Deburring Cell for ALUMERO FINEX Extrusions
The family business ALUMERO FINEX Extrusions B.V. in Helmond is part of the Austrian Alumero Group. With over 25 years of experience, Alumero is a specialist in the aluminium market. FINEX focuses on specific aluminium precision of microprofiles with minimal tolerances and thin wall thicknesses. At FINEX, they do not believe in standard solutions for each customer, but they prefer to work with short communication lines and do not use minimum order quantities. Each customer has their own requirements and therefore tailor-made solutions are worked out for and, above all, together with the customer. For FINEX, quality and service are far more important than quantity. The market in which FINEX specialises cannot be easily defined. The parent company currently divides its activities into the categories Solar, Living, Industry, Bautec and Extrusion. For each category, the priority is to handle the concerns of Alumero Group's customers, from the first idea to the final product. FINEX has the same objective.
One of FINEX's customers is Secrid, a Dutch company that focuses on pocketware and develops distinctive cardholders and wallets. This company has a decorative product with a unique Dutch-Made, A-Product market positioning and a strongly cohesive supply chain. For Secrid it is extremely important that the aluminium end profiles are completely measured and deburred uniquely and with a high-quality. The demand for pocket ware is increasing and as this is an A-brand, maintaining the quality is extremely important, regardless of the volume. In order to guarantee the same high quality at a higher volume, FINEX had to automate its production.
FINEX decided to have a specialised sawing machine and subsequent deburring cells with KUKA robots designed and installed by us. This deburring cell contains a KR6 R900 AGILUS robot on which a vacuum cup is mounted. The robot works at different speed levels at different defined angles and starting points. The big advantage of the KUKA robot is that it has been programmed by FINEX and us in such a way that it can also be adapted per profile and per robot cell according to the different customer needs. The sawing machine saws the aluminium profile to the desired dimensions and via a conveyor belt this profile is then placed in the robot cell. The robot picks up the profile and ensures that both the inside and outside contours are carefully finished. After this, the robot places the profile back on the conveyor belt that brings them to the next stop.
This production automation was necessary because FINEX always goes to great lengths to meet the needs of its customers. Thanks to the automation, FINEX is now able to increase its production capacity without having to sacrifice the quality; on the contrary, every produced product is now realised with the same high quality. In addition, automation offers added value by collecting data and thus creating synergy with the basic extrusion.
Together we respected an important condition: the automation had to be in no way harmful to the employees who are also active in the production. The machines must therefore contribute to a pleasant working environment. The employees who used to be in charge of the repetitive production of the profiles have now been trained to be robot operators. The robots generate a lot of data that give the FINEX team feedback on the production process. The employees have therefore broadened their knowledge of extrusion with the knowledge of Industrial robots and this synergy is extremely important to FINEX. The KUKA robots and the employees must be able to cooperate perfectly with each other so that the production runs optimally and to create room for continuous improvement. Because we made the entire automation process as flexible as possible and FINEX has retrained its workers on the shop floor to work with this flexibility, FINEX can also guarantee quality in case of changes in the customer's needs.
We have gone beyond the current problem at FINEX. Together we looked to the future. The entire automation process has been designed in such a way that FINEX can expand its automation step by step. For example, in the field of visual surface control there are still numerous possibilities and also for the entire process after extrusion all options are still open. So it was immediately clear to FINEX that we were the best partner for this first part of the automation process. We immediately understood the needs of FINEX. People and robots have to form a synergy, they have to work together to achieve the best result. The solution we developed in combination with our training and service gave FINEX a lot of confidence. FINEX is also very positive about their first experience with KUKA robots and the quality from an R&D trajectory. For companies without any robot knowledge, KUKA robots are very easy to learn to operate. This was certainly important for the personnel that had to be trained for this.
Jeroen van Bussel, Managing Director at ALUMERO FINEX Extrusions:
"A qualitative cooperation between man and robot was an important requirement for us in this automation project.
The involvement of FINEX employees, the service of Manders Automation and KUKA and the training were all important elements"