Sandvik Powder & Blanks Technology

Optimising efficiency

As part of Sandvik Group, Sandvik Powder & Blanks Technology is anticipated to continue achieve more growth following major infrastructural changes and investment

A high-tech global engineering group, Sweden headquartered SandvikGroup conducts its operations in three business areas, with responsibility for R&D, production and sales of its respective products and services. These segments include Sandvik Machining Solutions, a market-leading manufacturer of tools and tooling systems for advanced industrial metal cuttings; Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, which is a leading supplier in equipment and tools, service and technical solutions for the mining and construction industries, and Sandvik Materials Technology, which is the world-leading manufacturer of advanced stainless steels and special alloys for the most demanding industries.

This decision to split the business into three areas was made in 2015, with the new structure becoming effective in July 2016. By consolidating operations, Sandvik Group achieves total ownership and accountability for each respective business and will be able to improve the longterm efficiency in Sandvik Group. In line with these goals, the group appointed Klas Forsstrom as the new President for Sandvik Machining Solutions, which is comprised of Sandvik Coromant, Seco Tools, Walter, Dormer Pramet and Powder & Blanks Technology, in the first quarter of 2017.

Discussing the role of Sandvik Powder & Blanks Technology within the Sandvik Group umbrella is Graham Brown, PU Director at Sandvik Machining Solutions Powder & Blanks Technology at the group’s Coventry site: “Sandvik Powder & Blank Technology is a new Product Area within Sandvik. It was formed back in July 2016 from existing businesses within the group but put under one PA banner for capacity, productivity & strategic supply benefits. We are made up of several facilities based in Austria, India and the UK, and employ approximately 600 people across these locations. Our main activities are mining of materials and recycling of secondary materials for the manufacture of tungsten carbide powder, which is completed in Austria. This is then supplied to the UK where we process the tungsten carbide and use a variety of forming methods to manufacture rotary tool blanks such as drills and mills.

“To make us as competitive as possible, the new PA is a very lean organisation with as little A&S cost as possible and we have consolidated the footprint of our manufacturing operations. At a more local level here in the UK we have changed from a functional organisation to an operational organisation. This gives greater accountability and ownership of the entire manufacturing process to the appointed Operations Managers. The operational organisation helps us to react much quicker to changes in our customer requirements and allocate the necessary resources around the business as needed.”

Providing products made of cemented carbide, Sandvik Powder & Blanks Technology enables customers to improve business performance with effective, wear-resistant tools, applications and components thanks to the unique combination of strength, hardness and toughness that cemented carbide delivers. Due of the benefits of using its products, such as their ability to stand the test of harsh elements, the company’s customers include those in the aerospace, automotive, mining and medical industries.

For those seeking tool blanks, the company manufactures a range of these high-quality products including precision ground blanks, open tolerance, coolant channel and long rods. Rotary tool blanks normally have the shape of long cylinders/rods, which is the raw material form for precision cutting tools. The company also manufactures custom-made, near-net-shape, premium insert blanks and, through advanced manufacturing technology, it is able to offer a spectrum of geometries with ground finish as an option. Within this segment, the company can supply anything from custom-made, indexable insert blanks for all applications, to blanks for custom-made rotating cutters, and tops and custom-made tips for brazed tools, to name a few examples.

With major internal infrastructural changes complete, Sandvik Powder & Blanks Technology has achieved 16 per cent growth in volume over the last nine months as it seeks to remain competitive in the market. To further boostgrowth, the company is in the process of closing its plant in China, which will not only lower its carbon footprint, but will also bring more work over to the company’s UK plant in Coventry. It will also enable the company to enhance efficiency and quality through the relocation of modern equipment and machinery.

“The decision to close down the operation in China was not taken lightly, but the volume produced in China could be consumed within the existing process in the UK without additional costs. Today we have seen an increase in orders at the same time as transferring this volume, which is why we have increased some manpower in specific areas of the plant,” says Graham. “We are investing heavily for the future within the UK and are investing in new capacity with a new sinter furnace, which will be installed during the late summer of 2017. Sandvik also takes safety seriously and there is always investment in this area too. On top of this, we are looking at next generation forming technologies to improve our efficiency and drive down the processing cost. We have also invested in handling systems to improve on reject elimination, however, there is always more work to be done in this area.”

Once these changes are complete, Sandvik Powder & Blanks Technology will have the tools to create a stronger future, both for itself and Sandvik Group. “We want to support the growth in Sandvik round tools and be the first-choice supplier of rod blanks while also being able to compete on quality, price and technology,” Graham concludes.

Sandvik Powder & Blanks Technology
Products: Powder and blank technology