A new machine for PPS Group a.s. significantly improved the process of preparation for welds

PPS Detva a.s. nestled in the heartland of Slovakia and right under the (thankfully) inactive volcano Poľana has been producer of large machinery components for more than 15 years. However, the story of company has began half a century earlier.
PPS Detva a.s. nestled in the heartland of Slovakia and right under the (thankfully) inactive volcano Poľana has been producer of large machinery components for more than 15 years. However, the story of company has began half a century earlier.

Podpolianske strojárne as they were known at the time laid the corner stone of the main facility in 1950 and first product left its gates only four years later. The production focus at this time have been excavators, rotary excavators and various armored transport vehicles for the military. One of the products that deserves a special mention is the UN 053 wheel loader, which has been produced from 1974-1995. More than 30.000 sold pieces makes this a unique case in the construction machines.

UN 053 wheel loader produced by Podpolianske strojárne

Following the regime change at the end of 1989, the company has faced tough times due to loss of export markets and problems with production conversion.  This period culminated in 2003 when the company came under new owners under the current name PPS Group a.s. In addition to the name change also the production focus has been changed. The company has gone from producing complete construction machines/vehicles to production of large welded steel components, which are supplied to world leading producers of agricultural, industrial and mining machinery like Volvo, Liebherr, Caterpillar, Atlas Copco, Sennebogen and others.

This shift in production and partnership with world renowned brands have brought the need for increased productivity and quality. And so, years 2003, 2004 and 2005 have been marked by substantial investments into people and technology. One of the investments at the time has been a PLS 12001.25PrP followed two years later by MG 12001.25 PrP +1.25PB. Both these plasma cutting machines were produced by MicroStep and very advanced for their time, featuring even second generation of rotary beveling heads developed by MicroStep. The machines have been working hard and well but, as it often happens, “the world has moved on” and new investments had to be made.

The biggest limitation of the old machines and the plasma technology itself was the effective cutting thickness. The machines were capable to cut only 45 mm thick steel while straight cutting and 25 mm while bevel cutting. This may be enough for most factories, however, when producing components for large industrial machinery much thicker material is often needed. PPS Group a.s. was purchasing these parts from job shop subcontractors in the area, however, high prices, low quality and constant delays have prompted the company to consider purchase of new CNC cutter that would allow them to produce them in house.

“We are one of the biggest consumers of abrasion resistant and high strength materials between 6 and 130 mm and process about 20,000 tons of steel per year.”
says Michal Sýkora, CEO of PPS Group

The CombiCut CNC cutting machine from MicroStep has become the solution for the growing production requirements.

Another important aspect is the bevel cutting. Parts that have been cut by traditional straight cutting systems and are supposed to be welded afterwards require additional machining using for example angle grinders, which is a very energy and time demanding job. Bevel cutting of thick materials has always been either very hard. It could be done using an oxyfuel triple torch support, however, this system has very limited range of applications and creation of complex is contours is not viable. That is why, few years ago, MicroStep started development of a brand you oxyfuel rotary head for exactly such applications.   

“Machine capable of beveling from both sides is going to save us a lot of time because up to till now we had to make bevels either by machining or manually which is very demanding both on time and the workforce.” says Peter Štupák, production manager at PPS Group.

After long negotiations, the final decision was made to purchase s CombiCut series machine equipped with four straight cutting torches and an oxyfuel rotator with a working area 15 x 5,5 meters large. The four straight oxyfuel cutting heads are capable of parallel cutting mild steel up to 200 mm thick and the rotator can effectively cut complex contour bevels in steel up to 100 mm thick. This more than covers the requirements of the production and removes the dependence on 3rd party contractors.

“Automated calibration system drastically reduces time needed to set the machine from 3 hours to approximately 5 minutes” says Ladislav Cérovský, PR manager at PPS Detva.

Another great improvement in comparison to the old machines is the patented automatic calibration of tool geometry (ACTG®). This system is designed to eliminate mechanical inaccuracies in the setting of the cutting head a thereby increases accuracy of the bevel cutting done by the rotary heads. This device has another substantial advantage, that being, automatic calibration of the tool is drastically faster than the manual setting.

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