly developed generating grinding process enables the flutes and peripheral cutting edges of a cutting tool to be produced simultaneously with a sin-gle grinding worm, so that it is no longer necessary to use several grinding tools in succession. The new method increases the productivity of the overall process, as well as the manufactur-ing quality. The improved manufacturing quality also shows benefits for the subsequent use of a milling tool. In comparison to conventional reference mills, a 15% higher service life was established. Dr Theuer presented many other advantages of the new method in detail in his dissertation. The very high degree of innovation of this topic is also underscored by a patent application for the developed method.
“It is a fantastic feeling to receive the Fritz Studer Award. I have always hoped that my dissertation could make an innovative contribution to production technology. This award is therefore a special honour for me,“ enthused Dr.-Ing. Mirko Theuer on receiving the Fritz Studer Award and the prize money in the amount of CHF 10,000.
Fritz Studer Online Press Conference 2021
The last STUDER Motion Meeting took place over a year ago. Although STUDER had experienced a decline in sales at that time, the company still recorded the third-best year since its founding. However, the economic situation had already deteriorated sharply. “Machine manufacturing is notoriously a very cyclical business and you need to be able to manage these fluctuations in order to survive,“ explains Jens Bleher, CEO of Fritz Studer AG. However, a new threat was appearing on the horizon for the world economy: the Covid pandemic. “Initially it was a matter of protecting the staff and safeguarding the company,“ continues Jens Bleher.
STUDER reacted quickly and consistently introduced extensive protective measures, with the STUDER Corona Task Force going into action from the outset. This meant that outbreaks in the factory could be prevented and STUDER was able to always provide a full service for its customers. The company is doing everything in its power to ensure that this remains the case.
STUDER has successfully withstood Covid and the downturn and overall the situation is considerably better than during the financial crisis ten years ago. The company has reacted to drops in sales with the proven annual work-hour model and, where necessary, with short-time working. Major developments have been continued and the product portfolio further developed. Numerous group projects from “UNITED GRINDING Digital SolutionsTM” play a key role in connection with digitalisation. Structural alterations and investments in new products, machinery and equipment have also been considered. “STUDER invested in 2020 and will continue to do so this year.” says Jens Bleher. “All in all, we consider ourselves to be well positioned, which is a decisive advantage, particularly in the current competitive environment.“
Apprenticeships at STUDER were also affected by the pandemic, but even in these times STUDER has stuck to its tried and tested vocational training. “The number of STUDER apprentices remains high and they make up over 11 percent of the workforce,“ explains Jens Bleher. STUDER was also able to al-ways ensure professional training. This is reflected by the success of the apprentices in their final year, all of whom were able to prepare thoroughly and all passed their final exams. In addition, an internal follow-on solution could be offered for all. STUDER is continuing to invest in apprenticeship training, such as a new NC lathe for the apprentice workshop. In addition, STUDER vocational training once again produced top-level performances last year. All four STUDER participants won medals at the SwissSkills in the disciplines of poly-mechanics and automation. With one gold, one silver and two bronze, they achieved the best results in years. “STUDER thus has the current Swiss champion in polymechanics and will be represented again at the next WorldSkillls,” concludes Jens Bleher.
STUDER made a promising start to 2020, until the point in March when one country after another around the world implemented drastic and strict lockdown measures. “Even in a year like this, it is important to hold on to the positive,” says Sandro Bottazzo, CSO of Fritz Studer AG. “Thanks to the very good order intake towards the end of last year, particularly from Asia and Latin Europe, but also in some cases from Central Europe, STUDER generated a substantially higher order volume than during the last major crisis in 2009. This was a positive development because the general market decline was similar to that experienced during the financial crisis more than eleven years ago,” he adds. The strong December also put the company in a positive mood. “Many of our customers are expecting a stronger second quarter or second half of 2021 in particular, which is precisely why many grinding machines were still ordered in December,” summarises Sandro Bottazzo.
“Another key factor of STUDER’s success is the broad portfolio of different universal external, internal, production and conventional cylindrical grinding machines.“ The new S33 launched in 2019 was by far the best-selling STUDER cylindrical grinding machine last year, followed by the internal grinding machines as well as the new S31 and the new favorit. Sales of the favoritCNC entry-level external grinding machine have also developed very positively.
Summing up the market in general, the order situation in Germany in particular, was low compared with previous years. This is partly due to the COVID 19 pandemic, but also to the ongoing structural changes in the automotive industry. Order intake in 2020 from Asia, North America and North-Eastern Europe remained at a very pleasing level. This was mainly due to high demand from the job shop and aerospace industry segments. Latin Europe was also quite positive, thanks to the strong end-of-year spurt from Italy. “In total, we sold our grinding machines in over 40 different countries worldwide in 2020,” explains Sandro Bottazzo.
Another key success factor over the past year was STUDER Customer Care. “Thanks to our local, customer-focused network of over 130 STUDER service technicians worldwide, we were able to provide our customers with continuous support during the pandemic, despite international restrictions,“ confirms Sandro Botazzo. This global network of service technicians is unique in this form in the universal cylindrical grinding machine market, a network which STUDER will continue to expand. “We are convinced that sustained success is only possible, if we are and remain close to our customers”, emphasizes Sandro Bottazzo.
STUDER has also further developed its portfolio of digital services. Customers can now purchase the complete UNITED GRINDING Digital SolutionsTM retrofit package with a maintenance contract at a special price. With a very wide portfolio of services, STUDER offers everything from one source throughout the entire life cycle of a cylindrical grinding machine.
Insights into STUDER production
The UNITED GRINDING Group has developed a digitalisation roadmap, which STUDER is now implementing step by step. “In addition, we also use all the technologies that we offer to our customers in our own production”, explains Stephan Stoll, COO of Fritz Studer AG.
UNITED GRINDING Digital SolutionsTM can be mentioned as an example. The Production Monitor provides an overview of the operating status of the company’s manufacturing and assembly production equipment at any time. It shows customers in real time whether and which machines are in operation and can display the corresponding production history. This is not only of particular interest and benefit for managers on the shop floor, but also for machine operators of unmanned machines. Not only can STUDER machines and other machines from the UNITED GRINDING Group be integrated into this app but, via the standardised umati interface, a wide variety of external production equipment and manufacturers can also be integrated. “At the workstation, the system also allows many detailed analyses and status reports, including information on order statuses, maintenance intervals, and any servicing that may be required,” says Stephan Stoll.
Digital tools are another step towards digitalisation: work instructions, test processes and checklists are largely paperless and are always available in the latest version. “Tablets and screens have already become indispensable aids for the STUDER assembly specialists and are used in a suitable form depending on the workstation,“ concludes Stephan Stoll.
Technology Development is at the heart of STUDER
At the STUDER Tech Center, innovations are created, and customer-specific requirements are put through their paces. Digitalisation is also a key issue in technology development. “Today and in the future, we need a transparent yet secure connection, so that process information can be easily transferred to external systems”, explains Daniel Huber, CTO of Fritz Studer AG. These are precisely the advantages offered by the STUDER OPC-UA solution. In the Tech Center all machines are also connected by means of OPC-UA to our UNITED GRINDING Digital SolutionsTM applications according to the umati universal machine tool interface standard and equipped with additional sensors. A technology innovation is the laser measuring technology with STUDER LaserControlTM. STUDER has many years of experience in basic research on the use of machine-integrated laser measuring technology for measuring grinding wheels or workpieces. Based on these findings and the latest laser measuring technology, STUDER has further developed the tool monitoring systems used in other industries, to measure workpieces on grinding machines. The latest generation of the STUDER laser measuring system LaserControlTM is suitable, not only for the contact-free measurement of tool cutting edges in the toughest conditions but also for rotating workpieces, which considerably reduces measuring time. It is unbeatably fast, precise and reliable, thanks to premium laser optics and the latest evaluation technology. Highly dynamic and contact-free measurements also allow quality assessment of high-precision PCD tools.
Although STUDER gives an insight into the company’s technology, one future-oriented area remains under wraps. STUDER and the whole UNITED GRINDING Group are looking forward to surprising you with several innovations at EMO in Milan. Visit the exhibition stand at EMO Milan from 4 – 9 October 2021.