Shortage of staff makes company get hold of robots
The turnover of Fijn Mekaniek Nelissen grows at an average of 10% per year, so it always needs more and more machines and men. However, finding people who are sufficiently motivated to learn this high technology job looks like an insurmountable problem.
The erroneous perception of the profession of a CNC operator is, however, disastrous for young people who aspire for a job in the industry. And the consequence of the low inflow of students in the technical training is also a low outflow. Recruiting someone from the low outflow, who is motivated as well as intelligent and can work pro-actively and independently, is an almost impossible task. Paul Nelissen: "It takes two to five years before I can give work to a CNC operator, who I know will perform his work completely independently. And I am talking about someone with a technical education.
Finding people is not the only problem. Later on, it is important to keep the operator's job fun and, above all, challenging. "In machining, the pleasure lies in linking the theory to practice through the creation of a workpiece. For a seasoned operator, the challenge also lies in setting up the machine. When that is behind you and the actual production starts, the fun is gone. What follows is the loading and unloading of the machine.”
Expansion: gripper magazine, change system and CNC machines
The system can be further equipped with a gripper magazine and an automatic quick change system for complete grippers. The IRS-CW can also be extended by a simple setup system for automatic loading and unloading of axes. It is important to know that the IRS-CW with FANUC can be adapted for almost all old and new CNC machines.
Placement of the automated system and trainin
The placement of this system requires two days and is followed up by training for one day, devoted for learning the robot controls. In practice, the learning is much less time-consuming. The operator usually learns up the controls after a couple of hours on the job.
Safety: from sliding doors to a peripheral laser scanner
Presently the described setup is protected by a transparent Troax closure with two secure sliding doors. The disadvantage is that this solution takes a lot space. It is however perfectly possible - and perhaps more important, also conforming to the new robot standard - to leave out this closure, if a peripheral laser scanner is installed on the robot. This scanner continuously scans the surrounding area and determines whether a detected movement will penetrate the programmed path of the robot arm. If so, the system will delay the movement and, if necessary, stop it.
The placement of the robot and the stacker, by the way, need not be final. At Fijn Mekaniek Nelissen, Robojob is currently studying the possibility of making the robot and the stacks mobile, so that the setup can also be used for other machines.
Cost price of a robot: 3 to 8 euros per hour
The price tag is not min. Depending on the chosen robot type and safety, the investment would be between 50 and 120,000 Euro. The question is thus to weigh the cost of the automation against the yield. We will then deduct an average wage cost of 38 Euro. As a comparison, the cost price of a comparable setup varies between 3 and 8 Euro per hour, at least as long as the robot is not written off. Thereafter you only pay for the electrical consumption.
Paul Nelissen: "Once set, the robot does its work; it is never sick or tired, works on weekends... and if the automation is restarted, the operator moves to what is essentially his job: programming and setting CNC machine." The business manager is clearly won over by this system. "Soon there will be a new machine, with a robot, that much is certain. It cannot be any other way, because today it is a question of automate or relocate. And I have no interest in the latter."
The love and the passion for a perfect metal piece
Fijn Mekaniek Nelissen is a company that specializes in machining on CNC machines. The techniques used are turning, milling and wire EDM. The customer base is really varied. The company thus not only has several machine manufacturers among its clientèle, but also earned some reputation in the automotive and the aircraft industry. Besides these sectors, Fijn Mekaniek Nelissen also undertakes emergency repairs, something which perfectly connects to the high flexibility that characterizes the company.
Paul Nelissen started working on his own in 1990, after working as a foreman for a number of years. He started with one CNC turning and milling machine. As he himself says: "In the beginning, it is 50% hard work and 50% luck." And luck was on his side; the young enterprise soon expanded to what it is today. Undoubtedly, the training as accountant which the businessman had before entering the metal industry has also ensured a sound financial attitude.
But what best typifies him and his company is the love and the passion for a perfect workpiece, complying with the client's specifications. "It may not seem special, but making a finished piece from a metal block, which perfectly fits the client's requirements is something wonderful."