The 500th Flexible Pallet Container – An Idea Scribbled on a Piece of Paper in 2000 became a Hit Product
An idea of an FMS system built into a shipping container, born in 2000 during strategy days, is a success story in factory automation. The story of the container officially known as Fastems Flexible Pallet Container began with a prototype that was built into an actual shipping container in Fastems’ Tampere factory. ”The prototype made from the shipping container looked really terrible, as we had to for example make openings in it with an angle grinder for the loading station. We gave up the actual shipping container and angle grinding and replaced them with our own frame, but the idea of an FMS in the size of a container remained,” says Bruno Iso-Kivijärvi, one of the original members of the container development team with a career spanning over 40 years. The idea was good and the first functioning Fastems FPC was introduced at EMO trade show in Hannover in fall 2001, only one year after the idea was born.
October 2016 was time to celebrate as the 500th “container” was manufactured. The original idea of the container, scribbled on a bit of paper back in 2000, has of course evolved over the years, but the basic idea remains the same: FMS that fits in a small space and is fast and easy to implement. ”Originally, the loading stations turned inside the container during shipping. Now they are separate parts with fancy LED lights. The basic structure of the stacker crane has remained more or less the same. There have never been any real issues with the production,” says Bruno Iso-Kivijärvi, who retired at the same time as the 500th container was manufactured. As an automation investment, Fastems FPC is in a class of its own and the payback period is at its best less than a year. It’s no wonder that several manufacturers of machine tools have made Fastems FPC the automation solution offered with their machining centers.
Mr Harri Lehtinen gave a small speach during the celebration of the 500th flexible pallet container (subtitles in English). You can see the stacker crane bring the cake at 1 min 25 s.
In the beginning, Fastems FPC was developed by a team of two designers and two assemblers. Currently the product has its own organization behind it in the Fastems’ Tampere factory, and during the best year up to 100 Fastems FPCs were manufactured and shipped all over the world. Fastems FPCs have been delivered to different continents – everywhere from Japan to Africa. They have been connected to machine tools of various brands. The benefit of a modular solution like this is the fast setup – in fact, Fastems FPC can be ready for production with a client within just two days.
There are currently five different models of Fastems FPC for different-sized loads and the modular system is expandable up to the size of three containers. In 15 years, Fastems FPC has evolved from a meager shipping container to an elegant production automation product. The biggest advancement, however, has been made on the software side. Fastems FPC utilizes Fastems’ MMS5 software, which supports modern IoT cloud services, MTConnect and other possibilities brought in by Internet 4.0. MMS5’s production-order-based approach provides an effective way to manage changes in production and orders. The software interface is browser-based and HTML5-based, which makes it terminal-independent and easy to set up.
Fastems Flexible Pallet Container is an innovation and a success story. It continues to be a highly competitive solution, helping companies from small to large improve their profitability and increase their production efficiency. In 2016, it is again one of the best-selling automation solutions from Fastems, and there is no end to its success in sight. Fastems FPC and its software are being developed constantly.
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