Barcelona Innovation and Technology
The name alone is a clue to the ambitions of this apparently modest CNC machining business near Girona, in the north of Catalunya, Spain. Inside and out, it appears like so many of its kind the world over; after all, the majority of Haas customers are small- to medium-sized, privately owned “job shops.” On the basis of first appearances, it could just as easily be called A N Other. Production manager Mr. Lluis Lloveras insists BIT is different, however.
Lluis Lloveras: We don’t want to be thought of us a general-purpose machine shop. For example, we don’t try to compete on price alone. We tend to specialize in complex parts in small runs and tough materials.
Two years ago, we bought our first Haas CNC machine tool: a VF-3 vertical machining centre fitted with a Haas HRT210 rotary table. Six months later, we bought the bigger VF-7, and just recently we took delivery of a Haas ST-20SSY super speed turning centre with Y-axis. The ST isn’t running yet, but we already have new business and a new client, just on the strength of investing in that one machine.
A lot of our business currently is in special machinery, the railway, and food processing industries. However, our long-term aim over the next five years or so is to grow our business with tier-two suppliers in the petrochemical, automotive, and aerospace sectors. To do so means we have to invest in machines that allow us to make more complex parts, with quicker and fewer setups. That’s the reason for buying the Haas ST-20SSY. Instead of using two machines to finish a part – and therefore two setups – it’ll be turned and milled on the same machine. Done in one!
Right now, we machine all of our hard steel parts on the two Haas verticals. They’re tough and accurate machines, and are quite happy cutting nickel alloys like Inconel 718. We’re using the VF-3 to make a large cam used in the food processing sector. The material is tool steel, and the tolerances are +/-0.008 mm. My son, Joel, runs the machine. In fact, he also runs the VF-7, and I guess he’ll be pretty keen to get his hands on the new machine, too.
Joel Lloveras: I joined the company ten years ago, when I was sixteen. I learnt to machine using manual mills, but since we’ve had the Haas CNC machines, they’ve become my responsibility. I like the Haas control, first and foremost. It’s so easy to use; the design is very logical and clear, and as it’s the same on all Haas machines, I can easily switch from one to the other. A little thing that makes life easier is the USB port. It doesn’t sound like much, but it helps us when we move programmes from our Fanuc-based controls to the Haas machines.
I also like the Haas load monitor. On the VF-7, we make some pretty big and expensive parts in hard metals. We can’t afford to make scrap. At the moment we’re machining twelve cast sections of a pipe expander, for a customer in the petrochemical industry. Each part is around a meter long, half a meter wide, and ten centimeters deep. We machine both sides – one convex and one flat – which take around twelve hours, in total. The spindle load condition can be set for a particular tool, so if the spindle load exceeds that amount, the machine will stop and an alarm will sound. It can save a part, and it can also save an expensive tool.
Another seemingly small but important feature of both the Haas verticals is the size of their windows. The visibility is excellent! So many other machines have such tiny windows that once the coolant starts you can’t see a thing!
Lluis Lloveras: I’m responsible for specifying and purchasing the company’s CNC machine tools, plus the various options they come with. Investing in Haas has definitely been the right thing to do. The machines have worked flawlessly, even though we work them very hard. Also, the service and support from the Barcelona Haas Factory Outlet have been great.
The newer machines in the Haas range, like the UMC-750SS, are perfect for us as we move toward more complex parts and, perhaps, higher volumes. People might think customers source from Spain because, compared to other countries in Europe, we just offer low cost. But, that’s not true. We have to provide innovation and better solutions, invest in the latest technology, and compete on value-added. That’s why I think, a few years from now, we’ll have a lot more Haas machines in our workshop. They give us the capability we need, they’re affordable, and they’re very reliable.