Maschinenfabrik Berthold Hermle AGMaschinenfabrik Berthold Hermle AG

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Sustainable close partnership leads to success


How the machining technology company Höcherl & Reisinger became a sought-after technology service provider for precision parts with the help of Hermle machining centres.

In 20-some years from a traditional 2-man small business to today's technology company with 80 employees – The success story you don't hear every day about the medium-size company Höcherl & Reisinger Zerspanungstechnik GmbH, D-93194 Walderbach Germany, shows more than anything else the great potential for development that can be unleashed by focussing on "machining technology" as a core competence.

Founded in 1991 by Josef Reisinger (died 2007) and Herbert Höcherl, this model company also documents the major change the entire Bavarian Forest region has undergone from its previous status as a zone immediately adjacent to the border with the former German Democratic Republic, when it languished in a largely agricultural existence. But very soon after the opening up towards Eastern Europe and the ensuing reunification of Germany, Josef Reisinger and Herbert Höcherl saw opportunities emerging with services related to one-off parts manufacturing and fixture building. They started their company in the Founders /Innovation Centre of the municipality of Walderbach (eastern part of Kirchrohrbach in the Cham administrative district) near the Czech border. To meet the high standards of their customers sustainably, the two machining specialists concentrated on all relevant technologies including rotational machining, milling grinding and electrical discharge machining.

To make their customer's wishes reality they used a CNC machine park powerful enough for their needs from the very beginning. One partner that has been there since day one and has always been held in high esteem by Managing Director Herbert Höcherl and his highly qualified employees is Maschinenfabrik Berthold Hermle AG of Gosheim, Germany D-78559.

Herbert Höcherl commented on the "genuine" partnership with Hermle that has stretched over many years: "The area around Cham used to be economically depressed. Now it's very well developed industrially. We've benefitted from that since the very beginning and it's been clear to us that we will only be successful by offering a comprehensive range of services, consistent top quality and highly reliable on-time delivery. That's why we didn't make any compromises in terms of performance, precision and technical availability, especially for milling, and that's why one of the first machines we bought was a UWF 1001/HTC universal milling machine from Hermle."

From universal milling machines with tool changer…

It was followed in the same year (1991) by another UWF 721 H universal milling machine. For a few years, the two universal milling machines together with a few turning and conventional machines formed the basis of a prosperous business before we invested in the first 5-axis C 800 U machining centre from Hermle in 1997, which opened up whole new possibilities.

Getting into 5-axis technology early on enabled Höcherl & Reisinger to greatly expand their range of services for customers while offering cost-effectiveness and competitive advantages to new customers thanks to the extended machining possibilities. Customers rewarded them for this immediately and so another Hermle machining centre was added the following year. Today the production hall in Walderbach has grown to 6500 m2 with 21 Hermle machining centres now at work, including no fewer than 18 units with the full range of technology options for challenging 5-axis/5-sided simultaneous/complete machining.

And with a touch of well-deserved pride Herbert Höcherl adds: "We're still using the first Hermle machines we bought today, which is an indication of the high quality and long-term accuracy. We are currently using several 5-axis centres from the Hermle series C 600 U and C 800 U, especially the C 40 U and C 42 U, and finally one C 50 U MT. This also clearly illustrates how by always adding the latest generation of machines we have consistently been able to raise the level of our range of services for demanding complete machining, which naturally contributes greatly to customer loyalty. Today we become involved in designing parts at an early stage and contribute our expertise to ensure parts are machined as fast, efficiently, and economically as possible."

…to 5-axis CNC high performance machining centres…

The latest procurements are two C 42 U 5-axis high performance machining centres with RS3 robot system, installed near the end of 2011, and a multifunctional C 50 U MT 5-axis high performance machining centre with integrated turning function purchased in 2012.

Höcherl & Reisinger purchased an additional C 40 U 5-axis machining centre in 2012, showing clearly that they have become sought-after specialists in 5-axis machining, fully trusted by customers in all matters relating to precision parts manufacturing. Fully responding to that trust means creating advantages for customers in manufacturing as well as time and cost whenever possible. Accordingly the two C-42 U 5-axis high performance machining centres with RS3 robot system and workpiece storage were expanded to include a highly automated Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS) for highly flexible machining of complex single and small series parts. The two C 42 U machines are equipped identically with a main spindle running at 18000 rpm, tool holding fixture HSK-A63, additional tool magazine with 160 pockets, NC swivelling rotary table 420 mm in diameter, 80 bar ICS system, automatic cabin door and automatic top, and finally Heidenhain touch probe and Blum tool breakage monitoring. The RS3 robot system with workpiece storage is the connecting element between the two machining centres. The robot is designed for load and transport weights up to 500 kg.

It is currently used to handle four workpiece pallets measuring 400 x 400 mm, which in turn contain different workpieces with a wide range of clamping devices. With set-up in parallel to production together and fast tool changes, unproductive idle time is reduced practically to zero, thereby ensuring highly cost-effective multi-shift operation of the FMS seven days a week. 

... and on to 5-axis CNC high-end machining centres with robot automation or integrated turning technology

A different kind of cost-effectiveness is the reason for Höcherl & Reisinger's new C 50 U MT 5-axis high-performance machining centre with integrated turning functionality for combined milling/turning machining of larger and very large workpieces.

This machine is equipped with numerous features including a main spindle for speeds up to 12000 rpm, an HSK-T100 tool holding fixture, an NC swivelling rotary table 1000 mm in diameter, an 80-bar ICS system, an additional tool magazine with 124 pockets and of course touch probe and tool breakage monitoring. With traverses X = 1000, Y = 1100 and Z = 750 mm, the Walderbach machining technology service providers once again struck out into new workpiece dimensions, and with integrated milling/rotational machining the range of machining possibilities was once more expanded.

In conclusion, Herbert Höcherl made some comments on the company's active partnership with Hermle and its close connection to the company's success: "The C 800 U was revolutionary at the time and one innovation after another followed after it until today. With the expanded performance of Hermle machines, we were able to broaden our machining competence as well to include larger and larger pieces, which was exactly the right response to growing customer demands. We have also been extremely impressed with the reliability of the machines and especially Hermle Service. So far we have only needed a technician visit on very few occasions. Since we are now also able to manufacture economically in medium-size series with rising capabilities and expanding level of machine automation, we see our main focus today in the area of parts manufacturing for prototypes, individual parts and small series production up to about 20,000 units per year in batch call-offs. We produce mainly workpieces made of stainless steel and aluminium in three-shift operation, with an annual material consumption of about 150 tons of stainless steel and 90 tons of aluminium. Although machining stainless steel parts in particular often places an excessive load on the machines and tools, Hermle machines have been relatively unaffected by this over the years".

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