Fresh Growth for Spanish Manufacturers
As manufacturing in Spain continues to pick up, smart companies know that investment in the right manufacturing technology can provide genuine competitive gain. Two such companies are RS Moldes and RECA, Catalan firms whose recent acquisitions of Haas machining centres from local Haas Factory Outlet (HFO), HITEC Máquinas, have produced a timely boost in performance.
Automotive is among the industries showing encouraging signs of growth in Spain. RS Moldes, based near Barcelona, produces moulds that make parts for top auto builders at home and abroad (the firm is discreet about exactly who). Two years ago, the company invested in a Haas VM-6 CNC vertical mould making machining centre, which managers say offered value for money that simply couldn’t be matched.
The company’s owner, Raul Sanjuan, started RS Moldes 14 years ago with just two machines. But carefully planned investments, such as the Haas VM-6, have placed the company in a very advantageous market position.
The Haas VM-6 is being used to produce a whole host of complex moulds and dies, in materials ranging from aluminium to special alloy steels. End parts can be anything from a side-mirror chassis to a steering rack. In addition, the company serves sectors that include rail, domestic appliance, and perfumery.
“The trend for intricate, deep features is one of the challenges we face on a daily basis,” says Mr. Sanjuan, “as it requires the use of very small cutters. Take this chassis of a rear mirror for a German auto company, for example. The mould produces four units, and is very complex, with eight sliders and very narrow, but deep, indentations.”
The problem is eased, however, thanks to the capabilities of the Haas VM-6, which is the first Haas machine tool on-site at RS Moldes.
“Our experience with the Haas machine is very good,” states Mr. Sanjuan. “We were unsure at first, because we didn’t know the brand, but now it’s among the best machines in our workshop, and helps us hold tolerances in the region of 0.01 to 0.02 mm!”
Although the Haas VM-6 at RS is surrounded by other-brand CNC machine tools, the head of workshop, Mr. Rafael Cabezas, claims the Haas is more accurate. This is important, explains Mr Sanjuan, as the volumes produced are high, and there is little margin for error.
“We send our moulds up the supply chain to smelting shops,” he says. “They will work with it for a period of time, say six months, then order a new one. It depends on the production run of the vehicle and the number of units sold.”
Although the industries served are quite different, customer requirements are similarly demanding at nearby RECA (Rejillas Calibradas), which makes and exports hundreds of varieties of metallic, embossed, and perforated-steel flooring. The 60-year-old company’s trio of Haas VF-7 CNC vertical machining centres are used to make tool dies for stamping its products.
Before buying its first Haas machine 10 years ago, RECA had three ageing, German-built machining centres. However, difficulty sourcing spare parts prompted the 80-employee, €24-million-turnover company to source an alternative machine tool supplier. A salesman working for a former Haas distributor introduced Julio Merlos, factory co-ordinator at RECA, to Haas machines. Mr. Merlos was invited to see in action a Haas machine installed locally, where he learnt from the user that it was in constant use, without any problems.
“The big challenge at RECA, of course, was the materials we cut,” says Mr. Merlos, “such as ASP 23, a chromium-molybdenum-tungsten-vanadium high-speed tool steel that we buy from Uddeholm. However, the Haas VF-7 machine demonstrated no issues, and we subsequently acquired two more in the years since. In fact, we’ve had no reliability issues whatsoever with any of our Haas machines, notwithstanding the heavy-duty cutting.”
The dies produced at RECA are extremely complex. Holes – sometimes numbering up to 1100 per die, and ranging from 0.5 to 16 mm in diameter – are produced to location tolerances of 3 µm. Each one has to be reamed; hence, on-machine time can be as long as two weeks. With an average of two new designs coming through on a weekly basis, the Haas machines are extremely busy.
“At first, one concern was the technical assistance,” says Mr. Merlos. “However, I am very happy to say, we have no complaints. The technical assistance from the HFO is particularly good.”
HFO-Spain, a Division of HITEC Máquinas CNC SL, supports both RECA and RS Moldes. Since it was established in mid-2012, the company has supplied more than 150 Haas machines year-on-year into the Spanish market. HFO-Spain is continuing to grow, both in terms of market share and its number of service engineers, who are tasked with delivering exemplary service and back-up, always up to HFO standards.
Like RS Moldes and RECA, there are many Haas customers in Spain enjoying healthy returns on their investments, reaping the performance benefits of their Haas CNC machine tools – arguably, the best value machines available with the lowest overall cost of ownership. Precisely what the Spanish economy needs during its recovery.