Stihl Inc. of Virginia Beach, VA, U.S. produces
a broad line of chain saws for professional, commercial, farm, and consumer
use. The company also
manufactures other outdoor power equipment such as gas and electric
grass/weed trimmers, hedge trimmers, edgers, pole pruners, brush cutters,
sprayers, earth augers, and driveway sweepers.
SIMATIC PLCs are said to provide immediate status information
to operators in a fast, accessible mode, on an automated
test cell line for outdoor power equipment at Stihl.
Six SIMODRIVE 611 drive packages and a Win CC data
collection system are also onboard this cell.
Part of Germany-based
Stihl Group, Stihl Inc. employs more than 1,300 workers at its Virginia
Beach manufacturing plant, the largest producer within
the Stihl Group. At the heart of the 700,000-sq-ft manufacturing facility
are multiple semi-automatic assembly lines, where dozens of metal-cutting
machine tools of various types produce the component parts for the equipment.
The materials used for production of mechanical metal parts include 4140
stainless steel hardened to 40 RC, 4180 stainless, and high-silicon-based
The machine tool department at Stihl features top-line milling,
drilling, reaming, boring, and finishing machines from world-class builders,
well as proprietary Stihl piston machines and large multi-function rotary
machines. In these latter machines, a forging enters one chamber and
literally exits another as a finished part, needing only secondary finishing
heat treatment operations before assembly.
In its machining operations,
Stihl produces its own crankshafts and pistons. In addition, various
engine parts are manufactured and/or assembled at
Stihl also operates complete design loading automation
cells. From the rotary transfer machine, a finished soft machined part
is produced, with
a total of 10 separate machining operations performed on the workpiece,
including roughing turn, semi-finish turn, finish turn, facing, grooving,
center drilling, through drilling, thread rolling, reaming, and deburring.
multi-function machining centers at Stihl include the Gildemeister Twin
42, Emag VSC250, Pittler Petra SL, and others for hard boring and
facing operations. The company also operates Weiler C30 and E35 controlled-cycle
lathes, where CNC technology is utilized to monitor cutting operations,
even in short-run or one-off batches.
Controlling its machines are various
CNCs and PLCs from Siemens Machine Tool Business (Elk Grove Village,
IL, U.S.). Stihl has been using Siemens
PLCs since 1985 and the CNCs since 1986 and plans to continue using the
products well into the future. “Any new machinery that Stihl purchases
or that we build in-house has a Siemens PLC,” Paul Bruggeman, Stihl’s
director of Manufacturing, tells APPLIANCE.
Inc., a manufacturer of chain saws and other outdoor
power equipment, uses Siemens PLCs and CNCs to
control its production operations.
The controllers range from
the SINUMERIK 840D, a complete onboard controller of all machine motions,
to SIMATIC S7 and S5 PLCs, which include hybrid
HMI modules for basic information monitoring and data exchange on assembly
and machining center. “Siemens S7 PLCs are the standard for the
worldwide Stihl organization,” notes Mr. Bruggeman. “Historical
performance of the product and good service are key reasons we standardized
Features of the Siemens product family include the
user-friendly, easy-to-learn nature of the onboard controls—both
CNC and PLC—as well as
the built-in modem on the machines with SINUMERIK 840D CNCs for access
to immediate tech support. “The use of all of these products has
minimized maintenance and down time,” Mr. Bruggeman says. “The
units are easy to install and operate in a ‘user-friendly’ manner
and, therefore, are easy to implement.”