TRS 3-flute coolant-through carbide drill slashes machining time in bulldozer track frame production
Valdir Lima | OSG Sulamericana
Harsh, dangerous, stressful, demanding and masculine are common keywords come to mind when referring to the heavy industry, which may include construction and mining. Due to these negative perceptions, this sector often struggles to secure adequate skilled professionals while facing a backlog of projects. Against the general stigmas, jobs in heavy industry have a high degree of autonomy and employ some of the most sophisticated and powerful machines in their manufacturing process.
Komatsu Limited, a Japanese multinational corporation and one of the world’s largest manufacturers of construction equipment and mining equipment, is a key player in support of the growth of the heavy industry worldwide. Founded in 1921, the Komatsu Group today consists of over 180 companies around the globe. In 1975, Komatsu do Brasil Ltda. was established to serve as Komatsu’s South American division.
Located in Suzano, São Paulo, the Komatsu do Brasil plant has approximately 634,000-square-meter of production floor space and employs 647 staff. At this state-of-the-art facility, Komatsu do Brasil is always looking for new solutions to boost speed, safety and cost efficiency to provide heavy industry businesses with reliable quality products.
Bulldozers are some of Komatsu do Brasil’s core products. A bulldozer is a tractor fitted with a dozer blade used for maneuvering materials such as soil, sand and rubble. Bulldozers are used on a wide range of sites, including mines, military bases, heavy industry factories and farms to handle projects that require highly mobile, powerful and stable earth-moving equipment.
A bulldozer is made up of a number of components, such as the cab, track, coiled track, frames, blade, engine, hood, rollers, idlers, and more. The manufacturing of bulldozers requires a combination of processes, such as CNC machining, welding and powder coat painting involving skilled technicians as well as robotic support with automated assembly line.
Komatsu was seeking processing improvement in their production of track frame, which is a side-frame component of their bulldozer. In terms of production volume, Komatsu manufactures approximately 1,200 vehicles per year.
Made of cast steel, each track frame has 46 through holes measured at 14 mm in diameter and 37 mm in depth. The machining center being used to produce these track frames is the Shin Nippon Koki CNC portal milling machine. A BT50 tool holder is also used to secure the tooling. Komatsu was originally using a competitor 2-flute double margin coolant-through carbide drill with a 140-degree point angle for this application. With the 2-flute drill, Komatsu was encountering problems such as tool breakage, processing time and performance instability.
Two-flute drills have their limitations when the need to cut production cost in half while doubling efficiency arises. Looking to improve production cost efficiency, Komatsu Process Engineer Rafael Fernando Braz, who is responsible for the manufacturing of the track frames, consulted with OSG regarding the application, as Komatsu and OSG have a long-time partnership in both Brazil and in Japan. Upon a detail evaluation of the application, OSG recommended the 14 mm diameter TRS “Mega Muscle” 5D 3-flute coolant-through carbide drill (EDP# 8663400).
The TRS “Mega Muscle” drill is the world’s first 3-flute drill for steels. Patented geometry permits stable chip ejection, even with less chip pocket space inherent in 3-flute drills. The TRS is able to help Komatsu reduce machining time by 30 percent and double tool life in their production of track frames.
Conventional 3-flute drills are most commonly used in the processing of materials with short cutting chips, such as cast iron and cast aluminum. Because 3-flute drills have a smaller flute size (chip room) than 2-flute drills, they are less frequently used in difficult-to-machine materials like steels. OSG’s TRS is the world’s first 3-flute drill for steels with patented flute shape that breaks steel chips into small, manageable pieces for easy evacuation, enabling ideal performance even in steels. This feature allows for increased feed rates up to 1.5 to 2 times faster than 2-flute drills. Further, its 120-degree equal spacing margin allows vibration-free processing and improved hole tolerance with less work hardening, which gives secondary operations such as tapping even more tool life.
The original competitor tool was running at a rotational speed of 1,800 min-1, feed rate of 455 mm/min, and cutting speed of 70 m/min. The processing time per part was 22 minutes. The TRS, on the other hand, runs at a rotational speed of 1,900 min-1, feed rate of 950 mm/min and cutting speed of 85 m/min. The TRS is able to reduce processing time to 15 minutes and 52 seconds per part, which is equivalent to approximately 30 percent time reduction. In terms of tool life, the previous tooling choice required four drills per month. With the TRS, only two drills are required per month, decreasing tool consumption by half.
A pair of track frames pending for completion at Komatsu do Brasil’s production plant in Suzano, São Paulo.
“When we needed improved performance, OSG’s TRS drill demonstrated superior results for our application,” said Komatsu Process Engineer Rafael Fernando Braz. “The TRS 3-flute drill helped us solve a critical application very successfully, and we intend to expand this solution to other applications.”
The heavy industry is a key sector that contributes to the development and growth of the global economy. As Komatsu has demonstrated, dirty and manual work is a stereotype of the past. The modern heavy industry is high-tech, safe, powerful and reliable. As the heavy industry’s tough materials and large production require strong tools designed for performance, OSG is ready to supply superior tooling solutions to help manufacturers in this important sector continue their journey of constructing excellence.
“Our partnership with OSG has always been a positive experience,” said Braz. “In addition to providing satisfactory tooling solutions, OSG’s staff always supply us with the latest metal cutting knowledge so that we can fully leverage the cutting tools as well as our equipment to reach optimum cost efficiency.”