1,000 Flexible Pallet Containers by Fastems are Utilized Globally by High-Mix Metalworking Manufacturers to Automate Horizontal Milling Machines

Fastems announced the delivery of the 1,000th unit of its Flexible Pallet Container. Designed 23 years ago to meet the need for fast-to-deploy and easy-to-purchase automation for virtually any horizontal milling machine tool, FPC has already been integrated with hundreds of different machine tool models. Many OEM and contract manufacturers all over the world have taken their first automation steps with FPC and made their high-mix production more efficient and profitable.

Metal cutting manufacturers throughout the world have realized many achievements after implementing FPC including a shop yield rate of 99.5%, no rework due to failures, 60% shorter cycle times, easy re-run of any part, efficient manufacturing of 900 different components, spindle utilization of over 85%, lights-out production, stable delivery times, retention of local manufacturing, and 50% reduction in production setup times. The factory-tested milling CNC automation unit ships in under 10 weeks and takes only a day to install.

Developed in 2000 for the growing need to automate multiple horizontal machining centers easily, affordably, and fast, FPC is a flexible manufacturing system accommodating up to three machining centers and 8-40 machining pallets of 400 to 1,000 mm. Used by CNC manufacturers in various industries such as aerospace, defense, machine building and subcontracting, the impressive productivity achievements have led to FPC deliveries peaking – the 1,000th unit now delivered. Out of the 1,000 systems sold, already 179 have been extended to accommodate more machine tools.

The very first FPC was delivered in 2001 to Germany for a large automotive manufacturer, and after an upgrade in 2014 and a relocation in 2020, it is in use today in by a Turkish subcontracting company that works with various industries such as railway, agriculture, mining, and elevators. Since its first launch, FPC has been developed to match current manufacturing needs; when compared to the original system, the FPC of today comes in five size categories for 750 to 3,000 kg payloads and extra-small versions for tight spaces. In addition, a lot of ergonomic improvements have been made both for the system software and hardware, many of them originating from the feedback collected from FPC users.

The 1,000th FPC was just recently delivered to Finnish technology company Avant Tecno, a leading global manufacturer of multi-functional loaders. By automating, Avant Tecno increases their manufacturing capacity of joints and boom fins for their 400-800 loader series. Their FPC is integrated with an OKUMA MA-600 HIII machine tool. “We aim to double our manufacturing capacity within the next 5 years. Every loader we manufacture is unique and of high quality – our modular design allows every customer to get a solution that fits perfectly for their needs. We produce per order, so we need to be able to run low volumes of various components efficiently. This is why we selected the Fastems FPC for our machining automation”, says Jani Käkelä, the CEO of Avant Tecno.

“We are very proud of what our customers have already achieved with the help of FPC. Unlike many pallet automation systems in the market, FPC is designed for economic high-mix manufacturing. For that it’s not enough to have just a transfer device loading pallets into the machine – it must be clear as to what to machine and when, easy to introduce new workpieces into production, and affordable to run orders of any size. Otherwise, there will always be machines waiting, machines on idle and some machines that have a huge pile of orders waiting to be processed. Without production flexibility, the shop’s machining capacity can never be fully utilized”, explains Mikko Nyman, the CEO of Fastems. “Our manufacturing customers producing high-mix have achieved amazing results with FPC and the demand just keeps growing. It took us 15 years to reach the first 500 units and under 7 years for the second 500. We hope to be celebrating the 1,500th unit within couple of years already!”

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