Sandvik Coromant’s new PrimeTurning™ method helped increase productivity and reduce cycle time for an Indian aerospace components manufacturer faced with a challenge in a new order involving a difficult-to-machine steel grade.
In 2015, Godrej Aerospace (Exports Unit), a prime player in Indian aerospace manufacturing, won an export order to manufacture integral components for a recently launched engine. The parts were to be made from a specific grade of steel with a high resistance to corrosion and cracking. “We thought that since it was a stainless-steel alloy and we had experience working with it for orders from major global customers, we’d be able to deliver very quickly,” recalls Narendra Patwardhan, Senior General Manager – Operations, Godrej Aerospace.
But on the shop floor, it soon became clear that this particular grade of stainless steel was very different, especially when it came to ease of machining. Furthermore, the existing set of tools were unable to handle it efficiently and in a timely fashion. “We realised we needed to change the cutting tool,” Patwardhan says.
With great demand for the new engine, the customer was pushing for speedy delivery. Several vendors including Sandvik Coromant were approached to explore suitable solutions. “Our customers were getting a lot of orders, this meant an increase in the orders we received from them,” recalls Patwardhan. “Our contract is such that whatever the load, we have to accept and deliver. They said that we could either ramp up our capacity and deliver or, they will find somebody else if business is affected because of delays.”
In order to meet the demand over the next six months, the company would have to step up the output from two units per week to 20, a tenfold increase. “We needed a quantum leap and were banking on a ‘wonder’ cutting tool,” he says.
Around the same time, in 2016, Sandvik Coromant came out with its PrimeTurning tool, an innovation in turning methodology. Godrej Aerospace, a loyal customer of years approached Sandvik Coromant and they offered the new tool. “Ultimately the tool on the machine speaks for itself,” says Rahul Inamdar, Product Specialist for turning tools at Sandvik Coromant. “The trial began in the morning and by evening, the client was convinced that this solution would work.”
However, there was a concern that PrimeTurning would destabilise the clamp due to its unconventional turning operations. Sandvik Coromant quickly provided a technical solution introducing a finishing insert that generated a lower cutting force.
Within a fortnight, trials were done with PrimeTurning establishing both consistency and speed. In fact, with the cutting time reduced from 45 minutes to 15 minutes, Sandvik Coromant’s PrimeTurning tool was proving to be exactly the wonder tool Godrej Aerospace was looking for. “It gave me immense relief,” says Patwardhan. “Customer pressure was mounting, and this solution helped us meet the challenge.”
Tarun Bellani, Sandvik Coromant Territory Manager for Mumbai, says that with PrimeTurning, Godrej Aerospace can now machine 10-12 components in the time it had previously taken to machine two to three components. “So time is saved, productivity is increased and labour can be deployed for other operations,” he says.
For Godrej Aerospace, with annual sales of USD 4 million and an ambitious plan to scale up to USD 10 million in the next two years, this solution opened new vistas. “This cutting solution has solved many of our problems,” says Jagdish Gavali, Godrej Aerospace’s Associate Chief Manager, Manufacturing. “Earlier, as the cutting consumed more cycle time, the tool life was reduced and chips were formed in long coils. This caused fatigue to the operator as he had to periodically remove the chips which could get entangled in the machine and affect cutting. Now, with PrimeTurning breaking the chips into small pieces, the problem has been solved.”
He further adds that the reduction in turning cycle time from 45 to 15 minutes boosted the morale of the operators, helping them to be more productive and less fatigued.
“The customer had earlier asked us to increase our production of components from 30 to 60 percent,” he says, “which has been done over a period of eight months. Our delivery is 100 percent on time.”
Kiran Khangar, Senior Manager, Purchase, for Godrej Aerospace, says that even though the PrimeTurning tool is more expensive, the end results justify the extra cost. “We always look at productivity and cost per component,” he says. “We are happy. The cycle time has been reduced and productivity has increased. [Sandvik Coromant’s] logistics and supply chain are excellent, and timely delivery is assured.”
Patwardhan says Godrej Aerospace has plans to use PrimeTurning for other orders as well. “If it works on tough materials like this, it will work fine on other materials we use, such as Stellite,” he says. “As for Sandvik Coromant, they have always been a trusted partner, and we see this relationship further strengthening by providing innovative technology solutions.”
“We’ll give them more challenges,” he adds. “I’m confident they will offer the right solutions.