Machine tending to allow faster packaging and delivery of produced items to customers.
Grantek produces a wide variety of items, requiring a flexible method of identifying and sorting products. To help speed up production, the company needed a solution that would enable it to move from just handling bespoke orders to being able to manufacture more items in greater quantities.
The company is now using ABB’s FlexLoader™ SC 6000 to provide the flexibility to handle multiple items and enable a switch to round-the-clock production as and when needed.
Established in 1940, Grantek delivers a wide variety of services and products including manufacturing advanced special parts for industrial applications, reverse engineering, laser engraving, mechanical processing, wire spark, 3D printing, construction and more.
For the seven-strong company based in Fagersta, Sweden, investing in its first robot has been a success.
"This investment has helped us to greatly enhance our capabilities as a company. We can process more orders for more customers and make full use of the hours available in a day, including producing around the clock if necessary. Now we get requests that we have never had before, so the robot has increased our competitiveness considerably,” says Kjell Granqvist, CEO Grantek.
Flexible turnkey solution
Grantek uses an ABB FlexLoaderTM SC 6000, a turnkey solution that has been designed to ensure that the items that are fed from the production line are ready to be packaged and delivered to the customer. This standard cell contains an ABB IRB 4600 robot, which uses ABB’s FlexLoader Vision software to enable fast and simple teaching of new objects and materials to provide maximum flexibility.
In developing the solution for Grantek, ABB worked closely with machine tool manufacturer DMG MORI to incorporate its CTX beta 1250 TC multi-operation lathe. As a result, Grantek can use a single cell to handle a wide variety of products, further adding to the overall flexibility of the solution.
By meeting the exact needs of customers in this way, this type of collaboration is key to creating security in large investments especially when an application involves implementing new technology.
"We decided to opt for a high-end solution that we knew would withstand tolerances and advanced machining with high levels of automation, but at the same time provide the flexibility to allow the cell to run pieces and prototypes. This solution is absolutely fantastic in that way; it is so flexible that we can run manually and in full automation at the same machine," says Kjell Granqvist.
Automation opens up opportunities
The investment in robotic automation has enabled Grantek to transform both its productivity and competitiveness. Rather than being limited to delivering special jobs on demand, the company can now manufacture items on a series basis. Automation has opened opportunities such as manufacturing more challenging items, more advanced processing and even being able to run in work shifts, allowing Grantek to scale up production if required.
Grantek’s project is proof of the numerous benefits that robotic automation offers small and medium sized enterprises including improved consistency and product quality, lower operating costs, increased production output, flexibility, adaptability, agility and reduction of waste. By using robots, SMEs can reduce mistakes and focus more on increasing profitability, gaining a competitive advantage and penetrating new markets.
"We made this investment because we wanted to enter a new market. Now we can manufacture in a completely different way than was possible before. In the daytime we can run maybe ten to twelve special details, then we can change and run series production at night. For a small company like ours, the ability to get more out of the hours of the day makes a big difference in competitiveness," says Kjell Granqvist.
The future looks bright
Grantek was founded as a mechanical workshop by Kjell Granqvist's grandfather in the 1940s. Since then, the level of technology in the company has increased considerably, but the decision to automate was still a big step to take, both technically and resource-wise. The good supplier cooperation around the installation made it easier but took a lot of programming and many hours of learning to process the details correctly.
"It's been a big challenge, but it has been worth it. Using advanced technology has been a boost for the whole workshop, and I would like to have the opportunity to purchase additional equipment, because it has so far worked very well," says Kjell Granqvist. "Grantek has always been recognized for good quality and thanks to this effort and investment, I believe we will continue to deliver even higher quality. I look forward to the future with confidence!”