The weekend before the Christmas holidays, the Steel Service Center of the Funen steel supplier received a Christmas present, or at least that is what passers-by were tempted to believe, because when NLT Automation delivered the new portal robot, it was concealed on the bed of a truck under what looked like a huge layer of wrapping paper.
The wrapping paper concealed an entire robot cell and its housing. “We had been looking forward to this day and had prepared the premises by breaking up the floor to make room for it. They arrived exactly as agreed, and it didn’t take more than five hours to set up the entire cell in its new space,” says Martin Helle, Technical Manager, Ib Andresen Industri.
Since then, Ib Andresen Industri and NLT Automation have been busy trying to get the robot ready to be included in day-to-day operations. Ib Andresen Industri hoped to get the robot into use as early as the beginning of the new year. Therefore, they were also under some time pressure in terms of finishing the programming of the cell and testing it, so operators could be trained.
According to Martin Helle, this hope has already come true: “NLT Automation and our own staff have been incredibly dedicated to preparing the cell. This is undoubtedly what has enabled us to have the slitting line back in operation already.”
Goodbye to lifting 8,000 kg a day!
Manual set-ups of the slitting lines are a physically demanding task for operators, which is why the installation of the new portal robot has been eagerly awaited ever since it was first mentioned as an investment option.
“Whenever we had to set up a line to slit a new coil, we started by removing the slitter shafts from the brackets on the slitter shafts cross-piece and then putting on new ones. All these lifts add up to 1,000 kg and with 7–8 changes in one shift, this totals 8,000 kg in one day. We don’t have to do this any more on this line,” explains one of the operators.
The benefit of the investment is more than ergonomics, as Martin Helle explains: “We eliminate human error in the set-up tasks, as there is always a small risk of error whenever people are involved.”
When asked what will happen to the man-hours saved by the set-up robot, Martin Helle is in no doubt: “We have a bottleneck at the banding machine, which is where the finished split strips are banded and packaged. We can overcome this bottleneck, so the production of slit strips will flow more smoothly.”
The investment is part of Ib Andresen Industri’s strategy to increase automation and improve the work environment for its employees.