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Kocurek Excavators is using a Chick One-Lok system from 1st Machine Tool Accessories (1st MTA) in the production of custom-engineered excavator products.

Kocurek makes long-reach arms and multi-purpose units that extend the versatility of standard hydraulic diggers.

Its equipment is suitable for use in industries as diverse as mining, rail, marine, materials handling, mineral extraction, demolition, shaft sinking and tunnelling.

The company also offers a range of additional fitments to enhance the safety and operation of its modified excavators, including a variety of cab options, seats, additional counterweights, auxiliary fuel tanks and modified vehicle undercarriages.

With customised excavators costing several hundred thousand pounds and civil engineering projects invariably run against short deadlines, the pressure is always on to maximise equipment utilisation on site.

That in turn necessitates heavy-duty components that are made available quickly and accurately, right first-time.

According to Kocurek’s machine-shop supervisor, Ben Woollard, it typically involves the machining of prismatic parts from 30 to 350mm diameter in mild steel, aluminium bronze and Weldox, a high-strength weldable steel.

’The ability to maintain consistent manufacturing quality and throughput has to be based on good workholding – used in conjunction with high-capability machine tools,’ he said.

’At the heart of our machining capabilities are six Haas CNC machines; three lathes and three vertical machining centres.

’Until recently, we employed traditional knee-mill vices to locate components during machining operations, but these proved to be less than ideal.

’In order to generate the necessary grip to hold parts securely, operators would regularly use a hammer to tighten the vices’ crank handles.

’That not only tended to deflect the units’ fixed jaws, leading to machining accuracy and repeatability issues, but the leadscrew would also become stretched, making the units difficult to use.

’Even so, components could still occasionally work loose under heavy cuts.

’What’s more, the high loads exerted on the vices have been known to simply fracture their castings,’ he continued.

Woollard added that, due to the bespoke nature of Kocurek’s work, component batches rarely exceed 15 units.

Accordingly, each operator undertakes several set-ups a day.

Using traditional vices, they would often find themselves winding the crank handle in and out to accommodate differently sized components – further compromising set-up times and throughput.

’We would typically wear out our old milling vices in around six months,’ Woollard continued.

’So when we heard about the new Chick One-Lok system from 1st MTA, we were keen to get our hands on one, just to see if it really could live up to its claimed performance.

’Our first impressions were very good.

’The unit’s modular design incorporates a precision ground solid base that not only enhances its rigidity, but also eliminates swarf traps, reducing the need for cleaning between machine cycles,’ he said.

A key factor is One-Lok’s rugged construction, which enables more than 4.5 tonnes of gripping force to be generated – along with a pull-down action – using only hand pressure on the operating handle.

’Since using One-Lok, we’ve never had a component work loose.

’This has given us the confidence to push up cutting speeds and feeds on several jobs, and trim cycle times as a result,’ Woollard added The adoption of more aggressive machining strategies can frequently lead to machining quality and repeatability issues.

However, One-Lok’s novel ’squeeze’ clamping action applies an equal and opposite internal force to the fixed jaw as the moving jaw closes, providing virtually deflection-free component clamping – even under extreme load.

The need to wind a traditional vice’s handle up to 70 revolutions to fully close its jaws is now a thing of the past, thanks to One-Lok’s Qwikslide mechanism.

This allows the moveable jaw to be easily unlocked and slid forwards or backwards to the desired position throughout the equipment’s 430mm grip range, ready for final-component clamping.

Likewise, the system’s ’Boltfast’ interchangeable jaw system enables hard or soft jaws to be replaced in less than 60 seconds, with a positional repeatability of 0.02mm.

’We’re already taking advantage of this by building a library of profiled soft jaws that complement standard machining programs on a number of common parts,’ Woollard finished.

With the aim of providing next-day service on non-stock items, customer service is central to Kocurek’s business.

Within a month of purchasing its first One-Lok system from 1st MTA, the company had ordered a second.

A third unit is also expected to be added soon, enabling each of Kocurek’s VMCs to be equipped with its own dedicated unit.

1st Machine Tool Accessories

1st Machine Tool Accessories Ltd specialises in high quality workholding equipment and associated products from the world’s leading producers.

1st Machine Tool Accessories Ltd specialises in high quality workholding equipment and associated products from the world’s leading producers.

1st MTA:

·         provides technical assistance via trained representatives including site visits and demonstrations where possible;

·         is constantly expanding and updating the product range to give customers the best possible choice;

·         offers bespoke/customised solutions;

·         provides the easiest and most efficient way to order all your machine tools and accessories by phone, fax or on-line.

The product range includes:

·         Kitagawa:

o   Chucks: power, collet, manual, speciality and all accessories.

o   Cylinders: hydraulic and pneumatic.

o   NC Rotary Tables.

o   Vises: precision machine.

·         Fixturing and Clamping Parts.

·         Collets:

o   Varibore,

o   Spring,

o   Emergency

o   Pull back.

·         Chick Workholding: the leader in modern workholding for modern CNC machines.

·         Brighetti Reduction Bushes:

o   Slotted

o   Cylindrical

o   Conical

o   Elastic

o   Fixed by dowels.

·         OK Vise: low-profile clamping.

·         Mitee Bite: versatile, cost-effective clamping – fast and easy operation.

·         Cooljet High Pressure Coolant.

·         Magnetic Filtration

·         Bison:

o   Chucks: manual and power;

o   Hydraulic/pneumatic cylinders;

o   Precision machine and bench vises;

o   Rotary tables and indexing fixtures

·         Abbott Workholding:

o   Pie jaws;

o   Tooling columns.

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