Andreas Weber, REGO-FIX Tool Corp., President; Stefan Weber, REGO-FIX AG, VP Marketing/Product Development; and Richard Weber, REGO-FIX AG, President/CEO.
Notice the small footprint of the Okuma turning cell utilizing the top-loading KUKA robot.
Grinding operation outfitted with a REGO-FIX engineered Stï¿½ubli robot cell. This robot cell has been standardized across the grinding operations at REGO-FIX.
REGO-FIX AG recently opened its newly expanded headquarters facility in Tenniken, Switzerland. An additional 75,000 sq.ft. of space is now available for production of toolholders and warehouse operations. The manufacturing area has more than doubled with the opening of this new building. The facility has increased from 53,800 sq.ft. to over 129,000 sq.ft.
"In planning this expansion over two years ago, REGO-FIX decided to boldly move ahead despite the downturn in the economy and the growing fear of an ongoing global crisis," said Richard Weber, REGO-FIX AG President and CEO. "Management explored other options for relocating the facilities, but concluded that expanding the current location in Tenniken, Switzerland, best served the company both now and in the future. In addition, the expanded facility and added space will permit the inclusion of more fully automated processes, providing increased capacity and greater quality control, without adding employees. Production operations currently run 24 hours a day, six days a week."
"With the improved efficiencies in production and newly added warehouse space, REGO-FIX can continue to guarantee its growing customer base that product will be in stock and available for faster delivery to its entire worldwide distribution network. This facility has 6,500 individual bar-coded part number products with 1.3 million parts total in inventory that are ready to ship," said Mr. Weber. "This expansion has also secured REGO-FIX's position as a leader in toolholding systems manufacturing, along with its ongoing commitment to innovation, engineering and the team efforts of its loyal employees. Our sales distribution subsidiaries in the USA and over 50 other countries provide the same level of commitment to offer a high degree of support and service at even the local level."
The expansion by REGO-FIX included the automation of toolholder production. This was done to add more capacity and to optimize production. To realize this goal REGO-FIX has added robotic automation cells to its soft-turning, hard-turning and grinding operations. The goal is to have one robot for each machine, this will be realized within the next year. The highly flexible robotic cells were engineered in-house by REGO-FIX and were designed to be used for any process while keeping set-up times down and allowing quick changeovers.
REGO-FIX has standardized its operations by using KUKA robots and Okuma turning centers for both soft- and hard-turning cell operations and by using Stubli robots and Kellenberger grinders (and a few Studers) for grinding cell operations. "The REGO-FIX Board of Directors have a rule that states: never refurbish old machines, always replace with new machines and technologies," said Mr. Weber. "This has served us well, as an example, we had approximately a 40 percent productivity increase when we added a robot and a new machine."
To maximize floorspace, REGO-FIX is using top-loading KUKA robots for some of its Okuma turning cells, this system has a smaller footprint than a traditional robotic cell. Another innovation for larger part production on certain Okuma turning cells is that REGO-FIX has replaced the traditional vertical-orientation machine loading/unloading systems that take up their fair share of floorspace with a McDonalds' restaurant-inspired raw parts stacked gravity feeding system along with a robot. The robot picks up the raw part blanks from the stacked (and angled) system and the next raw part rolls into place, awaiting pickup, this allows a significantly higher number of parts to be loaded up in the cell versus the previous system. For smaller part production LNS barfeeders are coupled with the Okuma turning centers.
REGO-FIX production operations currently run three shifts, 24 hours a day, six days a week. Employees are trained on product lines with cross-training for other products and processes, ie - they are trained on the Okuma turning centers and Kellenberger grinders and then can move to help where needed. With the addition of the robotic cells, employees went from changing out workpieces to now being responsible for quality control and preparing the next job, thus reducing setup times and reducing labor costs while increasing quality. "Quality is the highest goal," said Mr. Weber. "Production employees are all trained to use the Mitutoyo CMM on the plant floor." In addition, employees use several Hommel Etamic opticline C305 optical profile measuring systems that are also located on the plant floor within the product group cells. Using these systems ensures traceability as every item has a lot number that is laser-etched on the parts. In-process measuring is also performed in the robotic cells and in the machines, ie - a Renishaw OMI-2 is used on the Okuma turning cells.
With the expansion, REGO-FIX has increased its R&D staff to 10 people. Prototype work is done in the machine shop that also is used for the apprenticeship program.
The expanded REGO-FIX facility features cost-saving, sustainable innovations that also offer a healthy working environment. The two well-lit (1,000 Lux) production floors feature Donaldson Torit air-handling systems that exchange the air 7 times per hour. Waste air and heat are recovered and used for both facility heating and hot water heating. The facility is also air-conditioned, this is rare in Switzerland. Rainwater is collected from the soil-planted roof in a 13,000 gallon container and then used for toilet flushing. For heating, the previous oil-fired system has been replaced with a wood pellet heating system. This is a huge cost savings area as the wood is from Switzerland and the oil is not. The facility's windows use the latest insulation technology, triplex vitrification.
New products from REGO-FIX include the PG6 and the secuRgrip. Suitable for the aerospace, automotive, medical and watch industries, the REGO-FIX slim-nose powRgrip 6 toolholder, or PG6, has a minimal outside diameter of 0.4" (10 mm), as well as a clamping diameter ranging from 0.008" to 0.125" (0.2 mm to 3.175 mm). Due to its small, slim design, the PG6 provides less tool interference, easily machines tight pockets and delivers high levels of productivity, the company said. The PG6 has a runout accuracy of < 3 m and is designed to provide quick, simple and safe tool changes. The secuRgrip is a mechanical tool-locking system for heavy-duty milling for aerospace and energy applications.
REGO-FIX is a traditional Swiss company, founded in Reigoldswil by Fritz Weber as a one man business in 1950. In 2006, his three sons assumed the operations of the company, which has now grown to over 200 employees.
For more information contact:
Bill Obras, VP of Sales
David McHenry, Product Engineer
REGO-FIX Tool Corp.
7752 Moller Rd.
Indianapolis, IN 46268