Growth enabled by people, continuous improvement and automated processes
THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN MASKINOPERATÖREN 09/2023 IN SWEDISH
Large increase in customer demand sets new targets for the production capacity. This is what started a long-term development work at a Swedish manufacturer Rototilt Group AB that transforms construction machines into efficient tool carriers. The company develops and manufactures machine attachments, tilt rotators, control systems, tools and technical solutions that enable excavator operators to work with greater safety, precision, and efficiency. In 2015 Rototilt realized that within a few years their own efficiency is at risk – they were going to reach the maximum capacity of their factory. Today, they have a new manufacturing hall where machinery, automation and people work seamlessly together – how was this achieved?
Rototilt’s Production Engineer Erik Englund has a twinkle in his eye when he sums up the various capacity growth strategies used:
“We have been continuously accelerating our production processes so that we can produce more in an efficient and sustainable way. While the number of people, machines and production space have been growing a lot, we have also learnt new strategies to increase our capacity. We are now talking about extending our lights-out production to be able utilize our machining capacity around the clock – as well as utilizing solutions that help us to increase our output per hour.”
“We strongly believe in our creative employees. Their expertise and commitment play the key role in continuous company development and growth. Our philosophy and leadership are therefore based on a positive view of human beings where the full potential of employees is to be utilized. Diversity and equality in the workplace are seen as a strength that contributes to efficiency, profitability, and well-being. This in turn creates a workplace with committed employees who take responsibility and start their own initiatives. By keeping our promises, we help our customers achieve even better results. We want them to experience our core values – precision, added value, and commitment – in all forms of contact they have with us,” tells Tord Johansson, Production Manager of Rototilt.
People utilizing FMS technology in Rototilt’s Vindeln dream factory
Move towards one-off production influenced the design of Rototilt’s new plant. Their new 4,000 square meter manufacturing facility is a result of systematic work and involvement of the owners, management, and employees. The key focus areas of production are volume, different scenarios, principles for layouts, flows, and rapid challenge-driven testing of production set-ups and production planning. As a result, the manufacturing in Vindeln truly is capable of producing high mix and low volume.
At the center of the entire production is a 100-meter long and 10-meter high Fastems FMS (Multi-Level System) which is one of the largest flexible manufacturing systems in the Nordic countries. It was installed when the factory was built, and since then it has been continuously updated to meet the new production demands. Today, 12 multi-functional CNC machining centers are connected to the system.
“Our FMS never sleeps; we manufacture products “just in time” in a fully automated process. The demands of our customers require us to produce order-driven. We have introduced a new modeling program, started using more 5-axis machining technology, and we are continuously developing our methods to make the production more and more efficient,” says Erik Englund.
Fastems Manufacturing Management Software enabling even higher unmanned production capacity
“We are at the forefront of digitization processes where software increasingly plans and controls production. The cooperation between us and Fastems goes back a long time and our employees are truly able to utilize automation in their work,” tells Tord Johansson.
“Today, Rototilt’s system – both hardware and software – is upgraded to produce more with higher efficiency. Everything is done to fit into Rototilt’s production in the best possible way now and in the future. As said, people are in the center – automation as its best is a tool for machine operators to be one step ahead in planning and operating production. This practically means being able to see into the future and being able to act in predictive manner”, explains Henrik Brodén from Fastems. “Much of the work that we have done recently is about future-proofing the production process so that it is easy to control both during manned and unmanned times.”
“To begin with, the system at Rototilt has full integration with the Infor M3 business system, where all production orders are generated. They are then automatically transferred to Manufacturing Management Software (MMS) – the brain of Fastems FMS – which schedules production and has every order executed by the appropriate machines. When an order is completed, it is reported back to M3. MMS also keeps track of the tool lives in all machines and informs operators in advance when each tool needs to be changed. NC programs are centrally managed and automatically sent to the machines together with the respective job to be performed,” Henrik complements, and further explains: “To provide further assistance to operators, all production-related documents are linked and available at the operator loading stations to quickly ensure that everything is correct. In addition, the system collects information from all connected machines and compiles important figures such as availability, utilization rate, OEE, and so on,” Henrik finalizes.
The original article was published in Swedish in Maskinoperatören Nr 5 | September 2023