Numerous dimensions of manufacturing technology are converging for today’s machine shops — and the foundries that are adopting machining to make their operations more attractive to casting buyers.

Webb Wheel Products Inc. has a 100,000-sq. ft. plant in Tell City, IN, where it machines ductile and gray iron castings into brake drums and hubs for the heavy-duty trailer market.  The core of operation is a series of 16 Maus machining centers for turning, drilling, grinding and marking products.  Maus is an Italian machine builder of surface grinding systems, transfer lines and vertical turning lathes. 

Maus vertical lathes are built as single-station, dedicated operation machines, intermediate work cells, and turnkey production lines, and the builder uses Siemens controls on all the machines it builds. 

Webb Wheel produces 400 varieties of cast brake drums, in sizes from 12.25 x 6.00 in. to 18.00 x 8.00 in.; both vented and ribbed transit drums; BTS (Brake Turbine System) drums up to 16.50 x 8.62 in., for use with Lynnfin brake turbines; trailer, drive and steering axle hubs; standard and ABS rotors, plus spoke wheels of many types. 

David Link, v.p. - Manufacturing, said the process of designing the plant emphasized total control of the overall machining process.  Also, Webb Wheel uses a custom material handling system that needed to be linked to the machining center control panels, for integrated part movement.

All the Maus machining cells are controlled by Siemens Sinumerik 840D CNCs, where each is used to monitor axis movement, spindle movement, rotary table positions, transfer lines, ancillary robotics, CMM probing and laser detection orientations.  The 840D offers a range of CNC functions for milling, drilling, turning, grinding, and material handling.  Its control capabilities also include nibbling, punching, and laser-machining processes. 

Several features of Sinumerik 840D increase productivity on the manufacturing floor, especially the challenging segments of high-speed and five-axis machining. These features include the ability to assign various axes and spindles to one CNC in sequence and link to multiple inline operator panels.  Also, a Windows XP or NT operating system can be used, and the CNC can run ancillary robotics, transfer lines, even unattended, lights-out mode laser detection devices.