The never-ending 24/7 demand for reliable water supplies was a contributor to the choice of a new Harrison Alpha lathe for the workshops of Goldenfields Water County Council in Temora, about 400km south of Sydney in the heart of the NSW grain-growing area.

Goldenfields recently moved into its new purpose-built workshop, where it has installed a mixture of existing and newly acquired equipment needed to build and maintain a huge network of reservoirs and pipelines that deliver water to customers throughout the region. Goldenfields Mechanical Co-ordinator Shane Baldry identified the need for a combination manual/CNC lathe. He worked together with the management team at Temora, along with engineers from 600 Machine Tools, to identify the right machine configuration to deal with the current and projected workload of the workshop.

“We had several long-serving machines in our former workshop,” said Baldry. “And the construction of a new purpose-built facility was an appropriate time to evaluate what we were going to need in the future.”

In addition to Baldry, there are three fitters and three apprentices, all needing to use a lathe at various times. This makes flexibility absolutely essential, and the new machine needed to switch quickly from being a centre-lathe to full CNC.

“After studying the options, it was decided that the Harrison Alpha 1550XS would meet our requirements,” said Baldry.

The globally-successful Alpha 1550XS has a swing-over bed of 554mm, a 15kW motor, spindle speeds up to 2,000rpm, and a spindle bore of 104mm. The spindle nose is a D1-11 Camlock. The precision-engineered CNC combination lathe range is designed for fast, high-quality repeatability, accuracy and surface finish to exacting toolroom accuracy standards (DIN 8605).

Steve Drummond, Sydney-based Sales Manager at 600 Machine Tools, said: “The machine we have configured and supplied is a big lathe, with three metres between centres. However, despite the generous machining capacity and size of the Alpha, the latest Fanuc OiTD control ensures that operators can approach this machine with confidence, due to its ease of use and simplicity of operation.”

With regard to manual operation, he added: “Even if you haven’t used a lathe since your schooldays, you could walk up to an Alpha XS now and start cutting metal.”

Heavyweight performance

A member of the UK-based 600 Group, one of the biggest lathe manufacturers in Europe, 600 Machine Tools offers the full range of Alpha models from Harrison, along with the award-winning range from Colchester. The all-new Harrison Alpha XC combination CNC lathe, the breakthrough machine that caused such a stir at the MACH 2016, is now available in Australia. Making its debut at the NEC in Birmingham, this range now incorporates driven tooling and full c-axis interpolation. This feature, a significant addition to the simple-to-operate CNC lathe, now allows operators to carry out secondary operations at the machine in one set-up.

“The new XC can conduct off-centre drilling and boring, hexagonal milling, and much more,” said Cliff Purser, Asia-Pacific Managing Director of 600 Machine Tools. “What this remarkable combination CNC lathe gives workshops in Australia is the ability to perform secondary operations that usually require machining centres or expensive slant bed CNC turning centres.

He added: “The turret has eight stations, and all positions can be driven at up to 5,000rpm on some models. The VDI tooling set-up is based on the size of the machine and has either a 20 or 40 VDI configuration.”

Adding the c-axis, milling and drilling to the Harrison Alpha range dramatically reduces the need for secondary operations. It genuinely increases productivity and slashes cost-per-component – especially on prototypes, one-offs, and small batches. The control unit on the machine is the renowned Fanuc 0iTD system.

Purser explained: “As engineers will recognise, Harrison has its own Alpha programming system that is unique, and acclaimed by users worldwide.  This is in addition to the Fanuc Manual Guide system that is fully conversational for the end-user, using pictorial guides along with the full G-Code CNC system – not forgetting manual operation – giving Alpha operators unrivalled programming options.

“Simply put, the new Harrison Alpha XC is the simplest CNC lathe to operate in the world.”

The company also offers a larger capacity model – the Alpha 1550 XC – now available with a swing-over bed up to 550mm and centre distances up to 3,000mm. This powerful CNC lathe can be configured for milling, too, thereby eliminating any need to lift large and heavy workpieces to other machines for secondary operations.

This is true of other machines in the Alpha range, which includes the 1660XS and 1760XS with beds of up to 4m, and the massive 2800XS with beds of up to 6m. The 1660XS is fitted with a high powered 18.5 kW motor, swing over bed of 660mm, and 105mm spindle bores, bringing true heavyweight turning performance to Alpha users.

These big machines have a one-direction indexing c-axis with a 0.1-degree of accuracy. They manage with ease such commonplace secondary operations as drilling holes in the flange of a 6m-long workpiece, such as a prop-shaft.

Purser said: “Now that the XC models in the Alpha range come with full c-axis, as found on many slant-bed CNC machines, workshops throughout Australia can increase throughput and achieve significantly higher productivity, while maintaining high levels of accuracy and repeatability.

“Research shows that there are very few flatbed machines in the marketplace with a fully functioning c-axis, and the new capability of the XC range comes at a keen price that really does represent excellent value for money.”