Innovation, a must for machine tool manufacturers

Iosu Unzueta,
managing director at GEMINIS

GEMINIS is a Gipuzkoa-based company that forms part of the MAHER HOLDING industrial group and whose activities are focused on the machine tool sector. Since the year 1957, GEMINIS has mainly developed multi-process and horizontal lathes for high technology railway maintenance workshops by offering highly specialised customised services. In this interview, Iosu Unzueta, the managing director of GEMINIS, talks about how crucial innovation is for machine tool manufacturers.

1.- Identifying and minimising thermal errors is essential to optimise machine tool efficiency. But why is it so important?

It is important because thermal errors reduce the accuracy large lathes under normal operating conditions. Consequently, and in order to improve accuracy, errors must be identified, quantified and corrected.

Thanks to our collaborative work with IK4-TEKNIKER we are developing a thermal compensation model that will allow us to improve the accuracy of our machines by up to 50%. Thanks to this approach it is possible to monitor a range of temperatures in different locations of the machine (room temperature, header, counterpoint and bedplate temperature…) and correct any shifting resulting from temperature variations occurring during machining processes.

2.- What role does innovation play with regard to turning and milling technologies and, more specifically, when very large machines have to be developed?

Innovation is vital for all machinery manufacturers as it is enhances our competitiveness in our efforts to implement advanced manufacturing. This is why about 8% of our turnover is spent on R&D&I actions. It is absolutely crucial to implement the right innovation strategies and industrialise and market end results. Thanks to a number of intensive R&D&I actions, GEMINIS has been able to develop and market large multi-process units to machine complex parts for which only a single machine is required to perform different machining processes such as turning, milling, grinding, etc.

3.- What kind of added value do the solutions developed for GEMINIS lathes deliver?

GEMINIS machines offer technicians a perfect balance to control a machine that only professionals can use and produces high added value parts with a minimum margin of error. This machine, moreover, offers the very best with regard to safety and usability and it’s what we’ve termed “an expert’s pride”.

If your goal consists in manufacturing complex parts according to very demanding tolerances and achieving maximum throughput, it is important to closely monitor the processes being carried out by the machine. Easy access to the workpiece, together with enhanced swarf collection and design ergonomics, among other features, deliver optimum workability.

Real-time decisions can also be taken by monitoring working conditions and productivity thanks to the 4.0 technologies installed on the machine.

This makes technicians feel proud about their work and their main tool: the GEMINIS lathe.

4.- GEMINIS activities are based on innovation. What does a research centre such as IK4-TEKNIKER contribute as regards making further progress along this path?

In a global environment that is becoming increasingly competitive, size really matters. A company of our size does not have enough in-house resources to address processes like this internally. Thought must also be given to specialised knowledge. It is very difficult to bring together specific types of diverse knowledge on different work lines. Thanks to the close cooperation between GEMINIS and IK4-TEKNIKER we are advancing quicker in terms of technological innovation.

5.- The Machine Tool Conference closed recently and has attracted many of the sector’s most outstanding stakeholders. What are your feelings after this last conference? How is the sector going to approach future challenges?

The major challenge connected to digitising the machine tool sector and making the most of new technologies has to be met head-on if we want to advance towards the future. Advanced manufacturing, increased productivity and innovation are fundamental concepts that were discussed during the conference and that we, the machine tool manufacturers, have never lost from sight. The conference has not only allowed us to visualise innovation trends but to also identify improvement opportunities so that sector can get ready to deal with a future that is going to be much more competitive.