Balancing Act between High-Tech and Craftsmanship
[ Published in HOERBIGER@MOTION 01/2013 ]
It takes a lot of courage to become a pilot user, leaving the mainstream and exploring new avenues with innovative technology. Many of these bold companies are small- and medium-sized businesses. One example of such a Hidden Champion is EHT Werkzeugmaschinen GmbH, located in Teningen near Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany. With its new MultiPress 110 press brake, the company is introducing the electrohydraulic ePrAX press drive which was newly developed by HOERBIGER.
EHT Werkzeugmaschinen GmbH has always a company that explores new avenues. A look at the corporate history serves as proof. The foundry established in 1771 initially evolved into a manufacturer of all kinds of machinery and equipment. In 1950, EHT started to produce cutting machines and press brakes for sheet metal working. Today, the company is one of the technologically leading manufacturers of machine tools, especially press brakes, in the world. Unlike many of its competitors, EHT does not produce the machine tools with maximum vertical integration. Instead, the company focuses on its core competencies. When EHT develops components for which it does not possess in-house core competency, it looks for partnerships with suppliers that in turn contribute their expert knowledge.
EHT Werkzeugmaschinen GmbH attaches the greatest importance to manufacturing know-how. In Teningen, complete machine frames and beams for CNC guillotine shears and press brakes are produced in large machining centers. Components that were previously purchased include standardized drive elements, such as the hydraulic cylinders for the conventional hydraulic press brakes. However, these elements were formerly also not procured as ready-to-install systems, but assembled in-house. With HOERBIGER, this in-house assembly is no longer required: EHT receives the ePrAX as a complete, ready-to-install system.
Similar to the clothing industry, EHT refers to the machines in sizes: Bending and cutting, from S to XXL. EHT internally refers to the small machines as hook machines. They feature all-steel construction and can be loaded on a truck for transport. The larger machines are composed of multiple individual parts, which are shipped in crates to the customer, where they are reassembled. In the case of the largest XXL models, the entire assembly takes place on site at the buyer's facility. The range of EHT's press brake portfolio covers machines with a press capacity of less than 100 tons to those with a 2000-ton capacity, with bending lengths of metal sheets ranging from 2 to 12 meters (6.5 to 39.3 feet).
For many years, EHT was focusing on the production of standard machines. This changed in 2003, when the Baden company entered into a sales cooperation agreement with TRUMPF Werkzeugmaschinen GmbH + Co. KG in Ditzingen, Germany. Thereafter, EHT started to manufacture customized special-purpose machines for cutting and bending. Of late, the company is also marketing these machines on its own.
EHT relies on a 'common part' concept to minimize delivery times for such tailored solutions: even special-purpose machines are produced to a large extent from a modular system containing exchangeable components. In addition to special-purpose machinery, in the long term EHT Werkzeugmaschinen GmbH plans to increasingly offer lower-priced machines from the catalog. A first step in this direction is the new MultiPress generation. Depending on the version, the MultiPress press brakes can bend metal sheets with strokes of 280 mm at a capacity of 110 tons to 250 tons - at high speed, in rapid feed mode up to 230 mm/s.
When it comes to manufacturing the MultiPress, EHT focuses on new internal processes. The production machines are assembled based on a variety of separately prefabricated component groups. While EHT develops and produces the VarioPress series individually for each customer, the company relies on predefined main drives for the MultiPress, which can be supplemented with additional packages HOERBIGER suggested manufacturing seven different machine types, offering varying lengths and tonnages, with the new electrohydraulic ePrAX drives, which are used for the first time in the MultiPress series.