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“Ke e ps winni ng o rders” Clitheroe Light Engineering, a family-run contract machinist employing 35 staff, has invested £1.4 million in a second flexible manufacturing system (FMS) at its factory in Clitheroe, Lancashire, to cope with continuing high levels of business growth. Working around the clock, seven days a week, the latest installation consists of two DMG-Mori Seiki NH5000twin-pallet(2APC)4-axishorizontalmachining centres served by a Fastems FPC automated storage and retrieval system. It houses twenty 500 mm-square machine pallets carrying fixtured workpieces on two levels. A 3-axis CNC stacker crane running along a rail inside the store delivers the pallets automatically to and from the machines. Helen Meloy, Managing Director, said “We started installing our first FMS in 2006 and completed it in 2010. By that time, the original Fastems pallet store had doubled in size and fourth and fifth machining centres had been added, bringing the total investment to £2.6 million. “However, as fast as we upgraded the system, our customers in the mining and construction sectors gave us additional work to fill the capacity. Rather than extend the first system again, we decided to introduce resilience by adding a second separate FMS. “Our main customers are global players that can choose to have their price-sensitive components made anywhere, such as Eastern Europe or the Far East, so we have always placed a firm accent on automation to maintain our competitiveness.”

Fastems MMS software oversees FMS operation. Running on a standard, Windows-based PC, its main tasks are to control the stacker crane and schedule automatic pallet transfers between the load stations, store and machines. The control displays a mimic of the entire system and uses colours and icons to advise the real-time status of all main FMS elements. An operator fixtures components onto pallets and then subsequently remove finish-machined parts at a workpiece load/unload station.

“Su b contra ctor doub les capacity” A leading contract machinist serving the aerospace and defence sectors, RE Thompson, used to run all of its manually operated, twin-pallet (2APC) machining centres around the clock. There was no space to expand

The solution was to install two, twin-machine, flexible manufacturing systems (FMS), each fed with machine pallets held in a Fastems FPC automated storage and retrieval system. The competitively priced store is faster at presenting pallets to the machine spindles than 2APC or conventional pallet pools. Moreover, as pallets are housed on two levels, FPCs have a smaller footprint than some other multi-pallet storage systems. Matthew Shaw, Business Development Manager at RE Thompson, was instrumental in planning the additional capacity. He said, “Surprisingly we have achieved a doubling of available hours, even though we are operating one less machining centre overall.” He went on to say that the extra hours of available machining come only partly from getting the next component into production quicker. More important is the ability to run the entire 12-hour night shift on each FMS unmanned. During the day, operators ensure there are sufficient jobs fixtured and held ready within the store to keep the spindles running overnight.

operations on the site in Whitchurch, Hampshire, but the company found a way of doubling prismatic machining capacity within its existing factory, saving the cost and disruption of moving.

Furthermore, whereas shop floor staff are willing to work day shifts at the weekend, they baulk at working nights. So lights-out FMS running from 6.00 pm to 6.00 am on Saturday and Sunday is a net productivity gain for RE Thompson. With either of the FMS, the company can make one-offs as economically as larger batches. Work-in-progress on the shop floor is a thing of the past, saving money and space, and activities before and after machining we have been streamlined.

Who are Fastems?

Fastems is the leading supplier of factory automation. Our business idea is to improve our customers’ competitiveness through automation and to get the most out of the 8760 production hours that are available each year.

Fastems Oy Ab is a privately-owned Finnish company founded in1901. Our annual turnover is 81million Euros and we have 430 employees worldwide. Our head-quarters is located in Tampere, Finland, and we have subsidiaries in seven countries in Europe, as well as in the United States and Japan. Fastems’ professionals are highly educated and committed to meet any factory automation needs. Our constant focus on customer satisfaction has gained us a strong position as a proven automation supplier for the aerospace industry. In addition to the aerospace industry, our important customers include construction & mining machinery industries, built-to-order vehicle manufacturers, general machine builders (such as printing, food, forest machines, and machine tools), mechanical engineering companies (such as gear wheels, engines, and instruments), and component manufacturing and assembly factories.

“Spind le h ou rs up� Fastems automation makes it possible to automate production with machine tools and thus enables unmanned production. At the same time, the production capacity and utilization rate of the machine tools is increased.

Run you r pro d uctio n j ust the wa y yo u wa nt . Fastems can help you get your production running the way you want, whether your goal is agile or lean production with the just-in-time (JIT/JOT) approach, Kanban, mass production or variable batch sizes with steady quality, or 100% traceability of the manufactured parts. With Fastems automation, you can reduce your cycle times and increase your productivity and utilization rates while keeping the WIP small. Mo re c a sh f low throug h im p rove d le ad t i mes.

Stand-alone machine tools typically achieve less than 2000 spindle hours a year whereas machine tools integrated into a FMS system are able to exceed 6000 spindle hours per year. The best flexible manufacturing systems have reached over 7200 production hours a year in continuously changing batch production. Increased spindle utilization rates together with lower operating costs enable rapid return on investment (ROI). Fastems makes it easy to integrate your machine tools into an automation system that optimizes their productivity. Using an FMS is easy: you just need to enter the order, the order number and its due date and the system takes care of the rest.

Fastems automation frees tied-up capital, cuts personal costs and improves quality at the same time. Effiecient material management and logistics together with advanced production planning features make it possible to run productionwith only a little presetting and fewer operating personel, yet still improving quality as there are fewer human factors affecting the production. This enables short lead times and small batch sizes, whilst preserving the benefits of mass production. Zero setup times with ready-to-use fixtures for repeatable jobs make batch sizes as small as one viable for profitable production. The system saves factory floor space as materials, fixtures and pallets are stored within the FMS.

How far do you want to g o?

Wh en i s i t wi se not to au tomate? Yo u d o n’ t n ee d to be c om petitive? E x isti n g o rd ers are ver y low & will st ay ve r y low? So lu t io n – p r i c e ten d ers as su m in g au to m a ti on a nd win o rde rs.

Ca n’ t se ll compet itive cap acit y to ge ne rate mo re profit s ? M ach in es & p ro ces ses are kn ow n to b e un re lia ble o r inc ap ab le- wi s e – d o n ot au tomate. So lu t io n – Re p lac e wit h D M G / M or i Sei ki s ol ut ion

S o ci al ne e d to occ upy sca rce val u ab le o pe rators with s im p le m anu al act iv it i es ?

RE SULTS OUT O F TH E BOX 50 %-10 0% m ore c apa cit y Re duc ed c osts M o re orders B et ter qu ali t y H a pp ier c ustom e rs M o re profit s


Benefi ts of i nvesti ng in an FPC š In crea sed productiv ity š Hig h er profitabilit y š Greater process control š Max imum flex ibili ty š Re du ced costs šE xtendable u p to a two-machine system i mmediate ly or i n t he fu ture

š High storage cap acity d ue to two-level storage (except FPC-3000) š Pre -ass emb led and te sted F MS p rovide s sh or t in stallation and star tup times š Ad va nce d FPC Ce ll Con troller for un manned op eration s šG ood user ergo nom ics an d safety


SO WHY NOT? Conta ct your b usiness par tners at -

Fa stems Ltd H aw ley Mil l , H aw ley Roa d D a r tfo rd, Ke nt , DA 2 7SY E : sale s@fastem Te l : 01 322 28 22 76 Fa x: 01322 2 8 22 50 M o b : 07818 42 71 33 W W W.FASTE M S.C OM


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