Machines from Racibórz are created in pursuit of new machining technologies. This type of strategy brings success to the company.
“Above all, we focus on innovation. We solve technical tasks that cannot be carried out using standard machines. We produce machines tailored to the specific needs of our customers. Our philosophy is not to deliver a machine but to solve a problem,” says Sławomir Sywak, the president of Design Technologies International DTI sp. z o.o. As a result, the manufacturer from Racibórz creates original machines to address specific technical challenges faced by customers.
85,000 engineering hours
Design Technologies International is a well-known manufacturer of specialized machines on the market. The company specializes in designing and producing modern numerically controlled machines, primarily used in the energy, aviation, defense, and railway industries.
This defines the fundamental principle of their strategy: “The development of various industrial sectors forces manufacturers to use increasingly newer materials. At the same time, companies aim to increase efficiency and reduce production costs. To tackle such challenges, new machining technologies are necessary. This is precisely the task for DTI.”
The company is primarily known in the market for machines that require heavy machining of parts made from hard materials. Design Technologies International can produce no more than two such machines per year. Additionally, the company constructs several lighter machines. However, the number of contracts executed each year largely depends on the level of innovation in a particular project and, consequently, on the degree of involvement of the company’s design office in the project.
Due to the individual nature of the technical solutions they create, the work of the company’s design office is of paramount importance. The design office is located in two places: in Racibórz, at the company’s headquarters, and in Pruszków. Currently, the design office employs 11 mechanical engineers and 5 electrical/electronic engineers on a permanent basis. “In addition, there is a group of regular collaborators who support DTI on larger projects. However, this group of 16 engineers with an average age below 40 constitutes the core of the company,” says Sławomir Sywak, adding, “We value all projects, but undoubtedly, the greater the intellectual challenge, the more interesting it is. We have a great team of engineers with world-class skills, extensive experience, and a fresh, innovative perspective. In this regard, the initial phase of the project is the most exciting, a brainstorming session leading to the final concept.”
This is crucial, especially considering that for DTI, every machining tool they build is unique. Among the machines they have produced so far, the largest horizontal lathes had a distance between the jaws of 22 meters, and the weight of the workpiece reached up to 100 tons. On the other hand, the company has also created broaching machines in which the smallest shafts are a meter long and weigh several hundred kilograms. Given the specific nature of their business, it can be said that for DTI, technology is constantly evolving, and every contract represents a new technological solution, argues the president.
The biggest technical challenge in the company’s history was the design and construction of a lathe for machining drive shafts for aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines. The U.S. Navy was the recipient of these machines. We devoted 85,000 engineering hours to this project.
The lathe made in Racibórz is currently operating in the shipyard in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. When it comes to machining precision in this class of machines, it is the best machine in the world. According to the contract requirements, spindle runout could not exceed 5 μm with a machine weight of over 400 tons. The machined shafts weighed up to 80 tons and were 22 meters long. Such precise machining of large-scale components had to be ensured with special design solutions.
The lathe had 24 numerical axes and a pallet system with a “B” axis. “We met all the customer’s requirements. The warranty period is ending this month, and the customer is extremely satisfied with the first years of the lathe’s operation,” emphasizes Sławomir Sywak and adds, “We cannot comment on the details of current contracts. Since we deal with state-of-the-art technologies, our clients always require confidentiality agreements. As for the contracts currently being executed, we are in the process of assembling another gantry milling machine for machining railway switch points for our Polish customer. This will be the third installation at their facility. And next year, we will deliver machine number four to the same company. It’s hard to ask for better references.”
When creating each machining tool, DTI solves specific technical problems that are meant to address the needs of their customers. Therefore, the technological process plays a significant role. The starting point is a proper understanding of the potential recipient’s machining tool needs. This is particularly important because many of the company’s customers prioritize price over technical parameters. While this may work for small machines, it’s not the case for large and specialized ones. The selection of parameters depends on the specific details to be machined on the machine, including the type of material, the type of machining (rough or finishing), efficiency, etc.
“When it comes to small and medium-sized machining tools, the primary criteria for selection can indeed be price and service. However, for heavy and specialized machining tools, it should be the fulfillment of the technical task and service,” says the president of DTI. “Heavy machines must solve a technical task. To achieve this, the manufacturer must have significant experience. In such projects, you can’t just compare basic technical parameters like the maximum diameter of the workpiece, its length, or maximum spindle speeds. With heavy machines, you also need to specify the technical characteristics of the spindle based on its rotation (power and torque), as well as the actual rigidity of the machining tool (both static and dynamic) regarding the task at hand. Failure to specify these parameters in many cases could mean that the customer’s expectations will not be met.”
During the design process, DTI employees consult not only with the customer at various levels (the technologist examines individual operations, production analyzes previous issues with machining specific parts, planning considers expected productivity, and sales assesses anticipated product ranges) but also with tool manufacturers (to adjust the machine’s parameters to the capabilities of the latest tools). This enables them to create a solution with the best possible balance between efficiency and cost.
Working meetings with potential customers also indicate which details will be most crucial in the project being developed. Typically, the customer has experience in machining specific or similar parts that are important to them. Therefore, DTI gathers information about what has been the customer’s most significant challenge so far, such as low productivity, chip removal issues, etc., as stated by Sławomir Sywak. “We thoroughly study the technological process and operations that are to be performed. Is the machine meant for specific tasks or should it be more versatile? Should it have the capability to machine parts that are not yet in production today but will be in a year or two? We consult this with the tooling company to adapt the machining tool’s parameters to the use of the latest tools.”
The next step is preparing a 3D project. DTI tries to take into account all the information collected earlier and, based on this, as well as their experience, offer the most suitable product in terms of quality, price, efficiency, and durability. If the project is accepted, a contract is signed. “However, the client’s engagement remains crucial, and we continue to consult on detailed solutions with them,” emphasizes the company’s president. “After delivering the machining tool, we jointly assess whether it met expectations. These requirements are written into the contract, such as checking precision and repeatability, trouble-free operation for a specified time, a specific period of machining for a given part, and we have even had an agreement specifying the weight of chips that should be ‘produced’ on the machining tool in one hour of machining.”
Thanks to this approach, DTI creates technical solutions that are often unique on a global scale, tailored to the individual and often unconventional needs of the recipient. It’s not surprising that the manufacturer from Racibórz holds numerous patents, indicating the uniqueness of the solutions applied in their machines. “Our main advantage is that the customer doesn’t have to adjust their needs to our product catalog; we adapt to the customer’s requirements,” argues Sławomir Sywak, adding, “Almost every project can yield solutions that can be patented. On the other hand, equally important, our machining tools meet all standards, including very strict safety standards.”
Conditions for Designers
“Firstly, we focus on innovation. We solve technical tasks that cannot be accomplished with standard machining tools. Secondly, quality of execution matters to us, including the use of components from the best manufacturers within the European Union (mainly from Germany, to a lesser extent from Italy and Spain). Thirdly, we prioritize reliability; our machines are prepared for years of operation. They are suitably rigid, which means they work precisely and consistently,” describes the unique standard, as outlined by the president of DTI.
It is not surprising that, for many years, the primary market for machines from Racibórz was the United States. DTI machines with their logo also operate in Germany and Russia, among other countries. In recent years, the share of the domestic market in the company’s sales structure has noticeably increased. This trend may continue to grow as the most promising industries for the company are primarily energy, as well as defense and aviation. At the same time, Polish manufacturers are beginning to mature as potential customers for specialized machines like those from DTI. As Sławomir Sywak points out, this is the result of Polish customers becoming more precise in defining their needs. They are also starting to seek the best solutions rather than the cheapest ones. This is a significant difference and an opportunity for DTI.
In this context, it is interesting to consider how the management of the Racibórz-based company envisions its development in the coming years. “In the niche in which we operate, flexibility and adaptation to customer needs are crucial. Smaller companies are naturally more flexible. Therefore, we don’t want the company to unnecessarily expand. Development will focus on using increasingly better and more efficient programs because our strength lies in design. And that’s where we need to create the best working conditions for our designers, provide them with constant opportunities for development, and keep them up-to-date with global trends,” emphasizes Sławomir Sywak, concluding, “Above all, it’s important that we have a fantastic team of people, competent and enthusiastic, who are committed to the company through thick and thin. These people are the foundation of DTI.”
Innovation is a highly important aspect of DTI’s machine development. The company has many patents to its name. As one of the first manufacturers in the world, DTI implemented dual drive in carousel tables and dual vertical support slide drives with electronic compensation of slider deflection during extension. Additionally, in previous projects, electronic control systems were used that deserve recognition. These systems included servo drives with positioning accuracy as low as 1 µm, backlash-free axis C drive with positioning repeatability not exceeding 0.0005°, integrated safety systems (Safety Integrated) from SIEMENS, comprehensive task-specific machine software, a three-channel control system, a CNC system controlling 24 axes, a PLC controller with around 1000 input and output signals, a machine power supply system with an installed power of up to 650 kW, single spindle drive systems with approximately 300 kW power, master-slave drives with high-torque motors, gantry drive implementing electronic slider deflection compensation, and a system for retracting the tool from the material in case of a power outage.
“Our designs have so far been based on CNC systems from companies like SIEMENS, FANUC, HEIDENHAIN, and INDRAMAT. Depending on the destination country, the electrical control system is designed and executed in accordance with the prevailing regulations there. For example, for customers in the USA, we use electrical components that have UL Listed approval. We use top-quality devices and materials to build control systems, with a focus on safety, functionality, and long-term reliability,” says Sławomir Sywak, president of Design Technologies International DTI sp. z o.o. “We offer our customers technical solutions that enable remote diagnosis of the control system, ensuring continuous technical support and rapid servicing.”