Fully automated production of individual parts

C 42 U HS flex | Horstmann | Commissioned production - special purpose machinery

Speed and quality are the self-declared goals that the mechanical engineering firm Horstmann wants to achieve with the help of Hermle's new 5-axis machining centre. The HS flex automation solution plays a key role in this process.

Founded in 1979, Horstmann Maschinenbau GmbH today has four main business areas: commissioned production, special purpose machinery, storage/transport systems and packaging technology. The firm only entered the packaging industry a few years ago with the development of the Boxmaker. The basic idea: instead of stockpiling packaging boxes, the box cutting machine produces custom packaging just in time.


  • Mitarbeiter bedient die C 42 U mit Handlingsystem HS flex von Hermle
    The control comes from Heidenhain (type TNC 640) and is fully digital thanks to the HSCI interface and the EnDat interface.

The path to automation 

Horstmann produces individual parts for the Boxmaker in-house: initially on 3 and 4-axis machines without automation. To optimise the processes, Klaus Horstmann, Managing Director of  Horstmann Maschinenbau GmbH, first introduced the zero-point clamping system. By subsequently relocating programming from the machine to the office, the entrepreneur prepared his employees for automation. This step was completed by Horstmann at the end of March 2018: after thorough analysis and research, he ordered the 5-axis machining centre C 42 U with HS flex handling system from Maschinenfabrik Berthold Hermle AG. The clamping surface of the 450 kilogram bearing swivelling rotary table measures 440 mm in diameter. The worm drive, which reliably prevents shaft torsion at the table, also meets the high precision requirements. The traverse path is 800 mm in both X and Y direction and a maximum of 550 mm in Z direction. Thanks to an additional magazine, the C 42 U can access up to 192 tools for machining. When explaining the investment, Horstmann says: "The overall package – machine, handling, tools, service and support – was decisive for us."

In addition, the application options also proved convincing:  "We need the option of being able to interrupt demand-based production for the Boxmaker in order to complete more urgent commissioned production orders from our customers," explains the Managing Director.

Bauteil welches mit der C 42 U von Hermle gefertigt wurde
Horstmann uses the C 42 U among other things for the demand-based production of components for its special purpose machinery.

Reliable overall concept

In addition to flexibility, process reliability plays a major role for the mechanical engineering firm, which tries to avoid errors through standardisation, simulation and control measurements. The C 42 U checks tool lengths and the workpiece position automatically prior to machining. "If something is wrong, the pallet is blocked and exchanged for another job," explains Production Manager Christian Wensing. "Additional measurement cycles may take time, but they guarantee safety and precision. And this is extremely important to us," Horstmann emphasises.
Even though the subject of automation is a relatively new one at Horstmann, Wensing knows how to make extensive use of the possibilities Hermle provides for the C 42 U. "We receive the production times, fully automated, straight from the machine into the ERP system. This allows us to utilise the machine perfectly." The optional control tool HIMS (Hermle "Information Monitoring System") displays the live status of the machine and sends events via e-mail. Just a few months after commissioning, the machining centre is already operating at up to 90 percent capacity for 16 hours a day. This success can also be attributed to the support provided by Hermle. "The service is a convincing unique selling point," Klaus Horstmann says in praise of the cooperation. "And we've been able to bring many of our visions to life through this project."

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