Retooling is like model making – just bigger

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When machines are allowed to go back home after many years of use, they are completely overhauled beforehand. The CEO of GST Grinder GmbH, Günter Hacker, describes this retooling as: “It’s like model making, only in large format”. In this article we take a look behind the scenes of retooling using the example of a grinding machine in automobile production. GST will soon be preparing this machine.

In action 24/7

Grinding machines in the automotive industry run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This enormous load must be taken into account when designing such machines. In order for these machines to last a long time, they need regular maintenance. Nevertheless, it is usually over after 20 to 30 years, and the machine is completely rebuilt in the area of ​​quality-relevant mechanics if it wants to continue to be used. The technical term for such a conversion or rebuilding is called “refurbishment”, or if tools or other workpieces are also processed, “retooling”.

The company GST Grinder GmbH in Sierndorf near Vienna in Austria has specialized in this retooling. The company has always manufactured new machines, precisely tailored to customer requirements. But if you know exactly how the mechanics work, which loads occur where and how to make machines so stable that they can do their job for decades, then you also have the experts for a conversion, for the retooling of the machine of the hand.

By definition, retooling means the retooling of production processes. Existing machine tools are modified in such a way that they produce new workpieces and are suitable for the production of new components or new machining processes. The shell remains, the inner workings of the machine tool or grinding machine are renewed.

Retooling extends the lifespan

Hacker tells us about a grinding machine that will soon be coming to GST in Austria for retooling. It is currently still in China and has been in use there for over 10 years at a Volkswagen production facility. The machine produced drive shafts for internal combustion engines.

It is common practice at the Volkswagen Group to keep machines in production longer than just for the originally intended use. Such machines are offered for sale as used machines on an internal platform for used machine tools. Other Volkswagen production sites can access these machines and use them for their needs after retooling.

Said grinding machine, which is being converted by GST, is going back to Germany for around 60,000 euros. Starting in autumn, she will be stopping for several months in Sierndorf near Vienna. GST is converting this grinding machine for the production process of e-shafts for electric drives.