Vollmer recently hosted its four day VDays event at its world headquarters in Biberach, Germany. The Swabian sharpening expert was visited by over 400 customers from around the globe to witness the very latest technology from the world leading manufacturer of grinding and erosion machines for the processing of rotary cutting tools and circular saw blades.
What’s new at Vollmer
Dr Stefan Brand, the CEO of the Vollmer Group opened proceedings with an overview presentation of the Group, with pertinent points being the phenomenal growth journey the company is on. Vollmer recorded unprecedented sales and turnover growth in 2018 and with a bulging order book for 2019, this performance is expected to continue.
Dr Brand also emphasised the importance of the global market with its 490 Biberach staff and total worldwide headcount of 730 employees, ensuring that 85 percent of sales are outside the domestic market. With sales currently running at 20 percent in Asia, 16 percent in the Americas and 61 percent in Europe, Vollmer has a dominant position in Europe, but the opportunities in the rapidly growing Asian and American markets are a tantalising prospect.
To service the global demand and the respective growth potential, Dr Brand announced the company’s plans to vacate the current premises and move into a purpose built 48,000sq/m factory on the outskirts of Biberach by 2023. The new facility will give Vollmer an additional 12,000 sq m of factory space whilst streamlining the existing business model, which has been located on the existing site for almost 100 years. To prepare for the long-term future of the Vollmer Group, the new facility has an additional 50,000 sq m of space to expand beyond current plans, solidifying growth for future generations.
The seminar schedule for the event was split across two seminar theatres with delegates having the option of choosing their respective seminar subject. For Vollmer, the business development manager for the VGrind 360 and Vgrind 360E, Andreas Weidenauer discussed the extensive benefits of the VGrind machines. This included an overview of the build quality that touched on the polymer concrete machine base for vibration absorption and reduced thermal expansion as well as the impressive C-axis concept that provides the perfect absorption and elimination of deformation and vibration of grinding pressure through the top and bottom bearings in the twin grinding spindle configuration.
Reviewing the slideshow of the Vgrind 360 and 360E, it is apparent the unique twin spindle configuration exhibits dynamics, precision, deformation and vibration dampening characteristics that epitomise the quality that belies the Vollmer brand. The presentation also alluded to the spindle options available with both machines, as well as the option for linear glass scales on the X, Y and Z axis, which are fitted as standard to the C and A axes.
This detailed insight was duly followed by product manager Eric Scheffold who addressed the attendees regarding the very latest VGrind News. The latest VGrind news presentation focused upon the numerous modular automation solutions that include the HP160, HC4 and HPR250. These automation configurations are just one element of how Vollmer is committed to providing its customers with a ‘complete solution’.
The HP160 pallet magazine and HC4 chain magazine are compact and ergonomic solutions that provide external loading and unloading with a single or double gripper configuration for clamping tool shanks up to 25.4 mm diameter. The gripper system also incorporates fully automatic in-process compensation to improve precision, run-out and reduce sleeve wear. The HP160 system is available with a two or four pallet station that can accommodate up to 272 or 900 cutting tools respectively, so precision and automated reliability are crucial components of the Vgrind.
The packed schedule of events also included parallel presentations from technology partners such as Element 6, Gerling, ITQ, NUM, Haimer and Zoller with an additional keynote presentation on ‘how to improve carbide grinding’ by grinding “guru” Dr Jeffrey Badger. With such an esteemed list of presenters, visitors were not only offered the opportunity to embrace the ‘complete solution’ ethos and technology in the Vollmer Technical Centre, but also in the theme of the presentations that catered for every aspect of precision grinding.
As part of the DeBeers Group and a world leading designer, developer and manufacturer of synthetic diamond super-materials, Element 6 has worked with Vollmer for many years to trial the machineability and operability of new material developments. The company gave a ‘through the keyhole’ insight into the development and considerations of PCD materials, a presentation subsequently followed by Holger Gerling, managing director of Gerling, an industry leader in brazing technology for PCD cutting tools.
The afternoon presentations were delivered by Haimer and Zoller. The Haimer seminar on balancing and presetting of grinding wheels while the Zoller presentation on optimising grinding processes through digitisation certainly complemented the Vollmer theme of optimised production and digitisation.
IoT and the future of manufacturing
Dr Stefan Brand, Vollmer CEO detailed the IoT journey that Vollmer is planning and how the business will achieve its goals. Factoring in every consideration and department within the business is a process that ‘must’ involve all departments and all stakeholders, not only today, but every day. Dr Brand emphasised: “The IoT journey is one that will never end and it will continue for generations to come. It is about continually evolving and pushing the business forward whilst always learning.” Dr Brand stated that the company is currently undertaking almost 130 IoT projects and this number will only grow with time.