By investing in automation, Leitz looks to beat the competition


From left to right: Charles Joel and Chris Jones of Leitz Australia, alongside Andrew Ritchie of ANCA with the FX7 Linear machine installed at Leitz Australia

Leitz, one of the global leading manufacturers of tools utilised in the industrial processing of solid wood, wood derived materials, and plastic and compound materials.

In the Australian wood processing industry, there is a fierce demand for compression routers – tools with opposing cutting flutes – and also known as compound shear or up-down cutters. As the demand for this product continues to increase, Leitz Australia looks to protecting their position against their competition regarding the supply of compression routers.

An important part of Leitz Australia’s strategy was to find a suitable tool and cutter grinding machine that met their requirements.

“Leitz identified that to meet market demands, the machine had to be highly productive and satisfy the exacting tolerances set by Leitz,” Charles Joel, National Manager of Production and Service at Leitz Australia, said. “Local customer service and applications support was another important aspect.”

And after extensively reviewing several Tool and cutter grinding machines, Leitz concluded that the ANCA was the best machine on the market to meet their needs.

The FX7 Linear CNC grinding machine, configured with ANCA’s 19-inch touchscreen

In 2016, Leitz Australia installed the FX7 Linear CNC grinding machine, configuring it with the high capacity Fanuc robot loader, ANCA Motions cylindrical LinX linear motor, 19-inch touchscreen, and a handheld pendant for simplified setups.

“After three days of basic operator training, the machine was operating at full production capacity. Since the FX7 was installed it has produced almost 10,000 tools so we have been thrilled with the machine uptime. The flexible software and time savings was another important feature. Using the 3DCimulation software on our offline PC means we can verify the next tool type to be produced, while the machine is in use grinding tools,” Joel continued. “The 3DCim software can check and calculate all aspects of the tool, including dimensions, geometry, profiles, etc. which is critical when measuring items such as core diameter prior to grinding to avoid any production problems. The software saves time on tool design, reduces grinding setup time and ensures accurate tools are ground first time at the start of grinding a batch of tools, resulting in actual cost savings”.

And Leitz Australia knows well that the only way to stay ahead of the competition is to decrease costs and improve delivery times.

“One of the advantages of the FX7 is the reduction in delivery times. The machine has a robot loader for fast production of special tools in large quantities that can now be delivered within days. Furthermore, it has a capacity to manufacture up to 320 pieces for Ø8mm routers (maximum of 840 pieces for Ø3mm) and the loader has four times the capacity of the machine we previously used to produce compression routers,” Joel added. “Not all production runs need to be in large quantities. The machine can do multiple tool types of the same diameter size in the one pallet. Small batches of 5 to 10 tools of 30 different tool types could be done in the one production setup”.

ANCA’s Machine Notification Software (MNS) even has a feature to remind customers when maintenance tasks are due. This results in continual productivity and the reduction of machine downtime.

“As Australian manufacturing is moving towards Industry 4.0 and to be in line with the rest of the world we wanted the latest advances from ANCA in this area. As a first step towards this, ANCA offers a software package called Management Suite, a tool management, wheel management and production monitoring system,” Joel explained. “Our production efficiency and machine monitoring is critical to sustaining profitability and be competitive in the modern world. Management Suite is a game changer for the CNC grinding industry, enabling us to monitor operational performance of the FX7 which delivers live production data to make informed operational improvements.”

And despite the FX Linear machine’s large working envelope, it maintains a relatively small footprint. Every item of the machine, from the positioning of the grinding wheel on the C-axis centreline to reduce thermal influence, to the Fanuc robot which loads both tools and grinding wheels, have been aimed at enhancing accuracy, increasing productivity and making operator’s tasks significantly easier.

“To save energy, the FX7 comes with an idle shut off feature which can be programmed to shut the machine down completely when it is idle for a set period of time,” Joel concluded. “This allows the machine to start a tool production run on Friday and when finished over the weekend, it will automatically shut down the machine, saving in power consumption.”