Total Solution From Siemens and HMK Perfects Honing Process for Delapena

A total solution from Siemens Industry Automation and Drive Technologies (IA&DT) has been instrumental in the turnaround in fortunes of Delapena Honing Equipment. The Cheltenham-based company, established in 1927, faced challenging years from the 1990s until 2006 when managing director David Arthur took control and Delapena’s order book was restored to health. 

Driving its growth has been a willingness to invest both in the development of new machines and in advanced technology to improve its processes and production systems. 

Delapena manufactures honing machines for the defence, aerospace, medical, hydraulic and automotive sectors,processing all kinds of materials including glass. Previously hand-crafted,the solution implemented incorporating Siemens WinAC (SIMATIC soft PLC on a 

SIMATIC IPC) and SINAMICS (S110 servodrives networked via Profibus to the PLC) now allows the process to be perfected and repeatable. Furthermore, in specifying Siemens technology, the company can be confident that its customers can obtain a high level of service and support wherever they are in the world. 

It is not only in its machines that Delapena is benefiting from Siemens technology. In the restructure and expansion of its production facilities, the company benefits from world class control and integration through Siemens Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) solution. Furthermore, it has invested in machining centres and lathes supplied by XYZ Machine Tools featuring Siemens’ latest SINUMERIK 828D CNC with ShopMill conversational programming.  

TIA allows the requirements of efficient configuration, faster integration and commissioning, greater flexibility in production and higher availability and energy savings to be implemented efficiently. This is particularly important for Delapena which serves international markets and needs to deliver a global service to customers. TIA enables the company to fully utilise all optimisation opportunities over the entire life cycle of a machine or plant from planning and engineering through to operation and maintenance and expansion and modernisation.  

Siemens invited its technology distribution partner HMK to provide logistical and electrical engineering support for this total solution. 

“The complexity of the new machines that Delapena was developing meant they needed guidance and we were the bestfit both in terms of geographic location and our expertise in supporting OEMsand system integrators,” explains HMK sales manager, Patrick Tongs.  

Traditionally held to be one of the ‘black arts’, many of those skills involved in honing are diminishing due to an ageing workforce. This has been a key driver behind Delapena’s decision to invest in the development of a series of machines that are less reliant on the skills involved in honing without compromising on quality and productivity.  

“We had been using various contractors to supply the drives and controls for our machines but identified a need to streamline and simplify the operation,” explains David Arthur. “We knew exactly what we wanted to achieve but needed a partner with the relevant expertise. Siemens and HMK worked with us to develop the controls to our specification, going the extra mile and sticking with us to smooth out any snags which cropped up.” 

HMK’s approach was to build a firm foundation with Delapena with a progressive exchange of information to fully understand what the company wantedt o accomplish long-term before delivering a solution and found everyone involved extremely receptive to the proposals made. 

“Delapena was not looking for a quick-fix but demonstrated a willingness to ‘own’ the product,” continues Tongs. “With quite definite goals as to how they wanted their solution to migrate, the engineers worked in parallel with us, increasing in knowledge and confidence as the project progressed. We have an excellent relationship as we continue delivering support to further assist the company in realising its aims.” 

The new Siemens controlled machines are designed to provide an alternative to traditional flow-line production cells, their rigid construction providing the same repeatable quality and tolerances at a much reduced level of investment on the part of the customer. The advances in control and machine technology provided by Delapena is a major step-change in cost-effective horizontal honing.   

The controllability of its new E-Series machines means that it can mimic the ‘human touch’ and automatically recreate the hands-on stroking,feathering the hone expansion, increasing speed to polish, stroking slowly to improve surface finish that would normally only be achievable with experienced machine operators - at the push of a button. Not only that, it will accurately repeat the process day in, day out. 

“The industry looks for simplicity with sequential controls while retaining high precision and repeatability,” continues David Arthur. “Siemens has provided us with an excellent product which enables us to deliver what the customer requires for small bore horizontal honing processes.” 

Targeting small to large sized batches, the E-Series honingmachines can produce bores ranging in diameter from 1.14 mm to 120 mm with theXL version achieving bore lengths up to 1000 mm. Through innovative use of Siemens touch-screen control and bespoke application software, the E-Series delivers accuracy, consistency and simplicity to what was once a complex process. 

One example of this is the manufacture of barrels for shot-gunswhere precision is critical and the volumes are such that honing created a bottle neck in the process. These complicated barrels combine a parallel bore with a tapered one (the choke). Using Siemens technology, the E-Series XLmachines allow repeated automatic production in a much reduced cycle time with accuracy maintained at less than 0.01 over an 800 mm length. 

The first two machines in the series: the E1000S and E2000S were adapted to work with the Siemens controller and bespoke software and successfully proved the process of honing with minimal operator input. The operator simply has to set up the fixturing and tooling, select the correct program from the control - and the machine will do the rest. The controller even features a stone wear compensation feature to ensure repeated size control across the batch of components. Further features within the control’s software ensure precision cutting leading to extended tool life.  

The recently developed E2000S-XL further extends the capability of the E-Series providing a platform to hone bores between 6 mm and 80 mm diameter up to 1 metre in length with the ability to extend these size ranges depending on specific applications. This extended small bore precision honing machine is the first purpose-built, precision, NC controlled, long-bore, horizontal honing machine available, using Siemens technology to provide precise control of the honing process including programmable stock removal rates from 0.0001mm per second.  

By working closely with Siemens and HMK, Delapena has optimised the design and operation of the E-Series machines to replicate the traditional manual inputs found on conventional honing equipment.  

“Having developed a close working relationship with Siemens for more than two years now I can say we are partners in every sense of the word,”concludes David Arthur. “On track to double our turnover in the next three years, as we move forward in developing customer solutions and meeting new challenges, we are confident they will be there for us.”