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An amazed technophile

Inside manufacturing 2019-03-28 Tomas Lundin Barbara Milavec

Passionate about cutting-edge technology, fast-growing Slovenian metal company Riedl CNC introduced Sandvik Coromant’s new PrimeTurning™ solution in 2018. When the company applied it to KTM motorcycle components, productivity increased 40 percent and costs declined by more than 50,000 euros a year.

​Tomaž Riedl, founder and sole owner of Riedl Group, is in his own words a “technophile”. So it follows that he would be interested in new technology such as Sandvik Coromant’s PrimeTurning solution.
“To be honest, I didn’t know we were testing PrimeTurning before my guys knocked at the door to tell me to come down to the shop floor,” Riedl recalls. “They wanted to show me something.”
Rok Kos, CNC machining programmer and one of the technicians working with the tests from the beginning, says, “At first Tomaž didn’t believe it. But when he saw how stable the process was and when we told him about the productivity gains, he was amazed.”

​Riedl CNC is located in the Slovenian city of Maribor, just 20 kilometres south of the Austrian border. The company focuses on individual solutions for more than 200 customers throughout Europe.
One of Riedl’s clients is Austrian motorcycle and sports cars manufacturer KTM, known for its successes in motocross racing and in the Dakar Rally. Many of the Riedl employees are fans of the company. From the factory ceiling, there is a KTM motorbike hanging, and on the walls are huge pictures showing machines racing across the desert. For these heavy-duty Enduro motorbikes, Riedl is producing some 100,000 axles per year.
Before PrimeTurning was introduced, explains Sandi Rode, Sandvik Coromant’s local sales engineer, the process involved three different operations with several tool changes. First was a grooving operation in the middle of the component, then roughing with an upper and lower holding and finally finishing with new inserts.
It was a slow process, compared with PrimeTurning. “On the old machine we produced 120 parts in one shift,” says CNC operator Goran Golić. “Now we make 180 parts. With one edge we produce 90 parts. This is 30 percent more than before.”

​Another problem with the old process was that the chips had to be cleared away at least five times every shift. Every time, the machine had to be stopped for five minutes. With PrimeTurning, this is not the case anymore, the chip control is so controlled no stops are needed for clearance.
As he shows visitors around the shop floor, Tomaž Riedl comments that the competition is extremely hard in the industries he is aiming at, especially in rail technology and aerospace, which are the segments where he sees most potential for his company.
“To be successful in these industries, we need to be at the forefront of the technological development,” he says. In the past few years, Riedl has invested 13 million euros in new machines and a new building. At the same time, turnover increased to 9 million euros in 2018, with sales estimated to rise to 15 million euros by 2022.

​The machine park now comprises dozens of high-quality machines such as 14-axis and 13-axis CNC turning-milling centres, several five-axis CNC milling centres and advanced scanners and measuring devices.
“We are moving very fast,” says Riedl, pointing at a black-and-white photo on the wall showing the company in 1994: a small garage in Maribor city centre with one machine and Riedl doing everything himself.
Crucial to this success has been Riedl’s openness to new technology and new ways to make production leaner and more productive. But nowadays, Riedl says he is not involved in every step of testing new tools and new methods.

​Instead, he relies on the creativity and experience of his employees, as well as on suppliers dedicated to selling not only tools but technology, know-how and solutions.
Says Riedl, “For me a top supplier like Sandvik Coromant is actually as much worth as a top customer.”

 

 

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