As the world's economies get tied ever closer together, even small, local machining job shops find themselves up against far-flung competitors. To survive and succeed in this environment, many ask their machine builders for more-capable and flexible devices, and Romi Machine Tools (www.romiusa.com) in Erlanger, Ky., has been answering these calls.
It might have been a little easier for Romi to go global because it's part of Industries Romi in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Founded by Americo Emilio Romi in 1930 as an automobile repair shop in Santa Barbara d'Oeste, Brazil, Romi grew and evolved to become a global presence in machine tools, plastic injection molding machines, high-precision adjustable boring systems, and rough and machined castings. Its products and services are marketed domestically in Brazil and exported to five continents to help manufacture automobile and automotive components, consumer goods, agricultural machinery and implements, and other industrial equipment.
"A lot of simple jobs are going to Asia because of lower costs, and so users have been telling us they want to make molds," said Jody Michaels, Romi's former national sales manager, while he demonstrated its new-generation D800 vertical milling machine at IMTS 2010 in Chicago. "However, this involves more complex machining and controls, and so they've been asking for more capable and flexible equipment. Romi has a large foundry in Sao Paulo, so we're able to beef up the casting, and give the D800 the heavier and more stable base and heavier linear ways it needs for working with the hardened materials used in mold-making."
After establishing this stable foundation, Romi needed to give its many job-shop users the ability to easily machine and customize almost any type of part that their customers might need. As a result, Romi decided to implement Siemens Industry's Sinumerik 828D five-axis CNC controller, which uses ShopMill and ShopTurn conversational, intuitive programming software and graphical user interface to make it easier to set up orders and customize them as needed. In addition, when D800 is running, its controller looks ahead about 140 programming code lines to better anticipate stepovers and other directional changes, and this reduces gouging and reversals. For example, Michaels said, it slows down more smoothly when going into corners, and this allows better-quality machining.
"Traditionally, small job shops and contract manufacturers were only able to do one or two parts because they couldn't afford a more capable machine and they didn't have the time to do complex programming for more diverse parts," Michaels explained. "However, simpler and easier programming, such as we have with the D800, lets them put CAD designs on USB memory sticks and program right on the machine. This allows them to branch out to do many more types of parts and specifications. Also, if they just want to mill the top of a part, do some contouring, or drill a top bolt hole, these changes are also easy to do on the machine."