Haas Opens Tech Centre in Belgium

Haas Automation Europe’s latest Haas Technical Education Centre (HTEC) opened May 15 at the Vrij Technisch Instituut (VTI) Sint-Lucas, Oudenaarde, in eastern Belgium. The new facility brings the number of fully certified HTECs in Europe to seven, all established since the programme was launched by Haas last September at EMO Hannover.

The VTI facility has several functioning Haas cnc machine tools, including a MiniMill, an SL-10 turning centre, a TM-1 toolroom mill, a TL-1 toolroom lathe, and a VF-2 vertical machining centre. A separate, adjacent classroom houses four Haas CNC simulators and several computers running Keller CNCPlus-Training, a control programme designed to teach both novices and experienced operators who lack specific expertise how to programme a Haas machine using the proprietary Haas CNC.

Companies working with Haas to support the HTEC programme include Keller, Esprit, Sandvik, Blaser, Urma, and Renishaw. Like all other HTECs, the VTI facility is closely affiliated with the local Haas factory outlet (HFO).

The Belgian minister of state and vice president of the chamber of representatives, along with the minister of defense, were present for the HTEC grand opening event, which was covered on Belgian national television.

The VTI HTEC grand opening will be followed in June by official openings of two facilities in Russia, at St. Petersburg State University and the Samara Technical School of Instrument Engineering.

“We expect to reach at least 20 fully certified HTECs in Europe by the end of 2008,” says Haas Automation Europe managing director Peter Hall, “with at least double that number to open during 2009, as the programme gains momentum.”

At last year’s EMO, Hall announced the company’s goal of establishing 200 HTECs in Europe within the next five to seven years. These would join the more than 600 similar facilities already up and running in North America and Canada.

Citing the critical European shortage of manufacturing technologists, including skilled CNC machine operators and technicians, Hall explains that Haas’s intention is that “HTECs will serve as incubators of local economic growth, provide the inventors, technologists, and entrepreneurs of tomorrow, and give young people opportunities for exciting and productive careers.”

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