Hurco Open House Seals A Successful 2019
Despite many machine tool companies selling into the UK reporting a softening in the market in 2019, machining centre and lathe manufacturer Hurco Europe reported its second-best turnover ever, only slightly below that of the record year of 2018.
At an open house held on 2nd and 3rd December at the firm’s new, 26,000 sq ft headquarters, showroom and technical centre in High Wycombe, attended by more than 88 visitors representing 53 companies from the UK, Ireland and Sweden, a successful trading year was sealed by three further orders for machining centres including a double-column model.
David Waghorn, managing director of Hurco Europe commented, “We were pleased to be able to preview a cobot (collaborative robot) following our group’s purchase earlier this year of Pittsburgh manufacturer, ProCobot.
“It was demonstrated feeding one of our VMX30UHSi five-axis machining centres with aluminium billets from a table automatically and returning finish-machined components.”
He said that Hurco is developing plug-and-play solutions built around the ProCobot systems that they hope will offer seamless integration with an application that is being tested in the Hurco machine’s proprietary WinMAX control. There are four standard products of different sizes in the ProCobot range and they are all equally well suited to feeding lathes or machining centres. As was reflected at the EMO 2019 show in Hannover in September, there are currently strong trends towards automated feeding of machine tools as well as to higher levels of factory connectivity. This latest company acquisition by Hurco feeds into both. Hurco plans to have sellable ProCobot options available in time for MACH 2020.
Hurco Europe has already seen a rise in automation, having sold around half a dozen machining centres equipped with a Swiss-built Erowa pallet storage and retrieval system. Mr Waghorn also noted that one customer, a subcontractor in Rutland, has recently automated a Hurco five-axis machining centre with a Belgian RoboJob Milling Assistant as well as a three-axis model with a US-made Midaco automatic pallet changer. These examples reinforce the notion of a gathering pace towards autonomous machine tending.
Another direction in which Hurco Europe’s business is going is the supply of a greater number of five-axis machining centres, both B-axis and trunnion-type, which now account for 30 per cent of company turnover. Accordingly, Hurco is now seen as a major five-axis machining centre supplier. Users are replacing three- and four-axis machines with these higher-end products, which not only have the extra CNC axes but also a higher specification. It includes elevated feed rates and spindle speed, while during 2009 the VMX 42 & 60 SRTi models were upgraded with linear scales rather than rotary encoders in X, Y and Z plus torque motors rather than standard motors in the rotary B and C axes.
Mr Waghorn suggests that the rise in the adoption of five-axis technology is partly down to modern CADCAM systems being able to drive such machines competently for fully interpolative machining, together with a general recognition that one- or two-hit production using the extra rotary axes for positioning is essential for manufacturers to remain competitive.
Looking forwards to MACH 2020, he expects a number of new announcements. The show will mark the official launch of the ProCobot and also of the first of a new generation of driven-tool lathes, the TM8Mi. Hurco will be showing the popular dual column DCX22i at MACH 2020. This will coincide with the anticipated release of a new, upgraded version of the large capacity, 5-axis model DCX32-5Si.
Mr Waghorn concluded, “Although there is some uncertainty in the market at present, the feedback I get from our sales engineers is that they are optimistic about next year, so we are expecting a sustained pick-up from MACH onwards.
“Our new High Wycombe premises, which we moved into in August 2019, gives us a great base from which to continue to grow. We are really proud of the new machine demonstration area and encourage anyone considering a machine purchase to pay us a visit.
“In addition, we will continue our joint venture association with Kirklees College in Huddersfield, which provides students and apprentices there with modern Hurco equipment for training and cutting demonstrations, while at the same time providing us with a showroom facility in the North.”