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    Machining

    Automating with Fastems to boost productivity

    • By MTDCNC
    • May 18, 2021
    • 6 minute read

    Kongsberg Automotive manufactures various machined parts for heavy vehicles in Hvittingfoss, near Kongsberg, Norway. The production facility also focuses on aluminium spare part production for clutches and this includes housings and actuator components. Since the late 1990s, Kongsberg had used four Makino a55s integrated into a Makino FMS (flexible manufacturing system), as well as one additional a55 operating on a stand-alone basis. After more than two decades of production, the company was facing a challenge – the old FMS was at risk of breaking down and there was no possibility for spare parts – enter the automation experts from Fastems.

    Operating four Makino a55s with Makino PRO 3 control in stand-alone mode wasn’t an option for Kongsberg Automotive, yet production continuity was essential. This left the Norweigan company with an issue that needed a solution.

    Håvard Buan, Facility Manager at Kongsberg Automotive was in charge of investments at the plant and knew they needed to find a solution. He realised that investing in a new FMS was the only reasonable way forward. After searching for potential suppliers, Buan came across Fastems and saw their technology as the most suitable for the job for two reasons. First, Håvard had heard positive feedback regarding Fastems’ systems from other companies in the past. Additionally, Fastems has proven its ability as a trusted partner in delivering this kind of project to a multitude of ‘brownfield projects’ – sites automating existing machine tools. Because the project required making updates to the existing Makinos, Norwegian dealer Kaspo Maskin played an important role in getting the interfacing right. From the Fastems’ side, the main contact person around the delivery was Henrik Brodén, responsible for the company’s sales in Scandinavia.

    What was the agreed solution?
    In 2018, Kongsberg decided to invest in an FMS ONE system with 54 pallet positions, 3 loading stations and the MMS control. This is Fastems’ larger-scale flexible manufacturing system, capable of handling up to ten machine tools. The existing Makinos wanted to be kept in production because they were in good shape and could meet the precision requirements and it was clear the machines still had many years left in them. In the future, the machines will be replaced one by one once they reach their ‘end of life’, making the FMS ONE investment the first step to higher productivity at Kongsberg Automotive.

    How did the project go?
    In Håvard’s experience, the project was very successful and stayed on schedule. The biggest worry at the time of the investment was the interfacing technology and how much trouble it would cause? A very understandable concern given the nature of the project!
    Agreement-wise, the project was purchased as a turnkey solution from Kaspo Maskin, who was also responsible for preparing the interfaces for the Makino machines. In the pre-study that was conducted on-site with both Kaspo and Fastems, the machines were checked and the interface specifications were agreed upon. This way, both parties knew how to prepare beforehand, ensuring smooth integration with fewer on-site hours. It was also agreed to keep the interfacing at a basic level. This meant it consisted of NC-program selections including program start/stops, status indications and safety features. More extensive interfacing such as NC program transfers, tool checks and ERP connectivity – will all be applied when the ageing machines have been renewed. From a Fastems perspective, the updates will be very easy to implement.
    In practice, Fastems built the FMS ONE on the other side of the old Makino FMS and then moved the a55s one by one into the new system. The fifth stand-alone a55 was also included to increase productivity. Delivering the project in this way enabled minimal production stops and minimised downtime. With some buffers, production was able to run without any major disturbance. The entire project lasted around 9 months from order to factory acceptance and this included the 3 weeks of installation on site.

    What was the outcome?
    As mentioned, Håvard’s biggest concern was the potential breakdown of the old FMS. This is not a worry anymore! On the contrary, the output of the existing Makinos has increased by 15 to 20% and the system runs error-free.
    Equally important, future changes were always kept in mind during the investment. The machine tools can be replaced one by one and integrated into the Fastems FMS ONE very easily. This will also account for modern interfacing that enables the full potential of the FMS ONE to be reached in terms of production planning features that will be supported by modern machine tools and a more extensive interface.

    The operators at Kongsberg Automotive have been satisfied with the user-friendliness of the Fastems’ MMS control software. Operated primarily via a large touch screen and with intuitive user friendly controls, the MMS is easy to use and is much like using everyday technology such as a smartphone. The work ergonomics have also increased significantly and this is down to improved operator access to the pallets in the loading stations.
    The Fastems MMS stores information on workpieces, fixturing and pallets. This means that re-running parts is very easy and can be done in a couple of minutes and doesn’t require lengthy manual preparations. Today, all pallets and fixtures can be stored inside the system, making workflow easier and more efficient. Unused pallet capacity also enables future growth.

    Executive summary – what can we learn?
    Down the years, Fastems has supplied several automation solutions for existing machine tools, so the situation at Kongsberg Automotive was not a unique case. Both Henrik and Håvard feel that manufacturers operating their current 4 or 5-axis machine tools should look closer at a complete automation system – or updating the current automation. The idea is probably something many have considered but few have started to implement. Suitability has to be evaluated on a case-by-case scenario, but the lessons learnt from Kongsberg Automotive show that these kinds of investments can increase productivity by significantly improving spindle utilisation. The systems also work well in terms of minimal production disturbance and ease of interfacing. By adopting a Fastems system, manufacturers can also future-proof production and improve their management of projects to ensure parts are delivered on schedule.

    https://cdn.mtdcnc.global/cnc/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/18092119/IMG_0632-640x360.jpg

    Automating with Fastems to boost productivity

    Kongsberg Automotive manufactures various machined parts for heavy vehicles in Hvittingfoss, near Kongsberg, Norway. The production facility also focuses on aluminium spare part production for clutches and this includes housings and actuator components. Since the late 1990s, Kongsberg had used four Makino a55s integrated into a Makino FMS (flexible manufacturing system), as well as one additional a55 operating on a stand-alone basis. After more than two decades of production, the company was facing a challenge – the old FMS was at risk of breaking down and there was no possibility for spare parts – enter the automation experts from Fastems.

    Operating four Makino a55s with Makino PRO 3 control in stand-alone mode wasn’t an option for Kongsberg Automotive, yet production continuity was essential. This left the Norweigan company with an issue that needed a solution.

    Håvard Buan, Facility Manager at Kongsberg Automotive was in charge of investments at the plant and knew they needed to find a solution. He realised that investing in a new FMS was the only reasonable way forward. After searching for potential suppliers, Buan came across Fastems and saw their technology as the most suitable for the job for two reasons. First, Håvard had heard positive feedback regarding Fastems’ systems from other companies in the past. Additionally, Fastems has proven its ability as a trusted partner in delivering this kind of project to a multitude of ‘brownfield projects’ – sites automating existing machine tools. Because the project required making updates to the existing Makinos, Norwegian dealer Kaspo Maskin played an important role in getting the interfacing right. From the Fastems’ side, the main contact person around the delivery was Henrik Brodén, responsible for the company’s sales in Scandinavia.

    What was the agreed solution?
    In 2018, Kongsberg decided to invest in an FMS ONE system with 54 pallet positions, 3 loading stations and the MMS control. This is Fastems’ larger-scale flexible manufacturing system, capable of handling up to ten machine tools. The existing Makinos wanted to be kept in production because they were in good shape and could meet the precision requirements and it was clear the machines still had many years left in them. In the future, the machines will be replaced one by one once they reach their ‘end of life’, making the FMS ONE investment the first step to higher productivity at Kongsberg Automotive.

    How did the project go?
    In Håvard’s experience, the project was very successful and stayed on schedule. The biggest worry at the time of the investment was the interfacing technology and how much trouble it would cause? A very understandable concern given the nature of the project!
    Agreement-wise, the project was purchased as a turnkey solution from Kaspo Maskin, who was also responsible for preparing the interfaces for the Makino machines. In the pre-study that was conducted on-site with both Kaspo and Fastems, the machines were checked and the interface specifications were agreed upon. This way, both parties knew how to prepare beforehand, ensuring smooth integration with fewer on-site hours. It was also agreed to keep the interfacing at a basic level. This meant it consisted of NC-program selections including program start/stops, status indications and safety features. More extensive interfacing such as NC program transfers, tool checks and ERP connectivity – will all be applied when the ageing machines have been renewed. From a Fastems perspective, the updates will be very easy to implement.
    In practice, Fastems built the FMS ONE on the other side of the old Makino FMS and then moved the a55s one by one into the new system. The fifth stand-alone a55 was also included to increase productivity. Delivering the project in this way enabled minimal production stops and minimised downtime. With some buffers, production was able to run without any major disturbance. The entire project lasted around 9 months from order to factory acceptance and this included the 3 weeks of installation on site.

    What was the outcome?
    As mentioned, Håvard’s biggest concern was the potential breakdown of the old FMS. This is not a worry anymore! On the contrary, the output of the existing Makinos has increased by 15 to 20% and the system runs error-free.
    Equally important, future changes were always kept in mind during the investment. The machine tools can be replaced one by one and integrated into the Fastems FMS ONE very easily. This will also account for modern interfacing that enables the full potential of the FMS ONE to be reached in terms of production planning features that will be supported by modern machine tools and a more extensive interface.

    The operators at Kongsberg Automotive have been satisfied with the user-friendliness of the Fastems’ MMS control software. Operated primarily via a large touch screen and with intuitive user friendly controls, the MMS is easy to use and is much like using everyday technology such as a smartphone. The work ergonomics have also increased significantly and this is down to improved operator access to the pallets in the loading stations.
    The Fastems MMS stores information on workpieces, fixturing and pallets. This means that re-running parts is very easy and can be done in a couple of minutes and doesn’t require lengthy manual preparations. Today, all pallets and fixtures can be stored inside the system, making workflow easier and more efficient. Unused pallet capacity also enables future growth.

    Executive summary – what can we learn?
    Down the years, Fastems has supplied several automation solutions for existing machine tools, so the situation at Kongsberg Automotive was not a unique case. Both Henrik and Håvard feel that manufacturers operating their current 4 or 5-axis machine tools should look closer at a complete automation system – or updating the current automation. The idea is probably something many have considered but few have started to implement. Suitability has to be evaluated on a case-by-case scenario, but the lessons learnt from Kongsberg Automotive show that these kinds of investments can increase productivity by significantly improving spindle utilisation. The systems also work well in terms of minimal production disturbance and ease of interfacing. By adopting a Fastems system, manufacturers can also future-proof production and improve their management of projects to ensure parts are delivered on schedule.