Night Train bound for Australia

Thursday, 18 February, 2010

Shamic Sheetmetal (Aust) Pty Ltd manufactures various identifiable national brands including HeatCharm, Coonara and Arrow wood and gas log fires for household use, along with various sheetmetal products such as kiosks, car parts and electrical cubicles, and have a history of adopting new technologies to heighten productivity and safety.

This manufacturer of wood and gas log fires has now become the first in Australia to sign for delivery and installation of the completely automated ‘lights-out’ materials handling system, Night Train FMS.

This Night Train FMS technology from Finn-Power is designed to allow sheetmetal fabrication plants to run shifts that are practically unmanned. So complete is the level of software-driven automation that a night shift can be run without any active personnel present. Although WorkCover authorities would recommend one person oversee any ‘lights-out’ scenario, preset parameters on Night Train can oversee the shift through all manufacturing processes with all safety barriers in place.

The managing director of the company, Eric Woodgate, has always viewed technology as an important investment that is necessary for the company to remain strong in a competitive market. “There is a high level of competition in this industry sector, and without machinery and modernisation you would continue to lose control of your profit margins,” said Woodgate.

“Before we sourced various machinery technologies from Maxitec, we were always slightly behind in our deliveries but now we have eliminated that. More recently, we acquired a Finn-Power Ebe Express Bender to use for sheetmetal bending and shaping applications which gave us better speed, more accuracy and total cost analysis per project.

"Now, by committing to a full ‘lights-out’ Night Train set-up, we will become the first company in Australia to have this technology. It will allow us to lock up the premises at the end of our day shifts, go home and return the following morning to find the job run completely finished and collated. It also means even more floor space will be freed up due to complete inventory management and handling, plus our workspaces will gain an even higher level of safety and organisation.

“Overall, it means job sequencing and execution does not logjam, accuracy is high, margins are maximised and clutter becomes a thing of the past. Once we are completely lights-out capable, we are well ahead of the opposition and able to take on all types of challenges.”

Night Train FMS integrates various Finn-Power cells of right-angle shears, laser cutters, turret punch presses and bending units to form a seamless system able to carry out a full shift overnight - and virtually unmanned.

Hence, sheetmetal working companies can operate with full staff on a day shift, which would set up materials before leaving and program the Night Train FMS to operate automatically and effectively keep the production line working around the clock without spiralling wage bills.

The cells can load, scrap, remove, sort and stack, while the overall system can load and stack sheets, look after component stack buffering, provide cell to cell transfer and remove bent components.

To Woodgate, the concept is simple: floor staff are safe from redundancy as the system is programmed and operated by them during a regular day shift when Night Train FMS performs much of the manual handling and excludes people from this activity, which is more likely to injure them. When the day’s work is over, the integrated system will have been programmed to perform overnight the many duties which otherwise would need human involvement and would merely be slowing productivity in that timeslot.

Basically, the system allows a high level of efficiency in work stage management, it provides sophisticated programming and control systems, the versatility of modern machine tools, flexible automation and can be customised to suit specific requirements.

Moving onto an integrated machine solution such as Night Train FMS represents a major step for any Australian sheet metal working company, so to ensure optimum performance not only does Maxitec provide extensive local support, Finn-Power engineers can monitor an installation by a live video internet link-up as an extra level of support.

Maxitec Pty Ltd

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