Robots turn the lights out

07 May 2019

Engineering capacity news posted by Andy Sandford

Dorset-based machined components manufacturer Brimor Engineering has invested in its first ever robot to help it boost capacity and achieve ‘lights-out’ automation.

The company was looking for a compact solution that was easy to use and suited to a production environment where short set-up times are essential for the efficient use of the machines and selected a Halter LoadAssistant supplied by ETG.

The automated loading of up to 100 workpieces allows Brimor to free up staff to work on other machines and in different roles.

Chris Harley, Managing Director at Brimor Engineering, explained: “A lot of our precision components and assemblies are heading for the automotive industry, so there is a lot of pressure on making sure you deliver high quality and increasingly reducing lead times.

“As a small manufacturer, we have to be clever in our approach to achieving this and pinpointed the need to automate the loading process on one of our CNCs to help us continue production throughout the night.”

He continued: “This is where ETG came into the equation and guided us through the different technology options until we settled on the Halter LoadAssistant. It is our first investment in robotics and has fitted seamlessly into our Blandford Forum factory, potentially saving us up to four weeks of production time every year.

“We’ve had a really strong 2018 and, now we have freed up additional capacity, we want to go after new opportunities in sectors that are looking for precision complex components and speed of delivery.”

“Our technical experts have seen a significant increase in the number of ‘lights-out’ projects we are taking on, where we will work with subcontractors to explore the possibility of producing components through the night without any labour costs,” added Steve Brown, Sales Director at the Engineering Technology Group.

“Advancements in technology mean this scenario is not purely the property of the big boys, with millions of pounds set aside to introduce it. No, instead SMEs like Brimor Engineering are switching on to the benefits this new industrial trend can bring.

“Although the key driver of ‘lights-out’ is to reduce labour costs, it is also possible to save money in other areas of the business. Having longer production through the night will enable more time to do shorter batch runs during the day for example.”