Climbing the Ladder
- February 8, 2019
Custom hydraulic product manufacturer Hydra Dyne develops its own in-house solutions to everyday machining problems
Factory options for tool load monitoring leave this Ontario machine shop wanting more.
Hire a team of developers, write your own custom software, and integrate it with the shop’s machinery.
Steve Bohner owns a lot of Doosan machine tools. Mill-turn CNC lathes, multi-tasking centres, horizontal and vertical machining centres—in total, 40 of them sit on his production floor, all from Doosan. Some might call Bohner the brand’s biggest fan. And while he appreciates the equipment’s ability to remove metal, their dependability and precision, Bohner has another reason for repeatedly purchasing Doosan machinery, one that might surprise you. “Very few machine tool builders allow changes to the control’s ladder logic,” he says. “Without that, we would have been unable to develop our own tool monitoring software.”
A hydraulic force
Bohner’s built a business on hydraulic systems. He began repairing cylinders in the late 80s, and decided in 1993 he could design and build better products than what was coming across his workbench. Hydra Dyne Technology Inc. was born. Bohner bought his first CNC machine shortly afterwards (not a Doosan), then several more, but it wasn’t until he picked up a used Daewoo Puma lathe that his marriage to the South Korean machine tool builder began (if you’re not a follower of Doosan history, the company acquired Daewoo Machinery in 2005).
Today Hydra Dyne has an eclectic mix of machine tool styles and capabilities. The shop floor hosts Puma 4100 LMB 15-inch chuck, 50-hp horizontal lathes. There are NHP 5500 compact horizontal machining centres with 10,000-rpm, CAT50 spindles, as well as TT 1800 twin-turret lathes and 3100 XLY mill-turn machines with Y axis milling. And there are nine MX 2600 seven axis multi-tasking machines with machining centre-style B axis spindles, and twelve-station lower turrets. Bohner says his collection of MX-series lathes accounts for five per cent of all such machines produced to date.
“Even though it was used, and easily the oldest machine in the shop at the time, I liked that first Daewoo we bought back in the 90s,” Bohner says. “When it was time for our next machine tool, we got some initial pricing, sniffed out as much information as we could find on the builder, and started shopping. The Doosans fit our needs and they run well. We’ve been very happy with them.”
Bohner and his team of 100 employees use their Doosans to design and manufacture a wide assortment of hydraulic products. Hydra Dyne offers a complete line of semi-custom control manifolds, valve sections, and of course hydraulic cylinders for the likes of Tigercat, John Deere, etc., and is certified as part of the Canadian Controlled Goods Program (CGP). Typical job quantities range from “five of this, maybe thirty of that,” and Bohner is a strong believer in completing parts in as few operations as possible, which is the primary driver behind his owning mostly multi-tasking and mill-turn machines.
Around six years ago, Bohner sought to decrease tool breakage, which thanks to their many intersecting holes, is a very real problem when drilling hydraulic manifolds. He tried tool monitoring options, but found they were not flexible enough for his demanding applications. “The standard functions are probably fine for most shops, but I’m using the same tool for a bunch of different features, and needed the ability to modify cutting parameters for each of those features,” he says. “I couldn’t seem to find a happy medium. That, and we wanted the ability to retract the tool if there was a problem and recover from where it left off. So we scrapped it, and started developing our own software.”
He had help. Bohner invited technical representatives from control builder Fanuc and Ferro Technique, the area distributor for Doosan Machine Tools, to come onsite and work with him on ways to make his CNC equipment “self-correcting,” an attribute that he says allows him to significantly increase spindle utilization while eliminating the occasional catastrophe that comes after unexpected tool breakage.
“I needed a way to tell the machine what part feature is currently being machined, and how much load it should expect throughout that feature,” Bohner explains. “If the machines encounter higher loads or an unfavorable situation—a hole intersection, for instance—it will try to correct the problem by pulling out of the workpiece, taking additional pecks, or adjusting the feeds and speeds, depending on the circumstances. After so many attempts, the machine will stop and alert the operator that there’s a problem.”
It’s taken several sessions of Bohner bringing the programmers to the Hydra Dyne facility, sitting down with them to explain his requirements, and turning them loose. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, doing so required changes to the machine’s ladder logic, but the results have been well worth it—aside from “drastically increased green light hours,” he estimates his custom tool monitoring software saves his company a minimum of $100,000 a year in tooling costs. SMT