Machine tool builder supplies equipment with standard CNC and PLC motion control on machines and bar feeders; reduces downtime to near-zero
ZPS America (Indianapolis, IN) is a builder of multi-spindle machine tools, as the North American arm of the Tajmac Group in the Czech Republic. Headed by co-owner and president Olaf Tessarzyk, the company has supplied customers with high-production machine tools since its founding in 2008. Though its customers serve a variety of end-product industries, a main focus these days is the automotive OEM.
One of the longest-standing customer relationships at ZPS, according to Tessarzyk, is the nearby Indianapolis production house, Mitchel Scott Machine Company — a full-function, precision parts producer for various manufacturers in the HVAC, agricultural, defense, hydraulic, heavy-duty diesel and especially automotive OEM markets. ZPS has provided a variety of Swiss machines and multi-spindle bar-fed systems to Mitchel & Scott for years, according to the customer’s director of engineering & quality, Pat Mitchel. “A key component in the success of the equipment on our floor is the standard CNC and PLC motion controls on the machine tools and bar feeders from ZPS. With no custom software overlays from the builder, our operators can quickly get up-to-speed with minimal training, a critical factor in our high-production environment.”
Mitchel & Scott typically runs automotive jobs in the 500,000–800,000 piece per year range, producing such components as hydraulic check valves, cam shaft nose and end-pieces, cam phasers, fuel injector housings, direct inject fuel rail assemblies and other products, complete with inline testing and 100% product inspection protocols in place. The company is ISO/TS16949 certified. For one customer, a major European car builder, Mitchel & Scott supplies an entire range of components from its Indianapolis factory, which spans over 150,000 square feet and incorporates a wide range of machining operations plus heat treating, chemical and vibratory finishing, assembly and kitting for its customer base. The company also operates a full metallurgical lab on the premises. A second facility, dedicated to the needs of its HVAC customer base, is located in McMinnville, TN. Mitchel & Scott also offers vendor-managed inventory and has dedicated equipment in-house for select customer production needs. As Pat Mitchel notes, “This seemed risky at the outset, but our customers appreciate the value of these services and the fact that we can be very pro-active in our management of their ongoing production needs.”
Mitchel & Scott currently runs seven ZPS multi-spindle machines with bar-feed systems and post-processing gauging on the equipment, in the central hub of its manufacturing floor. Typical materials processed in this department include 4140, 4142, 1141 and other steels, plus aluminum alloys up to 2¼” diameter bar stock.
Founded in 1933 by Pat Mitchel’s grandfather, the company had long been a producer of high-volume production components, serving the heavy-duty diesel, HVAC and hardware markets, but he notes the gradual emergence of automotive business changed the company’s focus, to a large extent. “We’ve had a concentrated effort in automotive for many years now and the word must be getting around, as we currently ship product to Europe and India plus over 10,000 parts per week to China for our customers.” With the delivery and ramp-up of the first ZPS machine in 2012, the company accelerated this trend toward the high-volume automotive sector.
Mitchel credits the long relationship with ZPS to several factors. “We’d worked with Olaf at another company in the past and, as our needs changed, we turned to him for assistance. The results have been outstanding, owing to the combination of high-quality machines, the application engineering assistance we get and the ZPS ability to provide us a turnkey system. He adds that the local proximity of ZPS to Mitchel & Scott in Indianapolis, as well as the long-time personal business relationship he’s shared with Tessarzyk, are additional contributing factors to the solid business collaboration between the two companies.
Commenting on the controls used on the ZPS machines, both cam and multi-spindle styles, Mitchel observes a consistent quality of performance and nearly zero maintenance issues with the Siemens Sinumerik 840D sl CNC and Simatic S7 PLC systems. For his operators, Mitchel notes, both the CNC and PLC were very intuitive and the learning curve was short. However, as Tessarzyk adds, “There is no customized software overlay onto the Sinumerik CNC or the Simatic PLC units we use. On the CNC machines we offer, a second CNC CPU is typical, as our machines routinely run 50-60 or more axes of motion simultaneously, plus the CNC talks to the PLC on the bar feed system and our Artis tool and process monitoring system is engaged, so there’s a lot going on,” he muses. Despite the complexity of the control scheme and the multiple machines in this core operating department at Mitchel & Scott, Pat Mitchel observes, “It’s almost like the controls are invisible most of the time, as their set-up, operation and maintenance are seamless and really enhance our performance for customers.”
The workhorses of the ZPS installed base here are two Model 867 CNC machines, which each have 80mm, 8-spindle, 16 +1 tool carriers with three tools each onboard. These machines are used on the most complex, large turned parts in-house at Mitchel & Scott. Quick-change Capto tooling is utilized on eight independently driven spindles with a C-axis. Each spindle provides 20kW of power and the machine handles up to a 3” bar diameter and 12” chucking diameter. When needed, the machine can function in twin 4-spindle operation, producing different parts.
Supporting the ZPS CAM and CNC machines here are Cucchi (pronounced “cookie”) bar loaders. On the 867 machines, these automatic bar loaders feed all eight positions in the multi-spindle configuration.
Tessarzyk comments further on the machines. “Because our company is completely vertically integrated, including the foundry where the machine bases are cast, we have great control over the quality on the machines, from the bottom up, literally, plus each of our machines is equipped with a fire suppression safety system onboard. We are cognizant of the need to protect our customers at every turn…and that’s no pun.” Tessarzyk also notes the presence of factory-trained engineers at his Indianapolis location makes the installation and commissioning of ZPS machines possible in as little as three days because of the factory engineers locally. A further advantage of the ZPS business model includes a healthy book of retrofit business. Though Tessarzyk started ZPS America in 2008, there were already many machines in the U.S. market, as the Tajmac lines were sold here by a major machine tool dealer, even prior to the opening of Tajmac-ZPS in 2000. Today, older machines, often up to 20 years in service, are being retrofit with new Sinumerik CNCs, Sinamics drives and Simotics motors at ZPS America.
For more information on this story, please contact:
4950 W. 79th St.
Indianapolis, IN 46268
Attention: Olaf Tessarzyk, President
MITCHEL & SCOTT MACHINE CO.
1841 Ludlow Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46201
Attention: Pat Mitchel, Director of Engineering & Quality
SIEMENS INDUSTRY, INC.
MACHINE TOOL SYSTEMS
390 Kent Avenue
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
Attention: John Meyer, Manager of Marketing Communications