The Vitoria-based company Castmetal forms part of the Safe Metal Group. Since its very beginnings, in addition to casting, it has specialised in the use of machining to obtain the end product.

The Safe Metal Group, a world leader in cast steel components.

They operate in many markets ranging from public works and mining to heavy trucks, rail transport, material handling and lifting, agricultural machinery and defense vehicles. It does this from its various plants located all around the world. The Group’s primary strategy is to add value to its end products through the use of machining. Proof of this can be found in its two most recent acquisitions in France: the production sites in Beine-Nauroy and Tronville-En-Barrois of the company MÉCA2L, which is considered a machining specialist for the aeronautical, agricultural, heavy, construction and weaving industries, amongst others.

This is a special interview since we are going to discuss the company’s fourth ZAYER machine: a XIOS G machine with two working tables.

Castmetal is the embodiment of loyalty since it has established a production cell with four XIOS G machines which machine its flagship product: CATERPILLAR mining truck axles.

ZAYER enjoys a long-standing and fruitful relationship with Castmetal, having worked together for many years and developed an unparalleled partnership. Castmetal’s ways of working, competence and level of demand go hand-in-hand with those of ZAYER. Together, we have written a beautiful story of joint growth that we are delighted to tell you.

An interview with Jesús Sanz, head of machining at Castmetal.

Would it be fair to say that Safe Metal continues to grow?

Absolutely, yes. We can say that the strategic plan to add value to the end product is being supported by the two production sites that were recently acquired by the Group. Not only does this mean that the group is growing, but it will also allow Safe Metal –a global specialist in cast steel products– to expand and reinforce its offer. The company will now be able to provide a more integrated and reactive offer because it will better respond to our customer’s challenges.

Co-design is being increasingly requested by our customers, and our ad-hoc machining service is key to addressing this. High value-added steel casting for the transport, material handling and construction markets is evolving, and Safe Metal is now offering its customers turnkey solutions. With the knowledge and experience that we have accumulated over the past 150 years, we offer everything from design to commissioning of parts, whether they weigh one gram or several tonnes.

Can you paint us a picture of Castmetal’s current situation and explain the role that our XIOS G machine plays in the company’s production process?

Castmetal operates in the transport, material handling, mining and construction markets. Around 50-60% of our turnover is accounted for by the axles of CATERPILLAR trucks, which are used in the fields of mining and construction. We are talking about a thriving market that requires continuous activity. We assume total responsibility for the manufacture of the axles, from the casting of the parts to the final machining. As machining has evolved, so too have our machining needs.

In 2015, we decided to acquire three XIOS G machines to create a dedicated production cell for this product. This major investment led to improved safety and productivity for Castmetal.

Besides avoiding safety problems, the automation of all operations allowed us to increase our capacity and productivity. We managed to machine the axles in just two operations, which represented a huge leap forward.

“This major investment led to improved safety and productivity”


Due to our close and long-standing cooperation with ZAYER in the monitoring of these machines, we thought it made sense to reduce the two operations into a single, combined operation.

By teaming up with ZAYER to evaluate their feedback on experiences with the three XIOS G machines, we are now able to provide tailor-made solutions to new challenges. We set about co-designing a new machine, keeping the best features of the XIOS G machines that we already had but adding new functions or features that would bring the improvements that we were looking for. That is how the new XIOS G with two working tables came about.

Why do you think a ZAYER machine is the solution for axle machining?

We chose to work with ZAYER for distinct reasons, but I would like to give a special mention to the co-design process. ZAYER studies our needs and works shoulder to shoulder with our team, monitoring how their machines adapt to our production process. Their solutions can take the form of machine design, automation or even maintenance services. Everything is made-to-measure.

The two 1,600 x 1,500 mm rotary tables give us a longitudinal travel of 6,240 mm, a cross travel of 1,600 mm and a vertical travel of 1,600 mm, which is a perfect match for the dimensions we needed. Together, we have improved on the original XIOS machine to reach this XIOS G. This offers a lot to both of us, and it also improves ZAYER’s machine inventory. It’s a real win-win. I must stress that for Safe Metal, ZAYER has always been our first choice. You are our benchmark in machine tools.

“By teaming up with ZAYER, we can provide tailor-made solutions to new challenges.”


What are the main benefits of the XIOS G machines?

The new XIOS G 2M, which works with the other three XIOS Gs in machining the axles for CATERPILLAR trucks, has increased our production capacity by 67%. We have gone from machining roughly 16 axles a day to 25. We work in long series, and the two working areas of the XIOS G machine enable pendular work through the two rotary tables. This significantly increases productivity.

I would also highlight its ergonomic design, which is fully adapted to the operator and makes work easier and faster. The XIOS G machine has three distinct areas: There is a table on the left, a fully covered central area and another table on the right. If we have a prepared part on the left-hand table, we can move it to the central area so that it is completely covered and start to work on it. Meanwhile, the operator prepares the next part on the right-hand table. They could also carry out leak tests at this time. This gives us a lot of speed, flexibility and a great deal of scope.

Besides these benefits, are there any other characteristics of the XIOS G 2M machines that have surprised you?

Yes, I’m also very impressed by the iCall and Center Table APPs. They allow us to set the machine to the required working conditions in terms of precision. The axles we manufacture require a very high level of precision. By working in such long series, the machines are exposed to multiple factors that can affect their geometry. For example, its perpendicularity or parallelism could vary by a few hundredths. Through the iCall and Center Table APPs, we can get the machine to self-adjust automatically, without the need for a technician. It is 100% accurate and it saves us a lot of time.

What can you tell us about the services we offer? Would you highlight anything in particular?

The machine status reports are very practical. For both maintenance and worn-out parts, this has proved to be a very convenient resource. We monitor the machines and can consult their status on the HORUS NX platform. The sensor system installed in the machine allows for correct operation at all times. We constantly monitor our machines with ZAYER due to our proximity and familiarity with the company. However, having this information available at the click of a button is highly valuable.

 “With the HORUS platform, the monitoring of our machines is continuous”


Was there a key service that convinced you to buy the machine?

Of course. The key services that led to us purchasing the machine were:

  • Joint programming. Part of the programming in the machining process was developed alongside ZAYER.
  • Adapted design. Finally, I would like to highlight the new machine design that has helped to make everything more operational. We had to lower the XIOS G machine by 300-400 mm to bring the working height to the level of the hands of an average person. If it would have followed the trend of all other machines on the market, it would have been half a metre higher, which is much less accessible. Not only would this have affected the ergonomics and ease of work, but it would also have reduced the speed and efficiency of the machine.

The machine was not set at this height in the previous design. However, after analysing it with ZAYER, we concluded that it would be best to bring everything lower. Although this entailed more investment, it has been key for subsequent projects. ZAYER also teamed up with construction workers in the foundation phase, who contributed many helpful ideas. I think that all three parties did a great job.

I would say the decision came down to a combination of 3 factors: the technology; the fast and permanent service; and the economic range offered by ZAYER. It’s a combination that convinced us from the very beginning.

Jesús, thank you so much for this fascinating insight. We look forward to continuing to work together in the future.

Thanks to you, too. This way of improving by assessing feedback is very fruitful. I’m sure we will continue to make improvements going forward.