EMEX - Engineering, Machinery & Electronics Exhibition
Celebrating its 40th Anniversary!
Trade shows play a critical role in building businesses across the country. EMEX 2021 is going full steam ahead. Together we can kickstart our economy.
Don't miss the free seminar program including Callaghan Innovation's Manufacturing Futures on Day 2
Callaghan Innovation Workshops
Four workshops to choose from. Pre-registration is mandatory (17 February)
Learn how to Design for Additive Manufacturing
Olaf Diegel presents a 2 day DfAM Course (16-17 February)
INDUSTRY MOURN: MECHANICAL, ENGINEERING AND ROLLFORMING “GENIUS”
Angus (Gus) A.J Robertson passes away.
Recently a very special member of the engineering fraternity passed away…. this is an industry’s ode to ‘Gus’.
In 1993, Angus (Gus) A.J. Robertson started his rollforming business Angus Robertson Mechanical (ARM) in rural Eyrewell on a farm with shingle road access in the car garage. Things progressed quickly with demand for our quality machines as his reputation and skills grew as did the staff numbers.
A couple of years later he took over an old implement shed before building a fitting and fabrication factories. In those days all manual mills and lathes were used to produce rollforming machines to tight tolerances and specifications. The site grew, as did services and a sealed road to the gate. The Mt Thomas internet connection boosted connectivity but cell phone reception remains a hassle.
The area of Eyrewell grew quickly alongside the business, and many 50-acre blocks have now been split up into 10 acre lots. Trucks come and go on a daily basis dropping of steel or picking up any of the various machines for delivery around the country or the world.
Gus philosophy was clear: keep it simple and make it work. He believed that “if you make machines that make customers money they will come back and order more.” Orders grew as did the complexity of operations. He was a tough but fair boss who was practical and pragmatic with his approach. He would ensure that his design engineers did their own calculations first (and research the work of others second) before embarking on the design process. Gus preferred to draw 2D; he was a prolific designer with an eye for detail. He had a love of learning but never got his head around 3D drawing.
Gus spoke with pride when he ordered his first CNC lathe, which vastly improved the speed of production. A CNC mill followed soon after. Every purchase was clearly thought out to improve production and the quality of rollformers built. Now, ARM’s modest factories have three CNC mills and three CNC lathes along with NC, cylindrical and surface grinders, wire-cutting, manual mills and lathes that are used less as the years go on.
He loved machines from an early age and always wanted to know how they worked and behaved, a passion that he honed throughout his 80 years. Customers would come to Gus with a problem, seeking a mechanical solution that would be reliable and perform for the long term. He would provide that with enthusiasm to get it right for the client big or small. He didn’t believe in patents but would vigorously defend his intellectual property of designs and never provide drawings believing that it was more productive to innovate and keep ahead of the field that way.
One of Gus’ highlights was the purchase of an old German Naxos-Union cylindrical grinder in 1995. It was built in Germany in 1939 and commissioned in 1941, so it fought against us, and it is still as reliable and accurate as any grinder made today.
As technology advanced so did the demand for precision cutting from the shears that we made. Wire cutters were purchased to make the job of cutting precision shears easier. Surface grinding to get tool steel straight and true is essential to AGM’s business, as is an eye for detail. Something he installed in all apprentices and tradesmen alike.
The need for automation and control followed technological advances. A friend from the DSIR, (where Gus used to be chief engineer) used to write software for AGM, and still does. We have taken on mechatronics engineers to integrate safety with machine controls as the industry’s safety needs grew. Controlling, programming and automation remain a core focus of the ideology Gus created. AGM were the first to offer hands-free coil loading rollformers to keep operators safe.
Gus celebrated the fact that Angus Robertson Mechanical machines were New Zealand made and produced on site. He aimed to produce as much as possible in-house and use minimal brought in components. He cut gears, mill, lathe and grind everything on site. AGM still gets most heat treatment for long run nitriding completed off site and castings are made in Canterbury, as is chroming and powder coating. This means that when we support our local industry in a time when increasingly more is imported from China. He truly believed that AGM needed to be at the forefront of innovation so he developed a world first: balloon shafts for slitting steel to lock knives. He also created the first purlin mill made from one sheet with a kind of Pittsburgh lock seam into a rectangular box purling 540X125mm.
This Kiwi farmer and mechanical engineer would approach problems with a can-do attitude that was instilled in his generation. This attitude is still reflected in the designers and tradesmen taught at ARM. Believing in these skills to be essential in the Kiwi workforce he trained almost all his staff, taking them through apprenticeships so these skills would not be lost. He would often give kids that schooling system had lost faith in a chance, and he would make bloody good tradesmen out of them. ARM has lost a lot of staff over the years to life overseas, but they often return to work for ARM. Gus would boast that he was training three of the five mechanical apprentices in the South Island in the 1990s.
Gus’ son, Seamus Robertson, came home four years ago to take over the business, ensure the legacy continues and to assist him through the painful process of prostrate cancer treatment. Gus was very happily married for 51 years, but his wife passed shortly before Seamus’ return. Gus was stoic whilst upset but continued to devote his time to rollformers up to the day he died on May 25, 2020.
Research and development are a cornerstone of Gus’ philosophy, something that has continued with Seamus. ARM in association with NZ Steel have developed a laser-based solution to burn back the edge of the Dridex coating roofing. Dridex is a anti-condensation fleece that is applied to the underside of roofing material. By burning back the edge of the sheet, the chance of water wicking back is eliminated. This is just one example of the many innovations that ARM is renowned for in the roofing industry. Often ARM gets projects that have a significant technical stretch that competitors would struggle to deliver upon.
Gus leaves a long legacy in the rollforming community. He was a long-standing sponsor of the Metal Roofing Manufacturers Association. Rollforming machines made when he worked at Ward Engineering (1961to1971) are still in production, as is every machine that he made in the last 27 years at various sites around New Zealand, Australia and South East Asia and as far afield as Ghana and Algeria.
Angus Robertson Mechanical continues today with the same attention to detail and quality engineering that Gus lived for whilst being industry leaders in innovation and safety. Continued research and development benefits clients across the Southern Hemisphere and maintains our world leading reputation for mechanical engineering excellence and industry-leading, coil-processing solutions. Gus’ humour and occasional wobbly will be missed. New Zealand has lost a great mechanical engineer but his legacy lives on. Our business and country are greater for that.
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BLAZING A TRAIL WORKSHOP IN THE SHEET METAL MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY
Replika Manufacturing has built a reputation for being early adopters of the latest technology over the past 40 plus years. So, when word got out about the Trumpf TruMatic 6000, it was a no-brainer. It was time to upgrade.
Back in the 1990’s, the Penrose-based company was the first production jobbing shop in New Zealand to purchase a high-power CO2 Laser cutting machine. This was closely followed by the L5030 Trumpf Fibre Laser a few years later and then the Trumpf Trulaser 5020 Robotic Laser Welder, which is still the only one in the country.
“We are known in the industry for having the most recent technology and we like to keep on top of the latest trends to make sure we can provide our customers with the best solutions,” says manager Tony Plowman.
The TruMatic 6000 is a fully automated combination punch / laser machine. Not only does it have a powerful punching head and laser which guarantee high productivity, it is a large format model with 3000 x 1500 standard working range which allows optimum sheet nesting and waste minimisation.
“We have got both laser cutting and punching technology already, but in many instances, we would have to do both processes separately. We would cut it out on the laser machine, transfer it to the punch and then punch it. Now we can do both of those processes in the same machine,” says Tony. Roll forming and tapping technologies are also available.
“It’s a huge time saver for us and the machine is also automated which makes a big difference as well in terms of cost efficiency.
“There will be faster turnaround for our customers, we’ll be able to get the jobs done quicker and it’ll be a cost saving for them as well.
“It runs faster and doesn’t need to have anyone watching it or controlling it,” says Tony.
The team at Replika have always been loyal Trumpf customers and believe they offer the best reliability and are the most ahead in terms of technology.
“We think they are the best manufacturer of machinery for this industry and they are definitely, if not the top, one of the top manufacturers in the world.”
With years of knowledge and experience across the sheet metal component manufacturing industry, the company has developed a reputation for high quality production, and for friendly customer service that takes customers’ requirements very seriously.
“It’s fantastic to see [the TruMatic 6000]working,” says Tony. “We are very happy to be able to have this technology and we’re looking forward to the next advance.”
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CREAFORM ANNOUNCES THE RELEASE OF THE BRAND-NEW – ‘METRASCAN BLACK’
Creaform, described as a worldwide leader in portable and automated 3D measurement solutions, has announced the release of the latest version of the MetraScan 3D lineup, the company’s advanced optical CMM scanner designed specifically to perform metrology-grade 3D measurements and inspections — right on the production floor.
As the fastest and most accurate portable optical CMM scanner, the MetraScan Black can be seamlessly integrated in any quality control, quality assurance, inspection, MRO, or reverse engineering workflow and operated by users of any skill level in any type of environment.
The MetraScan Black dimensional metrology system has been developed to measure complex parts and assemblies from an array of industries and manufacturing processes, such as automobile, aeronautics, power generation, heavy industry, metal casting, metal forging, sheet metal, plastic injection, composites, etc.
Featuring unmatched performance and speed for optimised 3D measurements:
• 4X faster: Featuring 15 blue laser crosses for larger scanning area that take up to 1,800,000 measurements per second and live meshing, ultimately cutting down the time between acquisition and workable files.
• 4X resolution: MetraScan Black features a measurement resolution of 0.025 mm (0.0009 in) to generate highly detailed scans of any object.
• More accurate and traceable measurements: High accuracy of 0.025mm, based on VDI/VDE 2634 part 3 standard and tested in a ISO 17025 accredited laboratory, ensures complete reliability and full traceability to international standards.
• Shop floor accuracy: The MetraScan Black features a unique and patented dynamic referencing that compensates for environment instabilities.
• Maximum versatility: Masters complex, shiny and highly detailed parts
• No warm-up time: Operators can be up-and-running in minutes.
• Touch probing capability: When paired with the HandyProbe, the MetraScan Black lets users harness the power of both 3D scanning and probing for a complete, streamlined inspection process.
• Available in black and black/elite: Customers can choose from two models based on their needs: speed, part complexity, accuracy, etc.
“Today’s manufacturers are facing tremendous challenges. They are under increased pressure to accelerate their time to market in order to remain competitive on the global scale. Product quality issues impact scrap rate, production ramp-up, production rate, and downtime, ultimately affecting production costs and overall profitability. Manufacturers need to rely on innovative 3D measurement technologies, like the MetraScan 3D, in order to refine their product development and quality control processes,” says Guillaume Bull, product manager at Creaform.“This new version of the MetraScan 3D takes dimensional measurement speed, accuracy and versatility to a whole new level. We believe manufacturers will appreciate its performance within their workflows.”
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FLEXIBILITY AND REDEPLOYMENT IN TIMES OF CRISIS: COBOTS VS COVID-19
Collaborative robots, fondly known as cobots, are emerging as a force for good in the ongoing battle against COVID-19.
Whether they are disinfecting and sanitising, conducting COVID-19 tests, helping to manufacture Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) or ramping up respirator production, cobots can work alongside humans safely or on their own. They are the answer to accelerating repetitive tasks in the manufacturing environment while simultaneously addressing concerns around social distancing and the safety of employees.
Industry pioneers, Universal Robots have noted an uptake in the demand for its cobots in various industries across the globe. “Locally”, says Darrell Adams, head of Southeast Asia Oceania for Universal Robots, “the pandemic has seen many companies shifting towards robotic technology to help ramp up production”.
“As the fastest growing sector in the robotics industry, cobots are easy to program and deploy remotely. Viewed as a ‘niche’ product in the past, cobots are now the fastest growing segment in the industrial robotics sector. By 2025, cobots are expected to jump from niche status to thoroughly mainstream, accounting for approximately 34% of global robot spend,” he says.
Disinfecting with Cobots
The pandemic has seen massive increase in demand for effective deep cleaning and disinfection technologies that do not involve direct human contact with potentially infected areas.
In mid-April, researchers at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore unveiled the eXtremeDisinfection roBOT (XDBOT), which comprises a UR5 cobot fitted with an electrostatic spray nozzle all mounted on a mobile platform.
Researchers programmed the cobot to mimic human hand movements so that it can get into hard-to-reach areas such as under beds and tables – a feature that has been missing from traditional disinfection robots that are not as dexterous.
“These cobots are capable of running for four hours straight on a single charge and has been successfully tested in public areas on the NTU campus. The team is now preparing to trial this technology at local public hospitals”.
Adams notes that the UR5 cobot with its built-in safety features can work safely and collaboratively with humans too.
COVID-19 testing with Cobots
COVID-19 has also resulted in unprecedented demand for medical testing. In response to this extraordinary demand, Universal Robots co-founder, Esben Østergaard turned his creative energies to the design and development of the world’s first autonomous throat swabbing robot launched by Lifeline Robotics, a company he co-founded with the Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Institute at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU).
This robot uses UR3 cobot arms fitted with a custom 3D-printed end-effector. The process is simplicity itself, beginning with the patient scanning their ID card. Right away, the robot prepares a sample kit, consisting of a container with a printed ID-label and it picks up the swab. Then, using its built-in vision system, the robot identifies the right points to swab in the patient’s throat. As soon as the swab process is complete, the bot places the sample in a jar and screws on the lid. The jar is then sent to a lab for analysis.
“The process takes around seven minutes and the swab takes just 25 seconds,” adds Adams.
Meanwhile in Houston, Texas-based portable detection manufacturer, DetectaChem unveiled a unique smartphone-based COVID-19 testing solution in late May. The company’s at-home, low cost COVID-19 test provides results via smart phone in just 15-30 minutes.
Ventilator manufacturing with Cobots
Cobots inherent flexibility helps to support the rapid development and deployment of automation, a feature that really comes to the fore in times of crisis. In March, for example, the Spanish car manufacturer SEAT decided to transform one of its assembly lines from its original automotive role to ventilator production. The auto giant installed a UR10e at the end of the line to perform a quality check of the locking mechanism on the unit’s control box.
PPE production with cobots
Based in Ontario, Canada, Hannafin Automation looked to a UR5 cobot to tend the entire 3D printing cycle of face shields. The cobot picked up a Cognex vision camera to inspect the completion of each print. When the print is done, the cobot picks it up, places it in a bin, and presses the printer’s touch screen to start a new cycle.
Each printer makes 25 face shields per day and these are donated to local police fire stations, paramedics, and nursing homes.
How cobots can assist locally
Adams says that as the local economy starts to ramp up again, there is an ongoing call by government for more local manufacturing to take place.
“More and more, the country is looking to local, sustainable and cost-effective manufacturing practices to help reaccelerate the sector.
“Sometimes overlooked, cobots seek to add value in the business and allows employees to focus on strategic tasks rather than repetitive and mundane tasks. We have seen many companies putting flexi hours into place, here, cobots can assist during the downtime and can work continuously to ensure ongoing productivity.”
Find out more
Universal Robots will be hosting regular webinars to help customers get started with cobots and explore automation opportunities. Support, service and maintenance are available locally, as well as training offerings through its online UR Academy, global network of Authorised Training Centres, and extensive UR+ ecosystem.
For more info: Design Energy 03 943 2143, email@example.com
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TREOTHAM MERGES WITH AUTOMATION EQUIPMENT TO BETTER SERVE MARKET
Treotham New Zealand has announced the merger of its business operations to offer customers even more support as well as a larger range of products to provide a more complete solution.
Treotham has acquired the Automation Equipment assets, staff and customer contacts and the merged business will operate under Treotham Automation.
Treotham New Zealand, established in 2010, is described as a leading supplier of high-quality electrical components and products to a wide range of industrial markets. Its years of experience in industrial automation and long-term partnerships with key suppliers including igus, Kabeltec, PMA, Wittenstein and more, provide a market leading position.
“Automation Equipment offers an exciting opportunity for Treotham to strengthen and expand its service offering in the industrial automation market,” says Alec Stanley, national sales manager of Treotham NZ. “With their range of high-quality products and skilled staff, the acquisition of Automation Equipment supports Treotham’s strategy to provide customers with a total solution throughout the New Zealand market.”
Wendy Garrett, manager of Automation Equipment says:“This is a very positive change for all our customers across New Zealand, expanding their product selection and support available to them.”
Wendy will join Treotham as business development manager.
The expanded business will operate out of both Auckland and Hamilton, ‘making it even more convenient for customers”. With the introduction of the new range of products from suppliers such as Schmalz (vacuum technology), Pneumax (pneumatics), Interroll (conveyor components) and others, Treotham Automation is now able to offer customers across New Zealand a more complete solution.
With their increased support and engineering staff, Treotham and Automation Equipment are “able to combine their years of experience to offer even better customer service and greater opportunity for technical visits enabling stronger engineering support.”
The merger is effective from the 1st of August.
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BIG KIWI BUS OPERATOR CHOOSES SIEMENS TO GO GREEN
Siemens to supply eBus charging infrastructure to one of New Zealand’s largest bus operators
One of New Zealand’s largest bus operators Go Bus has chosen electric charging infrastructure from global technology giant Siemens to power 34 buses at depots in Christchurch and Auckland.
The charging infrastructure will support 25 electric buses in Christchurch, the city’s first large-scale electric bus fleet and nine buses in Auckland that will operate on a new electric airport link. The operations are scheduled to start in early 2021.
The ‘Sicharge UC eBus’ charging infrastructure will help New Zealand’s sustainability goals as the country looks to electrification of the transport sector to reduce carbon footprint. The city of Auckland, for example, aims to have a full zero emission bus fleet by 2040. In addition to this recent win, Siemens has had a history of helping modernise New Zealand’s infrastructure and making it more sustainable, having worked with KiwiRail on the electrification and re–signalling of Auckland’s urban rail network.
“As a national bus operator, Go Bus needs to be agile and adapt to many fast-moving changes when transitioning to electric bus transport,” says Calum Haslop, CEO of Go Bus. “It’s also important that any investments we make now, take into account rapid advances in battery technology and digitalization. Siemens’ independent charging infrastructure and management software provides us with the most future-proof solutions and flexibility.”
The Siemens Sicharge UC range grants bus operators optimal flexibility when planning electric bus depots, by providing highly efficient infrastructure that is designed to be future proofed against rapid advances in battery technology, as well as enable bus operators to economically expand charging infrastructure with up to five dispensers plus a pantograph per charging centre.
Paul Ravlich, CEO of Siemens New Zealand says, “This is good for Siemens and good for New Zealand. It’s great to see our technology play a crucial role in the low carbon future of my country. From how energy is sourced, stored and distributed to facilitating the movement of people in our cities, since the 1800’s Siemens’ technology has supported several critical infrastructure projects in New Zealand. We’re excited to keep looking forward and help guide the country to a more sustainable future.”
The Go Bus project demonstrates the advantage of Siemens’ vehicle-agnostic charging infrastructure, which will integrate with eBuses from both Chinese OEM Yutong and local New Zealand OEM Global Bus Ventures, to deliver future-proofed charging solutions.
The reporting and monitoring function of Siemens’ Charging Management Software will enable Go Bus to centrally monitor all charging infrastructure across two cities and easily report on key metrics including electricity savings. Smart management functionality will also enable Go Bus to schedule charging to take advantage to lower overnight tariffs while ensuring that individual buses have reached the desired state of charge by the time they are needed for the next day’s operations.
SECRET TO ONTRAK ENGINEERING’S EXPORT SUCCESS
Born and bred in Australia, Ontrak Engineering believes it has set the industry standard for the past 20 years.
The company specialises in the design and manufacture of heavy-duty mining machinery and equipment and most recently added services such as feeder rentals and electrical engineering to its growing portfolio.
Due to the mining downturn on local shores, Ontrak Engineering looked across borders to help sustain its business through the export trade.
“Our first export customer in India was introduced to us by a local supplier with whom we have a great relationship with. India had an emerging coal market to help service their power and electricity requirements, and we were brought on board to assist with underground flameproof feeder breakers,” says Steve Lewry, managing director for Ontrak Engineering.
“Closer to home, we received an enquiry for assistance on an open cast mine in Indonesia. This was a new development and to date, around 4.5million tonnes of coal has been processed in just twelve months – without any breakdowns”.
Competing on an international scale
Steve believes that relationships with its partners is vital to the company’s export success.
“While the Australian labour rate is exceptionally high, we look to strong partnerships, service and adaptability to help us compete internationally,” says Steve.
Steve believes that part of their success lies in their ‘can do’ attitude. “Say you can do it and do it properly the first time”.
To enter the international realm, Ontrak Engineering took on a fierce competitor that had owned the market for over 35 years. Ontrak proved their capabilities to the customer by delivering a product based on good engineering practices, quality parts and backed by solid support and technical expertise.
Ontrak Engineering / Bonfiglioli: 14 years of partnership and counting
Ontrak builds its business on relationships – and this rings true for their suppliers as well.
“In 2006, we formed a relationship with Bonfiglioli. Initially, I was impressed by their response time and design ability to assist us in developing the perfect solution for our customers,” says Steve.
“The relationship is built on service and trust. Their products such as the HDO series, A series bevel helical gearmotors, and 700 series track drives, backed by their engineering and global footprint is unbeatable. They’re also able to service our export customers around the world due to their global presence – this is a really great selling point”.
Alex Kolc, sales engineer for Bonfiglioli seconds this saying that the company’s ongoing, long-standing relationship with Ontrak Engineering is invaluable. “We work well together and always strive for customer satisfaction. Our companies share the same values, and this stands us in good stead”.
Locally, Bonfiglioli custom-designed a range of products to suit Ontrak’s business needs.
“We engineered an Alignment Free Drive (AFD) bell housing and low-speed hollow spline shafts in conjunction with HSS clutch coupling supplied by a local supplier. This provides an extensive level of gearbox safety to the motor and the machine itself in case of overloading,” says Alex.
This heavy-duty product has been assisting Ontrak to achieve their milestones in the mining industry due to its reliability, lifespan, and a nearby service facility.
“In the case of a breakdown or rushed order, gearboxes can be serviced in a matter of hours. There aren’t many competitors in this market who can compete with this level of service.”
For the latest project, Bonfiglioli supplied the HDO series bevel helical gearbox (torque range of 28210Nm) for Ontrak’s breaker feeder drive and A90 bevel helical gearbox (torque range 14000Nm) with hydraulic motor to suit the breaker conveyor. A 700 series track drive to make this complete feeder fully mobile for underground as well as above ground mining applications across various sites within Australia and overseas.
Thanks to this thriving partnership and their ability to deliver quickly, efficiently and within budget, Ontrak Engineering has seen an increase in export sales and the company has plans to expand its product range further.
“Bonfiglioli has been on this journey with us – all the way. You need a supplier who sticks by you through the good and bad and helps you work through those difficult moments. It isn’t always easy but it’s about how you get past the problem that helps to build a successful working relationship,” adds Steve.
NEW CE FOR ENGINEERING NEW ZEALAND
New Engineering New Zealand chief executive Richard Templer
Engineering New Zealand has appointed Richard Templer as the new chief executive.
Templer is currently chief executive of Manawatū District Council and will take up his new role in November.
Engineering New Zealand President Colin Crampton says Templer stood out as a collegial leader who knows how to get things done through others.
“Richard is a seasoned leader who has developed good relationships with mana whenua and key stakeholders, and delivered results for the council’s customers and communities.”
Templer says he’s excited about joining the Engineering New Zealand team.
“2020 has delivered unexpected, major challenges for all of us. Engineering and engineers are playing vital roles in New Zealand’s response. They’re delivering innovative healthcare solutions, new means of keeping communities connected, working on vaccine manufacture and creating new infrastructure.
“As the profession rises to these challenges, we must do so in new, creative, inclusive and diverse ways, as we engineer better lives for all New Zealanders.”
He holds a PhD in engineering and has a background in science and innovation.
He succeeds Susan Freeman-Greene who is moving on to a new role as chief executive of Local Government New Zealand. Engineering New Zealand general manager Helen Davidson will be acting chief executive in the interim.
RELIABLY MEETING ALUMINIUM JOINERY NEEDS
Bespoke aluminium joinery specialist Fisher West Auckland recently invested in an all-in-one Kaeser SXC series compressed air supply system to reliably meet the compressed air requirements of its New Lynn manufacturing facility.
Fisher West Auckland specialises in bespoke aluminium joinery projects. This includes the manufacture of the Fisher Window and Doors product range – New Zealand’s oldest and described as most trusted brand of joinery.
From renovations to replacements to new builds – the Fisher range of windows and doors can be found in properties throughout New Zealand. Crafted for New Zealand’s unique environment, the range includes awning, bifold, casement and sliding windows right through to sliding and hinged door solutions.
MAKING GOOD PRODUCTS RELIES ON GOOD PRODUCTS
An ageing compressed air system recently led Ross Buckingham, director at Fisher West Auckland, to contact Kaeser Compressors for a solution. From the cutting machinery through to the air clamps and hand tools – compressed air is an essential utility required within many stages of the joinery building process at Fisher West Auckland. Buckingham says: “We had heard really good things about the Kaeser product including how reliable they are. We rely on good products to make good products ourselves, so when it came time to replace our ageing compressed air system we wanted to talk to Kaeser.”
Kaeser recommended and subsequently installed an SXC 8 all-in-one compressed air supply system to reliably and efficiently meet Fisher West’s compressed air demand.
AN ALL-IN-ONE SOLUTION
The turnkey and compact SXC series from Kaeser Compressors is a complete compressed air supply system that incorporates a rotary screw compressor, refrigeration dryer and air receiver all within one space-saving compact package.
At the heart of each rotary screw compressor lies the Kaeser rotary screw compressor block featuring Sigma Profile rotors. These have been specially developed by Kaeser and require around 10 to 20% less energy than conventional rotors with the same air delivery capacity. This contributes significantly to the impressive overall efficiency of these systems.
The inclusion of an advanced Sigma Control 2 compressor controller further ensures reliable and efficient operation with maximum availability. With its efficient start-stop control, the Sigma Control 2 delivers optimised compressed air system performance at all times. Moreover, this advanced controller constantly monitors the entire SXC package.
With a maximum sound level of 69 dB(A), the SXC integrated packages are exceptionally quiet making them ideal at point of use. In addition, the SXC has been designed for maximum ease of maintenance. All maintenance and service points are easily accessible by simply lifting away the enclosure.
Now up and running, Buckingham says: “We have been really impressed with the Kaeser compressor – it’s reliable, it’s compact and it’s quiet in operation. Our health and safety system and moreover the safety of our staff is one of our top priorities. By shifting from a piston to a screw compressor, we have been able to reduce the noise considerably and make our work environment so much better to work in. We’re also really happy with the programming features of the Kaeser compressor. We don’t have to worry about turning it on and off – it’s all set up to our requirements. And, the support and customer service from Kaeser from start to finish has been second to none.”
The compact all-in-one SXC series from Kaeser Compressors are available with drive powers of 2.2 to 5.5 kW, and produce flow rates from 0.26 to 0.80 m3/min, designed for pressures up to 15 bar.
CURRENT LANDSCAPE: MANUFACTURERS AND SUPPLIERS NEED TO COLLABORATE
The COVID-19 pandemic saw companies around the world pivot and adapt to their new reality, virtually overnight, but were their automation suppliers able to meet them halfway?
Historically, the manufacturing sector has survived the disruption caused by recessions, supply shortages and geopolitical turmoil by embracing innovation. One key set back in the past was that of suppliers meeting automation needs in a timely manner. Traditional automation can be costly and rigid, taking months and even years to design, develop and deploy. Minor modifications can result in weeks of costly downtime.
Just as customers have had to adapt, so have their suppliers. Universal Robots (UR) VP of operations and supply chain, Martin Kjærbo believes that the company has adapted rapidly by keeping its finger on the pulse. He says that the company’s approach to the crisis will shape Universal Robots going forward.
“The COVID-19 outbreak has caused a major shakeup, no doubt about it. This is a time when the robustness of our supply chain is seriously challenged. Fortunately, we already had a dual-source supply chain in place, which meant that when China started shutting down, we weren’t as vulnerable and had options to get the same parts elsewhere”.
In terms of learnings, Kjærbo says: “I think one of the most significant lessons is the importance of dual-sourcing your supply chain and staying in very close contact with each and every supplier”.
Robotics to accelerate amid COVID-19
A recent article, Analytics Insight stated that many companies are looking to robotics technologies to bolster health and security measures and tap into new opportunities to rescue their businesses.
Viewed as a ‘niche’ product in the past, cobots are now the fastest growing segment in the industrial robotics sector. By 2025, cobots are expected to jump from niche status to thoroughly mainstream, accounting for approximately 34% of global robot spend.
Locally the changes are already taking place.
“We expect to see an uptick in the demand for collaborative robots (or ‘cobots’) over the next few years. Easy to program and operate remotely, these affordable, flexible robots are designed to work in safe collaboration with humans and could be the answer to the social distancing measures that companies need to adhere to,” says Darrell Adams, head of Southeast Asia Oceania for Universal Robots.
Flexibility is an important driver in the global adoption of cobots. In times of uncertainty, they pave the way to business continuity, innovation, and the futureproofing of key processes, explains Adams. “The reduced recruitment costs, consistent quality, enhanced productivity, affordability and flexibility of cobots in the automation space is particularly exciting right now.”
“We have invested significantly in R&D over the years and have developed cobots to provide application assistance across almost every industry. Rather than stopping production in future and under extraordinary circumstances, customers can plan ahead and analyse their key processes to ensure ongoing productivity,” says Adams.
Answering to urgent calls by the market, Universal Robots has launched application-focused hardware and software tools designed to further streamline the deployment process – from anywhere. “These UR+ Application Kits cover an array of applications such as material handling and allows the customer to simplify their deployment process – from ordering and isolation picking applications to palletising and de-palletising”. Cobots are particularly suited to machine tending and dangerous and dull jobs such as CNC machine tending, and welding are only two of the areas where cobots are often deployed.
Cobots deliver in times of crisis
In a recent success story, RCM Industries, a manufacturer of die casting parts with four production plants in the Chicago area of the US, says that they planned for the ‘worst case scenario’ to help them weather the COVID-19 storm.
“Our four plants have been substantially impacted by the pandemic—our operations are down 50-80% right now. Fortunately, several of the customers that we manufacture parts for are deemed “essential,” for their production in parts for the medical, military, and automotive industries,” says RCM Industries’ director of sales and marketing, Mike Higgins.
The company deployed UR cobots in two identical cells where they each tend two dual-spindle CNC lathes in the same cycle. “In terms of following the social distancing guidelines, this proved effective as we only need one roving inspector to oversee the operation of these cells now,” says Higgins.
“In times like these, our automated cells have really been beneficial. The crew that we kept on staff had a broader skillset and were not familiar with the direct operation of the collaborative robots, but since the day-to-day operation of the cobots is fairly easy to learn, handle and monitor, this has not been an issue.”
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