On August 10, 2014 SHTOK. celebrated its 10th anniversary. For the past years the company has made a long way from being unknown to anyone to becoming one of leaders in the industry. The SHTOK. trade mark became not only recognizable but also preferred among professional electrical installers.
A three-year warranty of our tool is not just a sales pitch, but an objective reality based on a developed technology, use of high-quality materials, most advanced equipment and work of qualified specialists.
What do we understand about the word “technology”? Technology, in the narrow sense, is a set of organizational measures, operations and ways directed to making a product of nominal quality and economic cost, and determined by the current level of science, engineering and society development as a whole.
The main point of this definition is that the quality of a product made by using of certain methods of manufacturing must be stable. It can be stably high, stably medium or stably low. But the most important thing is taking the same materials and putting them on all stages of processing to get a product of the same expected quality in the end. Individual improvement, adjustment of a final product is reflected and in the quality, and in the price of the product.
Technological effectiveness is closely connected with a type of manufacturing. According to the size of a manufacturing program, sort of a product and also technical and economical conditions of complementing of a manufacturing process, all diverse production operations can be roughly divided into three main types: custom production, serial production and mass production. Manufacturing and technological processes of each of these types have their own special features and their own definite form of work organization.
Due to stereotypes of our perception the Chinese production is determined as mass production with a very low quality. It is partially true, but not always. Let’s try to clarify this.
It’s not a secret that many factories in China have achieved the highest level of manufacturing: the quality of products is close or, in many cases, similar to the European quality.
Factories that have already been making the bulk of the assortment of SHTOK. for eleven years are exactly factories of the highest level of manufacturing. A long time ago they have got over “infantile diseases of growth” connected with shortage of custom and small-batch serial production and are deservedly considered to be leaders in the hydraulic equipment and cable cutting tools industry. In terms of this article we would like to examine production sites and used technologies in details. Because of essential differences of made products there are some specific features in each of the spheres. That's why we will talk about each type of production separately.
PRODUCTION OF HYDRAULIC EQUIPMENT OF SHTOK.
The production facility of making hydraulic equipment of SHTOK. chosen in China is an acknowledged leader in its segment.
Production of hydraulic tools is a multiple stage process of high precision. There are so many holes and grooves in the cylinder of a hydraulic tool, and the quality and durability of the tool depends on their precision.
Here we cannot avoid the definition of a technological base.
A technological base is a surface, set of surfaces, axis or point belonging to a template and used for determination of its location in the production process. Basing in mechanical processing is locating of a template (with the help of a set of bases) for its processing. The route of operations of a technological process, to a significant extent, is predetermined by the selection and purpose of technological bases sets.
The higher the number of replacement of a workpiece from one machine to another machine, the higher its imprecision which is connected with the determination of this very point or surface determining its location. In other words the higher the number of machines processing a workpiece in a technological chain, the worse workpiece we get.
In order to get the maximum number of operations fulfilled by one machine where a workpiece is set up only one time some manufacturers use multiaxis machining centres. These multi-tasking centres are used for high speed processing of a workpiece, fulfill operations of drilling, straight, outline and sculpture milling, boring, screw cutting, screw milling together with drilling by a combined tool. That's exactly why the majority of machinery of factories manufacturing products of SHTOK. are Japanese five-axis processing centres MAZAK INTEGREX 200-IVS with 48 and 128-tool magazines, these machines are capable to fulfill practically the entire cycle of mechanical processing of the head of a hydraulic crimping tool in a single setup. The precision of surface processing of MAZAK INTEGREX 200-IVS is 5 micron or 0,005mm of 6-degree precision.
It is necessary to emphasize that other hydraulic tools factories in China do not use machines of such a high level at all.
Operating of the machine is complemented with the help of programs. First, this provides 100% of repeating accuracy of workpieces at the highest level of precision; second, during the processing of a workpiece the “human factor” and relevant errors and defects are absolutely excluded.
It’s obvious that it is quite a capital-intensive installation, and in order to fully operate it with all its unique possibilities a factory needs a highly qualified operator with all necessary skills. In other words it’s a completely different level of automation, control and quality in comparison with small-batch serial production where factories use unskilled season workers for implementing repeatable operations – and of course China has such workers.
The next important thing we should pay attention to is the structure of metal used to make a workpiece. If the structure of metal a workpiece is made of is bad, stability of geometric dimensions is useless. Such a workpiece can have cavities, defects caused by unequal spreading of alloying additions and so on.
That is why all metal coming to the factory is made by the best Chinese steel-smelting enterprises where equity of chemical makeup and physical characteristics are strictly controlled.
There are two ways of making a primary part of a hydraulic head: casting and swaging. It’s cheaper to make a casting head. But it’s necessary to remember that casting workpieces have so many defects caused by unequal casting, residual elements, internal stress. As a result, a casting detail is not that strong in comparison with a swaging one. The low precision of casting has a bad impact on the further mechanical processing. That is why during production of hydraulic tools of SHTOK. we chose the technology of consecutive swaging on four-die forging devices. Of course, it increases the cost of a product, but we believe that this decision is absolutely justified – the quality of the product is incomparably increased.
After the cycle of mechanical processing we start the cycle of heat treatment which is necessary for additional hardening and internal stress relieving. Here the main parameters are heating temperature which is individual for every kind of steel and the exact time of this temperature. As during mechanical processing, at our manufacturing sites the process of temperature and holding time control are fully automatized, and the human factor is fully excluded from the process.
Mass production assemblies differ from custom production assemblies. On one side, manufacturing tolerance of details during mass production is consciously increased for easy assembly process, on the other hand, if the process is properly worked out the precise adjustment and individual fitting of every section are not necessary.
Assembled tools are selectively sent to a factory laboratory where we implement durability testing and testing of working capacity under different conditions simulated in the laboratory. In the laboratory we also work out the application life of different engineer ideas implemented in the engineering department of the factory.
Improvement of distribution cabinet assembling and production output increasing make installers use not a mechanical tool and hydraulic drive tool for cable cutting, terminal crimping and hole making, but start to use more productive electrohydraulic accumulators. In the beginning such tools were supplied to the Russian market only from Japanese, German and American manufacturers. Since 2012 we proudly present electrohydraulic tools of SHTOK. in the Russian market together with key manufacturers of these modern high-tech devices.
It is necessary to mention that after developing our own engineering department, expanding qualified engineer and designer staff, increasing opportunities of equipment stock we create our own idea products more and more. Besides, we have adjusted the system of receiving constant feedback from clients who use tools under real-life conditions, first of all in Russia – and according to these summarized wishes and requirements we improve the construction of a tool.
People traditionally think that the higher the mass scale production index, the wider the selection of output items. In the presence of mass scale production the peculiar feature of our manufacturing is exactly the maximally wide tool selection meeting almost all requirements of hydraulic tools for all kinds of terminal crimping operations.
SHTOK. ratchet cutter production
Many features of this production site are identical with features described in the previous article: mass scale production together high precision, detail processing on CNC machines, quality control, heat treatment and so on. But unlike hydraulic equipment where main units and devices are rotary bodies and are processed on turning workstations, the main units of ratchet cutters are flat bodies and their turning machining is minimal, however some other aspects are critically important.
So, for example, the bulk load, during cable cutting, is on the cutting blade. The contact area of the cutting blade in the cut place is much bigger than the contact area during crimping. That is exactly why we pay special attention to the quality of the blades on all steps of manufacturing.
Steel used in blade production of the cutters is alloyed according to a special formula in limited batches. This helps to keep the constancy of chemistry in every batch, to delete impurities and make rational alloyments.
While other ratchet tool manufacturers cut their blades from sheet metal, SHTOK. blades are made via swaging. Rolled steel is much softer than swaged steel. Moreover, it is very difficult to control chemistry constancy of rolled steel. It is impossible to output high-quality rolled metal in limited batches which can be used in production of key elements.
On one hand, swaging helps to increased the hardness of blades, on the other hand, swaging dies maximally bring workpieces to final pieces, reducing the time of mechanical processing and minimizing production scraps.
For the last 6 years the factory made a big quality leap in manufacture re-equipment and replacement of classical milling machines processing blades with the help of dies which can worn out, to the most advanced milling multi-tool multi-axis CNC machines of rectangular control principle.
This, like in hydraulic equipment production, helps to maximally exclude the human factor from manufacturing process and make blade shapes constant in time. In other words, blades made in March 2013 can, of course, be used with cutters assembled in February 2014. It is very helpful in warranty and post-warranty maintenance.
Quenching on this line can be made in nitrogen blanket, the next step is automatic tempering, and an operator only needs to put workpieces onto the conveyer and take them from the conveyer again. As a result of heat treatment on this equipment we get really impressive results – the hardness fluctuation of 10 000 pieces is only ±1 HRC. Besides, heat treatment in nitrogen blanket gives additional strength to the surface layer of the metal. Deformation of thin workpieces during heating and cooling is also minimized, this helps to keep the geometrical constancy of elements. An equipment of this level is used on state owned enterprises of Chine and very limitedly. In the countries manufacturers implement heat treatment of bearings on such lines. For ratchet cutter production in China only we use this high-quality equipment.
Our own engineers constantly develop new ideas in improving blade and handle shapes. This engineering research is made to maximally harden the cutting edge and to keep viscosity of the serrated part at that. Other manufacturers say that a complicated shape of the cutting blade does not allow to make local quenching of required quality level. They say, moreover it is impossible to do this under mass production conditions.
As a result the cutting blades can serve under heavy-load conditions during 5 years, this puts our cutter production on the same technology level of key European manufacturers.
Du to all above mentioned technological advantages SHTOK. tools can be used by a wide range of professional electrical installers who are convinced in the reliability and working capacity of our tools every day.
The quality of SHTOK. tools are confirmed by international certificates. Since 2004 we develop, test, produce and control the quality of our tools according to ISO-9001. Because this exact standard refers to a systematic adjustment of the manufacturing process, but not only to the final product quality control.
We also dynamically improve and expand functions of already being sold products. And we highly appreciate the opinion of those people who use our tools every day. If you have any ideas of improving our tools or expanding their functionality, please contact us. After ideas offered by you are added to the construction of a tool, you can get an author’s copy of the tool for free.