Interview with Mr. Nishan Bazdigyan, CEO, RAIS Ltd.

MachinesInterviewSouth-East European INDUSTRIAL Мarket - issue 3/2010

Machine-building market imposes greater high-speed machining conditions and combining more operations in one machine

Says Mr. Nishan Bazdigyan, CEO, RAIS Ltd.

RAIS Ltd. is one of the Bulgarian market leaders in the production and recycling of CNC machines.
The Company was established in 1994 with its object being recycling, repair, and modernization of CNC metal-cutting machines. Gradually its activity gets directed toward the production of new metal-cutting machines. The Company is the only manufacturer of vertical machining centers with sizes of 300-800 mm (table size varying from 400x300 mm to 1600x800 mm; spindle speed of 8000 – 15000 rpm) in the country.
RAIS Ltd. is a CNC lathes manufacturer. The maximum machining diameter on their CNC lathes is 200, 250, 500, and 700 mm. The Company also produces spare parts for forklifts. RAIS Ltd. is capable of performing complete retrofit of CNC machines, including horizontal and vertical centers.
In the recent years, the product line has been considerably expanded. Currently, the Company product list includes five lathe models as well as nine types of milling machines. They are all equipped with reliable CNC systems by Siemens, Heidenhain and Fanuc Corporation, Japan. In terms of stability, RAIS Ltd. produced machines exceed all the other machines of this size with precise linear guide ways and ball screws incorporated. Company machines are entirely designed and introduced in production by its specialists.
At present, RAIS Ltd. possesses company representations in Greece and Turkey. The Corporation successfully appears on the market as an official representative of approved Japanese manufacturers. RAIS Ltd. keeps partner relationship with leading Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturers.
The Company has introduced, maintained, and continuously been improving a Quality control system based on ISO 9001:2001 and OHSAS 18001 Occupational Safety and Health Management System.

RAIS Ltd. is one of the leading Bulgarian companies for production of CNC metal machines. Where do you mainly realize your production?
Over the past 16 years, RAIS Ltd. has strengthened its positions on the Bulgarian, as well as on the international CNC metal-cutting machines market. The production and realization of these products has its own specificities. We don’t treat a sell as an end-in-itself. Prior to production realization we make it our aim to provide rapid and qualitative servicing. That’s our advantage over the others in the branch.
Over the years, we have appreciated that selling a single machine is a kind of cooperation. The customer invests in equipment in order to realize his own production. We should ensure that the machine bought from us will work and will be adequately exploited. It would be possible only if there is a high quality product available and competent servicing. The issue of realizing the product comes afterwards.
Concerning your question about our company markets I can point out the following: over different years between 50 and 70 % of RAIS Ltd. produced machines get realized in Bulgaria. Our clients are machine-building companies, manufacturing stamping and squirting instruments, as well as other machine-building tools. Inhom-98, Astroida-Panagyurishte, Metal-Varna, Eldom Invest Ltd, Hundai Heavy Industries etc. are our traditional clients.
Outside Bulgaria our products are well accepted in more than 10 European countries including Germany, Italy, Serbia, Turkey, Greece, Romania, and Macedonia.  In Russia, we sell mainly Siemens CNC machines. Support services are ensured in the countries where we realize our machines. We also secure the process of putting in operation and proper training as a part of the equipment price. Client consultation is organized concerning programming and technology.

How do you evaluate the possibilities of metal-cutting machine development on the Bulgarian market?
Metal-cutting machines market is a part of the rest marketing space. Unfortunately, the latter continues functioning under crisis conditions. Beside the crisis itself, the strong competition in the branch is also important.
Till recently, RAIS Ltd. manufactured predominantly standard machines - three-axis milling machines and two-axis lathes. The competition in this class is great. We are manufacturers but importers appear on the market. Therefore, we find a way out of the situation in hi-tech machines production. The Company possesses the necessary capacity of specialists, technological equipment, and resources for achieving this. One of our latest working outs is a five-axis vertical machining center with a new closed-axle layout.
We can offer construction companies a product line of metal profile drilling equipment for building metal constructions. All over the world construction industry uses less concrete and more metal. Building branch has been very much industrialized. It is also suffering a crisis. Nevertheless, we think construction companies will demand this product after the end of the critical situation. Our working out allows clients to directly cut out and drill profiles for metal constructions by just using the project draft. Now RAIS Ltd. is offering high-tech machines and we consider continuing our work along these lines. At the same time, we will extend the production of standard three-axis milling machines and two-axis lathes. They are also in great demand.
The economic crisis caused the collapse of many markets. Is there any pump and dump emerging, concerning CNC machines?
I can say there is one in Bulgaria. More and more companies are interested in purchasing metal-cutting machines. Most of them used to work with European partners before the crisis period. They are presently looking for Bulgarian subdistributors which requires production capacity enlargement.
For instance, in Germany where we have contacts with E/D/E, offering our machines, things are different. Germany possesses strong automotive industry. It works well which means CNC metal-cutting machines market is strong. I hope the same will happen to other industry sectors. However, the first months of the year – January, February and March are hard, no matter whether economics as a whole is in crisis or not. As a rule, equipment purchases at the end of each year and the beginning of the next one are rare.

What direction do metal cutting machines move in?
Generally, technical innovations move towards machining conditions development. Higher spindle speed range and machining speeds are used.  Besides, machine-building market imposes a necessity of combining more operations in one machine. These innovations are best outlined in big European technical exhibitions where all innovations in that field could be seen.
I should notice that all RAIS Ltd. produced machines have been constructed by our engineering team. We aim at keeping with market requirements and release a new product every sixth month on average.

What CNC systems do you use in machine production? What requirements for them are needed and what are their advantages?
RAIS Ltd. produced machines are equipped with last generation CNC systems and drive units mainly from world-famous trademarks: Fanuc, Siemens, and Heidenhain. We stand up for this because we want to ensure support services for our machines’ electronics. The aforementioned companies have service centers all over the world with certain specialists available. Wherever and whatever happens to the equipment they can fix the problem.
All the elements we incorporate in our machines possess respective support services in Bulgaria or the countries we work with. In terms of stability, RAIS Ltd. produced machines exceed all the other products of their size. Due to the same reason - guaranteed support services, we use precise linear guide mechanisms and ball screws from Bosch Rexroth Group and INA. We choose high-quality products at a good price.
On the one hand we have the component base in our products. On the other hand, the company invests in permanent updating of our technical equipment for machine production, control, and construction. We are currently working on a programme thanks to which we want to enlarge our capacity for head work pieces processing. We are on the verge of purchasing a new surface-grinding machine, guide machine hardening lines and 2000/3000 mm long-run measuring machine.

What are the innovations of your product line?
I’ve already had the possibility to mention one of our latest machines – a five-axis high-speed vertical machining center GM350. It is supplied with a new base framework, allowing the simultaneous construction of 3-, 4- and 5-axis machines. The heavy cast iron is capable of supporting heavy loads at heavy maximum damping. Since the guide mechanisms throughout the three linear axes are mounted on the closed-axle column in a 3-axis variation on the main table  column heavier work pieces could be machined, compared to C class(I400-I500 etc.)products. By analogy, a greater clearance-gate and more stable canting table are mounted in the 5-axis product.
The latest RAIS Ltd. lathe machine – O350 enriched the lathes product base. There are six modifications available. It is designed to perform a large range of turning operations on medium-sized parts and components on a serial production basis.
T202 is another one of our latest lathe machine models. It is developed on base of standard CNC Lathe T 200 with appending of second spindle (contra spindle) on the place of tailstock and turret that allows work with two opposite spindles. The product is capable of processing chuck allowing interception of detail from the first spindle in the second and subsequent of the other side of the work piece. In standard lathe machines turning of detail and completion of machining require manual turn by an operator or using a robot. To process long details both spindles can operate simultaneously as the work piece is snatched in both spindles.
We are currently working on a new lathe model with two identical spindles and two turret heads. We expect it to be very attractive to our clients. Furthermore, on a world scale, there are only a few companies, manufacturing this kind of heavy duty machines.

Where do you exhibit your products?
One could see our machines exhibited in many international fairs where RAIS Ltd. is a traditional participant. Every year we show our production in Moscow. The Moscow fair is annually organized in the middle of May. We’ve been a traditional participant in the Plovdiv International Fair and the international fair in Turkey for 15 years. Unfortunately, this year the Athens fair didn’t happen. Next year we would like to participate in the fair, organized in Serbia. We usually take part in some specialized exhibitions like MachTech Expo in Sofia.
Any time, clients could get acquainted with our products by visiting our modern exhibition hall, opened up almost three years ago on the territory of our company in Pazardjik.

A year ago you realized the idea of starting cooperation with the Technical University of Sofia. Do you expand the initiative, concerning other universities?
We are in close cooperation with the Bulgarian technical schools. We appreciate the fact that they are the forge for cadres who will be operating our machines. The Company policy is to provide them with the possibility to work with contemporary and modern machines in order to become well prepared for their future professional realization. Together with ESD Bulgaria we gave the Technical University a new RAIS – M400 lathe machine. It is now situated in their laboratory where students could practice what they’ve learnt from the lectures. We are about to realize the same initiative with the Technical University of Gabrovo next month. We will provide the University with a new lathe machine. In RAIS Ltd. we try to help schools, aspiring to prepare well-educated specialists. We are aware that the educational process is a joint commitment of business and educational institutions.

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