plan of the CHIRON Group service team was for one application technician and
two service technicians to fly out to the Vietnamese city of Đà Nẵng at the
beginning of July, to check into a hotel or apartment for eight weeks and stay
within a few minutes' travel of Universal Alloy Corporation Vietnam Co., Ltd
situated at the High-tech Park just outside of the city. They would then work
together with the customer step by step to commission the new machines – four
MILL 4500 and two MILL 8000 machining centers.
A good plan
and, in fact, the only possible approach.
three employees from the CHIRON Group service team could already see themselves
at the famous Bac my An beach after their day's work, dipping their feet in the
sea and taking a quick selfie for their friends and family back home? And maybe
even going on a Sunday excursion to the ancient imperial city of Huế?
COVID-19 thwarted all these plans, as travel to Vietnam was not permitted for
an indefinite period of time. A further obstacle to commissioning the machining
centers on time was the fact that HTC, now the service partner for Vietnam, had
not yet been included into the CHIRON Group network since the contract had not
yet been signed. While
the service managers at HTC had
already successfully commissioned a number of machines, none of them had been
the machines delivered on 1st July 2020 were to start manufacturing workpieces
in large quantities for a renowned aircraft manufacturer as soon as possible.
What was to
be done? Delaying the commissioning of the machines was not an option. Even if
no one wanted to admit it to begin with, there was only one solution. HTC had
to "dive in at the deep end" and
commission the machining centers in Đà Nẵng with, at least initially, constant
remote support from Samuel Baur of the CHIRON Training team. Baur had no idea
how this would work, since all new service partners usually have to undergo an
extended period of training before their first assignment for CHIRON. The MILL
experts were equally perplexed. But Jörg Schmidt, CAD/CAM manager at UACV and
project manager gave the idea the green light. And so the cooperation between
Germany and Vietnam began on 1st July 2020, starting with weekly web
conferences with the participation of multiple CHIRON experts from the sales,
service, application and training departments. For HTC, sales manager Kevin
Hinh took on the role of project manager.
9 a.m. in
Asia/Ho Chi Minh City time. 4 a.m. CET (Central European Time).
Samuel Baur, who was working from home at the time due to coronavirus
restrictions, there was at least one silver lining to such an early start – he
did not need to travel to the CHIRON premises during the night, it was just a
short walk over to the living room where he would open up his laptop, a cup of
coffee in hand, wearing his headset. The only thing left was to say "Chào buổi sáng" ("good morning" in Vietnamese) to
the six HTC service personnel, who were already in the large hall at UACV,
ready for a fast-track lesson in the steps required to correctly commission a
CHIRON machining center. The
team was assisted by future operators at UACV, who could also learn a few
things about the new machining centers in the process.
So that no
time was wasted, UACV project manager Jörg Schmidt ensured that the company was
optimally prepared. This included making sure that the machines were in the
right place and that preparations were made for anchoring the machining
centers. After a few small teething problems, a stable Internet connection was
established and Samuel Baur could explain, correct and optimize every action by
video conference or phone. To begin with, this was not the easiest of
undertakings since the English language skills of the Vietnamese service
technicians and even the interpreter were limited with respect to clearly
communicating complex specialist topics. However, over the course of the
project, HTC quickly built up its own expertise and staff gained thorough
practice in the English technical terms.
service team led by Kevin Hinh were
quick learners, requiring less and less time and support each time to carry out
the necessary measures to successfully commission each MILL machining center,
as outlined below.
- Connecting and commissioning the attachments and additional units (control
panel, hydraulic unit, vacuum pump, air extraction system, cooling unit and
- Aligning and leveling the machine
- Measuring and evaluating the machine geometry
- Adjusting the tool changer
- Measuring and adjusting the five-axis kinematics
We did it!
The first MILL 4500 is
installed and the HTC service team is rightly pleased.
The first CHIRON
MILL 4500 machining center was accepted four weeks
after its delivery on 31st July 2020 and the final acceptance date for a
machine was 25th September 2020. In the meantime, all of the machines have now
been commissioned. The MILL 4500 machining centers manufacture nose beams for
the nose section of aircraft, with each system producing six units per month.
Over the same time period, the two MILL 8000 machining centers each produce 60
component families for stringers, which are installed in the fuselage section
of aircraft. During the initial phase of the project, a three-day online
operator training course was held for six employees. The trainer taught the
course from Tuttlingen, Germany, and an HTC employee interpreted.
Each time a
machine was accepted, Samuel Baur needed to give less and less real-time
support, instead coordinating the upcoming work and checking the measurement
results and setting dimensions. He is now working regular hours again and,
needless to say, still acts as a contact for HTC for any questions about
troubleshooting and quality assurance. And, after three months, he has his
living room all to himself again!
From delivery to successful commissioning