Since the Haco group took over the Polish lathe manufacturer FAT, Sinumerik CNC accomplished the evolution of the company. Ever since, FAT Haco can look back on 15 years of using Sinumerik. Gabriel Joye, managing director of FAT-Haco about the rise of Fat.
About 15 years ago, the Belgian Haco group of machine builders, who originally became famous for their sheet and woodworking machines, took over the Polish state-owned company FAT (Fabryka Automatow Tokarskich), a manufacturer of automatic lathes. Originally, FAT focussed on manufacturing lathes, teach-in lathes and slant bed lathes. By now, they have about 200 employees and are evolving towards larger and more complex machines – like turning centers.Turning centers can be used for milling, drilling, tapping, grinding and so on – all in addition to turning.
”In other words, one can produce completely finished items, all one the same machine,“ Gabriel Joye, managing director of FAT Haco, explains."Initially, the management saw opportunities in simply mechanically upgrading the existing range of machining possibilities of the company – but in the end, we decided to expand the production of lathes,“ says Joye.
"Under the former Polish regime, economic activity was regulated strictly – which means that only a limited number of manufacturers was allowed to manufacture lathes. And if so, then only in a specific basic segment. FAT, for example, was only allowed to manufacture lathes with a swing of 560 and 630. After the fall of the former regime, quite a number of Polish companies – including FAT – have been privatized step-by-step. ”And after this privatization, we finally have been able to expand the production of conventional lathes to teach-in lathes and bigger sizes and ranges,“ Joye states.
FAT possessed the expertise and the technology, at least as far as conventional machines were concerned. What they needed, however, was to establish computerized numerical control machines. ”Since we took the step to CNC, we decided to use Sinumerik – and this is how the cooperation with Siemens Belgium came about,“ Joye continues.
"Besides, there aren’t so many other manufacturers of control systems. And since Siemens is well-established in Western Europe, where our intended market was mainly located, the decision was soon made. Other reasons for the cooperation with Siemens have been the good service infrastructure in Western Europe as well as their general expertise of CNC systems. And once the decision was made, all of their machines have been fitted with Sinumerik controls. Recently, the integration of the 1,000th Sinumerik CNC in the 1,000th FAT machine was celebrated.
Last, but not least, Siemens Belgium was recently approved by the Siemens head office as ”Competence Center for Retrofit for Central Europe,“ which also qualified them for the FAT project. ”All of these points played a prominent role with regard to our decision,“ says Joye.
”By now, the cooperation between Siemens and FAT has grown from a pure customer/supplier relationship into a full-fledged industrial partnership,“ Thierry Van Eeckhout, Siemens Belgium, confirms. "Six machines in the company’s machine park have already been retrofitted so far. During these initial retrofits we still took full responsibility for the project, but experts from FAT, however, are now able to carry out the complete electrical retrofit by themselves – which means that we can limit our involvement to supporting specific functions,“Van Eeckhout continues.
"During the FAT relaunch, the machine stock was up-graded with finishing machines and with exisiting machines from other plants of the Haco group. A high-precision spindle grinder was also acquired. "Currently we are building 14 to 15 machines per month on average."
"The sales markets for our standard machines include the automotive, aviation, hydraulics and agricultural machines sectors. We are, however, fully committed to building larger and more complex machines,“ Joye reveals. "Larger machines because there is less competition, complex machines because they offer more possibilities and have a larger capacity.“
At FAT Haco, everyone is pleased with the long-term use of Sinumerik: ”For our original intention – migrating from conventional lathes to teach-in lathes – the ManualTurn version was the best solution for us. But when we subsequently switched to CNC machines, we integrated ShopTurn – which is, in my point of view and with regard to its performance, the best version of Sinumerik. As part of the further expansion of our turning centers, we are planning to integrate ShopMill as well,“ Joye explains.
Michael Brückner, Director Business Development, Sinumerik High-End at Siemens, is also positive about the company’s development: ”End-users demand machines which are more accurate and incur lower logistical costs – a trend which FAT follows closely.“