Retrofit updates grinders productivity

June 11, 2008
Sandusky International’s old Normac grinder runs better than ever since being retrofitted with new CNC, motors, drives and electrical hardware. A CNC Normac grinder at Sandusky International ( in Ohio was no longer ...
Sandusky International’s old Normac grinder runs better than ever since being retrofitted with new CNC, motors, drives and electrical hardware.

A CNC Normac grinder at Sandusky International ( in Ohio was no longer holding tolerance positions, and replacement parts and service were getting increasingly difficult to obtain.

The machine was used to resharpen gun drills that put thousands of holes onto paper mill rollers.

Sandusky International turned to Trend Machinery Inc. of Willowbrook, Ill., a company that designs and builds custom machines, with a particular expertise in grinders. Trend, which is a retrofit partner of Siemens Energy & Automation’s ( Preferred Solution Partner program, also performs CNC retrofits to update obsolete controls, as well as motion-control systems integration and turnkey machine conversions from manual to programmable operation.

Trend returned Sandusky’s machine with full electrical schematics, bill of material and program files, plus the grinder was cleaned and completely repainted to customer specification. The company also supplied a one-year warranty on all parts, backed by the primary component supplier, Siemens.

“The work was done on time, in a professional manner and at the price quoted. This was an excellent investment for our company, as the machine has been performing beyond our expectations,” Ron Gearhart, a machining technician at Sandusky International, said.

Gearhart noted that the machine’s exceptional performance was due in part to the enhanced features on its new CNC. In addition, he mentioned the thorough documentation supplied, the neat appearance of the controls and organization of the electrical panels as further evidence of a job well done.

Bob Gordon, president of Trend, explained that the machine was sent to his company for evaluation because it was not difficult to transport. Once there, Trend determined what the grinder needed, which was a Siemens 810D CNC to replace the original control, as well as 611U drives and 1FT6 motors, also from Siemens. Trend customized an entirely new control console and enclosure for Sandusky and replaced all the electronic hardware such as starters and relays. Additionally, all limit switches were replaced, motor mounts were modified and the grinding spindle was repaired.

Partners in service and support

To further bolster its service and support to the machine tool end user community, Siemens Energy & Automation is ramping up its Preferred Solution Partner program, through which the company’s CNC, motor and drive packages will be brought to the machine shop market by a nationwide network of qualified retrofitters, such as Trend Machinery. While these partnering organizations and integrators will be responsible for installation, Siemens will also provide service, application engineering assistance and aftermarket support, with all the warranty and back-up shops expect form any machine tool market supplier.

Siemens Retrofit Business Development Manager Tom Curfiss detailed the protocol that will be followed.

“When we determine the scope of the work needed, the proper partner will be selected. Generally, for smaller jobs, a local partner is best. On major, more complex or dedicated machine tool projects, where a certain level of expertise and perhaps greater manpower are required to properly effect the retrofit, we might look to a more regional or even one of our national partners in the program.”

He also acknowledged that Siemens plans to be intentionally limiting in its Preferred Solution Partner program to ensure viability of the relationship, fulfillment of sales targets and a mutually satisfying business venture for all parties involved.

The current targets for securing these arrangements, according to Curfiss, comprise approximately six to 10 national organizations and about 12 to 20 regional and local partners. The Machine Tool Business unit that reports directly to Siemens Energy & Automation manages the program.

Reaffirming an industry yardstick, Curfiss said a retrofit job becomes workable when its cost does not exceed 60 percent of the price on a new machine. This is not always the case, however, as smaller shops seek to penetrate new higher-precision markets. Often in such cases, the retrofit might exceed the 60-percent level, but the gross savings still make it a worthwhile expense, especially with larger machining centers.

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