Ashok Sheth, Chairman, Solitaire Machine Tools Ltd.
Vadodara-based Solitaire Machine Tools Limited is a leading manufacturer of Precision Centerless Grinders, with a standing and reputation spanning nearly three decades. Solitaire focuses on designing and manufacturing centerless grinding machines of superior quality, high accuracy and superlative performance. The company is also recognized for timely delivery, installation services, training and after-sales technical support, reveals Ashok Sheth, Chairman, SMT in an interview with P.K. Balasubbramaniian. Excerpts:
We have been in Centerless Grinder business of manufacturing and remanufacturing since 1980. The association with Cincinnati Milacron and its grinders made us aware of quality requirements and need to provide solution for the customer rather than supply the grinder. Also we have consistently focused on this small niche part of the grinding sector.
The later association with Bocca & Malandrone, Sunebo of Italy for the past 10 years has brought their advanced features like Hydrostatic Slides, Double supported spindles and Vibration free concrete base. These are slowly being recognized by manufacturers of precision components.
We are not Pioneer of this technology, but we brought features, which were not being offered in India. We offered grinders to customers, who were importing new grinders from USA, Europe and Japan. They found that indigenous grinder was of same quality and durability. Over the years, we kept on evolving design and features to improve productivity and quality for customers.
We can grind components from 1mm diameter to 200 mm diameter. We have supplied grinders to grind small drill bit of 1 mm weighing about 5 grams to rear Axle of Volvo truck weighing 250 kg. We are working on a new grinder to grind parts as small as 0.2 mm diameter.We are launching Centerless Grinder with 5 Axis CNC and with Twin Grip supported wheel width of 300 mm, especially to meet requirement of shock absorber industry and manufacturers of precision shafts and small crank shafts. It will be dispayed at IMTEX 2019.
We would say that our customers substantiate this statement. We have ground parts with roundness below 1 micron, surface finish below 0.03 Ra, and cylindricity below 2 microns. We have ground small pins at the rate of 30 pins / second, Steel bars at 6 meters / minute feed rate for example while still meeting their stringent standards.
We have manufactured and remanufactured over 1000 grinders in India in the last 30 years. Our US associate plant in Chicago has supplied close to 1400 grinders since 1980.
Our major customers are automotive component manufacturers. Most of our customers in thisfield are MNC plants in India. Many of vehicle manufacturers have recognized Solitaire as reliable source of Centerless Grinders and have been advising their vendors to use our grinders. Other customer base in Engineering industry for Precision components like Hydraulic spools, Crank shafts, Ceramic Parts, Graphite and Aluminium components etc.
We have complete manufacturing facilities comprising Horizontal Machining Centers, Vertical Machining Centers, Horizontal Boring Mills, Slideway Grinders, Cylindrical grinder, Surface grinders, Super finishing machine and all other allied equipment. We also have quality control facilities to inspect ground components with Cylindricity tester, Roundness tester, Surface finish tester, Profile Projector and all other related inspection equipment. We also have 150 vendors to manufacture components as per our drawings.
We have exported 25 to 40 % of our sales every year for past six years. We have received EEPC Star Performer award for past 5 years in a row.
Software for efficient working and ease of operation is an evolutionary process. Each grinder is customized with software to meet customer’s requirement. Also all safety interlocks are provided to ensure safety at all times. We are servicing grinders supplied in South America through internet.
We do Remanufacturing and CNC retrofitting in addition to automation for Cincinnati Centerless Grinders of any model or any age. We have remanufactured Cincinnati grinder as old as 1939 (close to 78 years old) and brought it back to grinding parts meeting customer’s requirement. The cost compared to new machine could be around 50 % to 60% and customer can still use the asset which is owned by them.
We try and train customer’s maintenance personnel in ways to look after the grinder and do the work themselves as far as possible. This saves time as well as cost for them. All required spares are offered with quick delivery. The training to customer’s staff is free at our plant. Also during commissioning, training is given for operation and maintenance. In case required, our factory trained personnel visits and takes care of servicing.
We delight our customers by providing them economic solutions to their grinding process. We provide them various options and the advantages to make educated decision on their procurement of the grinder. All features and options are discussed in details before placement of order.
We like to work on improving quality and productivity for components being produced on our grinders. For example, we grind a small set of components at 10 metres/ minute and now we are targeting to improve the same and try to reach 15 meters/ minute. In the past, one of our customers was grinding a component in one second and with joint efforts, they were able to bring it to 0.8 seconds per part. That is 20 % increase in productivity. Our focus will be on such accomplishments.
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