ALM Engineering Solutions: Increasing capacity during labour shortages
ALM Engineering Solutions utilise the latest CNC Milling and CNC Turning machines to manufacture precision machined parts and assemblies.
They contacted Cobots Online looking to increase capacity across their machine shop during a serious labour shortage of skilled CNC machine operators.
Cobots Online develop industrial cobots that automate and streamline repetitive industrial processes, enabling production departments to assign staff members to more critical tasks. A machine tending cobot releases existing operators from repetitive machine operations, allowing them to focus on more dexterous, skilful and profitable tasks.
ALM Engineering Solutions chose Cobots Online as they had a proven track record in overcoming the technical difficulties encountered in a high mix / low volume machine shop. Cobots Online’s engineers understood CNC machining and the specific challenges encountered in a machine tending “lights out” operation.
Staff shortage, due to a combination of absence with covid and lack of skilled CNC machines operators, meant ALM Engineering Solutions’ Fanus Robo Drill was unable to run consistently across a two-shift operation. They needed something compatible with their Fanus Robo Drill in order to undertake repetitive tasks and speed up production.
ALM Engineering Solutions had initial concerns about the use of cobots and needed a solution their staff were confident to work with. Cobots Online were able to provide answers and working examples to alleviate any fears.
They reassured ALM Engineering Solutions that cobots taking on repetitive tasks would solve their labour shortages and as they are intuitive to use, even staff without cobot experience could easily program and operate the technology.
Cobots Online proposed one of their CoboTend65 machine tending solutions fitted with a collaborative UR10e Cobot. This mobile unit could be easily and quickly moved from one machine or process to another, minimising downtime between set up and machine running time.
Cobots Online worked closely with ALM Engineering Solutions to provide a full cobots solution which can maintain a constant output for the duration of each batch. When the shifts end at midnight, the machine continues to operate as cobots can run “lights out”. ALM Engineering Solutions were able to gain additional machining time at a lower cost as the factory does not require lighting during these hours. Production capacity improved 53%, increasing from 15 hours per day to 23 hours per day.
Each job typically takes less than 15 minutes to set up, then the cobot runs the process automatically. ALM Engineering Solutions reported that one of their jobs had gone from 6 hours operator time to just 15 minutes for the initial set up. This released their operator for 5 hours and 45 minutes to carry out other work simultaneously.
The CoboTend solution typically runs for 70 hours per week unmanned, which is the equivalent of 2.25 operators working for 39 hours per week at 80% efficiency. With the automation of basic, repetitive tasks, ALM Engineering Solutions’ valued work force is freed up to work on high value, more profitable work. The solution provided by Cobots Online helped to solve labour shortages and increase productivity.
“Cobots Online have supported ALM Engineering Solutions from the initial idea through to the implementation and commissioning stages. Their knowledge, training and on-going support after the installation have been excellent. The finished result does exactly as they’d promised.” Aaron Walford, Production Manager ALM Engineering Solutions