Mastec shatters the myths about automation in mass production

Mastec Components is one of nine companies in the Mastec Group, specialists in processing and contract manufacturing of metal and plastic components.

In Ulricehamn the focus is on advanced milling and lathing work, especially for the medical products industry and the defense industry. The company recently ordered a second FlexMT™ from SVIA. Plant manager Lars-Erik Larsson says that they will probably want more.

Soon there will be two FlexMT™ at Mastec in Ulricehamn. The first one tends an ultra-modern lathe, which is as much a mill as a lathe, according to plant manager Lars-Erik Larsson.

– The lathe has very advanced features, which makes demands on how it’s fed.

We do exclusively small and medium-sized batches, and need to be able to reprogram the robotic cell quickly and easily.

Lars-Erik Larsson sees the robotic cell’s versatility as its most important characteristic.

– It takes ten minutes to adjust. If we want to, we can expand the cell with post-tending processes such as deburring and marking.

 

Planned stops

The operator loads the conveyor belt and lets the machine run until it has emptied the belt, usually after 20 hours. The cell then alerts the operator, who reloads the belt and restarts production.

But what does the staff say about their new tasks and about becoming robotic cell operators?

– There was distrust, but we’ve taken things one step at a time and we did SVIA’s robotic training well in advance of implementation. The employees have really flourished.  Now, like me, they think it’s really exciting and fun.

 

Not just large batches

According to Lars-Erik Larsson there’s no alternative to automation.

Not if we want to have a manufacturing industry in Sweden that can face competition from Asia and in our case also southern Europe.

That automation is only efficient for mass production is a myth, according to the site manager at Mastec in Ulricehamn.

– My experience is solely positive and I would urge others not to hesitate. Give encouragement, go to fairs, take every opportunity to have a look and understand!

 

Advantage standardization

– There are other suppliers than SVIA, but few of them have standardized concepts. As a subcontractor we are constantly producing new products in relatively small batches. We need versatile cells.

According to Lars-Erik Larsson, the greatest effect is felt after adding cells number two and three.

¬We can handle the planned capacity increase with the staff we already have. They enjoy their work more and more time is freed up for them to work with other improvements and productivity-increasing initiatives.

 

It’s simple

Lars-Erik Larsson’s advice is to focus on the soft issues, on getting employees involved.

– The robotic cell is ready for use when it’s delivered. Integration takes a few days, then the cell works for 10-15 years.

There are no safety worries, either: the cell is CE marked, encapsulated, has security doors and preprogrammed stopping mechanisms.

– FlexMT™ will become our standard.

 

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