Suppliers speak: Current demands, technologies and the bright future

Today’s engineering environment demands machine partners that are innovative, progressive, and understand what is needed within that partnership. When it comes to CNC machines, New Zealand is lucky to have ‘the right tools’, sourced from experts who supply and manufacture leading-edge technology and machinery.

Back-dropped by a COVID-19 landscape, getting machinery into the country has been no easy task nor has those key experts who fine-tune machines at installation. But problems aside, the sector is in good shape with higher spec, faster and smarter machinery constantly in development.

Some of these key industry CNC providers share with NZ Engineering News the challenges currently being faced in the current engineering environment and how they can help your business…

Keeping up with demand

“The demands placed on your business become tougher every day, as modern manufacturers are tasked with meeting ever-tightening tolerances and problem-solving to deliver the desired result by strict deadlines,” says Fred de Jong, general manager at Okuma New Zealand. De Jong has extensive knowledge in the performance of CNC machine tools; a base that has been accumulated across 45 years in the industry.

He says that Okuma has developed technologies to lend a helping hand.

“Each technology, in its own way, was designed to enhance machine cutting performance, no matter how complicated the part shape, no matter how complex the part surface,” says de Jong.

“Every manufactured part is unique. And now, you have the tools to ensure speed, accuracy and efficiency when you face your next manufacturing challenge.”

When it comes to maintaining the machines, Okuma’s Thermo-Friendly Concept (TFC) offers protection against thermal growth within the machine tool.

“By combining control technology and machine design to minimise the amount of heat generated, and deal with the heat that can’t be eliminated, TFC helps you improve quality, save time, and reduce the incidence of waste product by controlling the ‘uncontrollable’,” says de Jong.

“Ultimately, through machine or programme adjustments, you don’t have to worry about your parts being deformed inside your shop, no matter what the weather is outside of it.”

By integrating 3D modelling of its machines, blanks and tooling, de Jong says Okuma creates virtual machines.

“When you run the real-time virtual application seconds ahead of the actual cutting, any problems can be detected early, and the machine can be stopped before a costly collision.

“While virtual modelling enquires exacting dimensions and definitions, we can meet these stringent requirements since we manufacture the machine and custom-create the applications.”

Easy to access machinery

Zahid Aung, director at Laser Machines Limited, says another issue affecting the sector is that “currently, some manufacturers are taking longer lead time to manufacture CNC machineries”.

The Wellington-based business is a sole agent for Bodor Laser in New Zealand and Australia, providing CNC laser cutting machines – including 2D, 3D and CNC tube laser cutting machines.

“Bodor Laser machines offer the most up-to-date competitive technologies and have features that you would find in most popular brands.”

And because the machines are manufactured in Asia, Aung says this makes them easier to access in today’s market at affordable prices.

“Manufacturers who are based in the Asian market, such as China, can now produce technology and quality close to or equivalent to traditional brands which are made in Europe, US and the UK.

“Bodor Laser uses IPG photonics lasers, for most of their machines and Pricitec and Bodor Genius Laser cutting heads.

“Most of the CNC lasers use European controllers and Japanese controllers and we are proud to sell Bodor Laser machines in New Zealand with very attractive prices,” says Aung.

Laser machines also have local engineers who have been trained to conduct ongoing service support for New Zealand customers, and most of its machines can be fully automated where required.

User-friendly equipment

Automation is also front and centre with the machines supplied by Machineryhouse.

“Here in New Zealand and globally there is a shortage of skilled engineers and young talent coming into engineering,” says Miles Donald, NZ national manager at Machineryhouse.

“The ease of the Haas control allows new users to step into the world of CNC.”

As the country’s distributor of Haas, Machineryhouse has been a “go-to company” in New Zealand’s machine tool and manufacturing industries for more than 35 years. With branches nationwide, the team at Machineryhouse possess a wealth of industry knowledge and expertise.

Donald says that Haas’ ease of set up and user-friendly nature makes the “learning curve and follow-on day to day use very easy”.

“Couple this with the aspect that control is common between lathe, mill, 5-axis, horizontal, makes for a machine shop with operators easily moved from machine to machine.”

And when things don’t exactly go to plan or some extra help is required, Donald says that is also sorted.

“We have three Haas certified service technicians, based in the North and South Island, the largest inventory of spare parts – all as part of the Haas Ethos – just in case.

“If a machine tool is down from say an operator error or general wear over time, time is money and in a competitive world we operate in lead-time to your customer, this is paramount.”

In the typical Kiwi way, it’s clear that despite the hurdles the sector is currently experiencing, those in the industry are already putting their best foot forward and finding the solutions.