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System 3R Automation Cuts Shop's Lead Time

When Ruedi Jossi took over as Director of Brem AG, a job shop that specializes in short runs of complex components for customers primarily from the medical technology, automotive, telecommunication and advanced automation sectors, he had a vision of what he wanted to achieve. That vision now permeates the whole company and is one that mirrors the Japanese 5S method: sort, shine, set in place, systemize and standardize.

Jossi summarizes it in a single word-transparency-and cites examples such as the shop's machines that are arranged in islands so that, at a glance, anyone can see exactly what is happening in each and every production group. In the shop's preparation zone, all run orders are displayed in order of priority so that operators can quickly see what has to be done. There are no doors on tool cabinets so with a single glance, operators can find exactly what they need and everything is sorted out of the way when it is not being used.

Brem AG dates back from the first half of the 20th century with a consistent reputation for precision. However, this has not been enough for today's climate of fierce competition. Rapid delivery is now also a top requirement, and to meet those tight turnaround times, the shop would run machines nights and weekends. But doing so was not enough, so the shop turned to automation.

The shop has just over 250 customers, and the components it produces are often destined for test and laboratory equipment used in research and development. The 10 largest of these customers account for over half the shop's invoicing. Aluminum and high-quality steel make up 80% of the jobs from those large customers, and 70% of spindle time for those jobs is spent milling.

"The number of spindle hours we get from our machines is of the greatest significance for our operations," said Jossi. "To ensure shorter lead times and faster deliveries, we had to work nights. Not to put too fine a point on it, the choice was between automation or stagnation. However, convincing all our staff of the advantages of automation was not straightforward. It had to be shown that rather than threatening their jobs, automation was a means to retaining them."

Brem installed an automatic production cell consisting of a 5-axis milling machine paired with WorkMaster automation from System 3R. And with an average machining time of only eight minutes per component, the shop opted for a large pallet magazine capacity-170 positions for three pallet sizes (70, 120 and 240 mm)-with the larger pallets equipped with jigs or vises.

According to Dario Zancanaro, Manager, GF Machining Solutions' System 3R automation was surprisingly easy to get up and running and producing. "We had absolutely no experience with palletization," he said. "Implementation of all the NC programs went without problems thanks to the excellent support from System 3R. They willingly shared all their great experience with production technology and automation."

He went on to say that system installation was easy. "After only four weeks, we were getting 18 hours per day out of the cell. And that is not all," he added. "We recently ran a job in the cell that previously, in one of our conventional machines, took two weeks. It now takes only two days."

Jossi said that the shop chose GF Machining Solutions' System 3R GPS pallets "because they were far better value for the money than their competitors, especially in terms of quality and robustness. As a job shop, our reliance on pallets is vital as we stock all our fixtures on them," he said.

For more information contact:

GF Machining Solutions LLC

560 Bond St.

Lincolnshire, IL 60069-4224


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