Mind Over Metal: Hurco’s Sophisticated Technology Simplifies Machine Operation
Machine shops use products with space-age technology, but you shouldn’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand the controls.
“What sets Hurco apart is that we take a very complex application and use sophisticated technology in a way that simplifies the use of our machines. We make it easy for shop owners to be productive and profitable,” says Greg Volovic, President, Hurco Companies, Inc.
Hurco is a publicly traded American company (NASDAQ: HURC) with headquarters in Indianapolis and additional facilities in the United States, Asia and Europe. The Indianapolis facility especially focuses on research and development and engineering, in particular the software associated with its controls. Hurco has three brands in its portfolio: Milltronics, the value-based machine tool brand; Takumi, the brand utilizing industry standard controls and Hurco, the technology leader flagship brand. Together, they offer more than 150 different product models, giving IMTS 2018 visitors a rich choice of solutions.
“One of the things that differentiates us is that we encourage show visitors to interact with our technical leaders, whether that’s engineers, Ph.D.-level scientists, software developers and control designers,” says Volovic. “We’re a leader because our technical personnel have a firsthand understanding of end-user priorities.”
Joe Braun, Vice President of Marketing and Product Management for Hurco, adds that Hurco has been exhibiting at IMTS since the early 1970s. “The show is more important than ever before,” he says. “We live in an age of information overload. Customers have information coming at them from all directions, and IMTS is important because customers can come to show, see all different styles and types of machines, and they can do it in one place at one time.”
“We are particularly excited about IMTS 2018 because Hurco will celebrate its 50th anniversary at the show,” adds Volovic. “We will represent all three of our brands at our exhibit in the South Building” (see floor plan).
Follow this link to read about Hurco’s history, which includes exhibiting a prototype control for the first CNC mill at IMTS 1974.
The Hurco WinMax Control. So Smart It’s Simple
“The fastest growing part of our Hurco product line is our 5-axis machines. They’re the fastest way to improve productivity because they reduce set-up time compared to 3-axis machines,” confirms Paul Gray, manager for path planning, front-end design and R&D for Hurco.
Regardless of axis count, Hurco machines are best known for their WinMax controls, which are sophisticated and powerful while at the same time intuitive and flexible. Customers can program either conversationally or offline with a CAM system.
“At IMTS 2018, we’ll showcase one of our newest control innovations, solid model import. We’ll show booth visitors how they can directly import 3D CAD models to the WinMax control, which will virtually write the program for them,” says Gray.
The alternative is to pull out a drawing, look at the dimensions, decipher and interpret the object and cut paths, figure out data blocks and punch in the data and transfer it to the control.
“Solid model import sets the Hurco brand apart by giving users the easiest way to program a part. They don’t have to punch in numbers or scroll through screens. They just click on the parts of the CAD model that they want to cut and WinMax will automatically create the data blocks.”
Gray says that the time required to train new operators on the functionality of a control, or even train current operators on a new control function, can inhibit productivity. Because the solid model import works so simply and elegantly, it drastically reduces programming time to program a part.
“Hurco spends an enormous amount of resources on technology research because it takes a lot of intelligence to make simple controls,” states Gray.
While Hurco’s commitment to technology innovation is most noticeable in the scores of control features, it results in benefits for the entire CNC machine. For example, UltiMotion is the name given to the motion system Hurco invented. UltiMotion is the epitome of user-friendly because the operator doesn’t have to do anything to make it work. There are thousands of complex algorithms and mathematical equations running behind the scenes to optimize look-ahead (up to 10,000 blocks) and provide the most efficient motion. The result is cycle time reduction of up to 30 percent or more, depending upon the complexity of the part (more complex the part, the more cycle time is reduced) and significant improvement in surface finish.
Milltronics: Affordable with Straightforward Features
The Milltronics brand that operates out of Waconia, Minnesota (about 45 minutes southwest of Minneapolis), offers more than 50 models of CNC machine tools. Those include tool room mills, vertical machining centers, lathes and bridge mills.
“Our customers will tell you that when you buy a Milltronics machine, you get an affordable machine with many standard features, including controls that are straightforward and streamlined,” says Milltronics General Manager Louis Pavlokos.
For IMTS 2018, Pavlokos says Milltronics plans to feature the VK4II, a 3-axis CNC knee mill, which features the unique Milltronics mill slide.
“These machines are perfect for tool rooms, maintenance shops and R&D-type facilities,” says Pavlokos. Milltronics will also showcase its SL and ML line of lathes, which feature the same user-friendly controls found on its vertical mills.
“If you walk into our booth at IMTS, you can walk out knowing how to use our controls. They are that straightforward because of features such as conversational programming, onscreen help, intuitive menus, color graphics and prompted tool settings,” states Pavlokos. “Controls such as 8200-B CNC help new operators train faster and become more productive sooner.”
Takumi: For Standard Controls
Well known in the Asian and European markets, Takumi has an installed base of about 5,000 machines. Hurco acquired Takumi in 2015 so that it could offer customers controls from Heidenhain or FANUC.
“Takumi will show three series of machining centers at IMTS 2018: linear guide, box ways and double column. All offer great stability, rigidity, accuracy and speed,” says Dan Ornelas, Vice President of Manufacturing Operations at Product Design, Hurco.
The VC Series (linear guide machines) provides high efficiency and fast rapids in a small footprint with a large work cube. The V Series are box-way machining centers for heavy-duty cutting with high stability, and the H Series double-column provides an extremely rigid design for parts that require high precision and excellent surface finishes.
Ornelas says that at IMTS 2018, Takumi will introduce a new 5-axis machine called the U Series. “We see a lot of worldwide growth in the die and mold market, as well as other five-sided applications,” he notes.
A Culture of Service
Even with industry-leading hardware and software, “What sets Hurco apart is how well we take care of customers. Customer service is as much a core competency as technology,” says Mike Garlick, Operations and General Manager for Hurco Companies. Having been with the company for 37 years, Garlick can recall many stories of Hurco employees who have gone the extra mile — literally — because the company culture fosters service.
“If a customer calls one of our service engineers on a Saturday, they pick up the phone,” he says. “In fact, when you call our main number, you get a person, not a machine. And when you hang up, your problem is solved.”
Being a technology-based company, Hurco uses technology to help customers diagnose and maintain their machines. With remote capabilities, service engineers in Indianapolis and Waconia can quickly respond. Garlick notes that Hurco doesn’t grade itself on customer service; they ask for customer feedback and how they can improve.
“We understand how critical it is to have a machine running and making parts. We pride ourselves on helping customers keep their spindles turning, regardless of their size,” says Garlick.
“If you visit our booth at IMTS 2018, you're going meet Mike and members of our service team,” says Braun. “IMTS is different from other shows because companies don’t just bring their sales people, they bring their representatives at every level. There’s no better place to experience technology and get to know the people who stand behind it.”