A Truly Tailor-Made System
Today, it goes without saying that the new beating heart of Minerva Omega's production is still the Night Train, consisting of 14 blocks and 200 drawers, which stands out as state-of-the-art in the field of automated storage units. It is connected to the punching/laser cutting machine Prima Power Combi Genius 1530 with 4 kW fiber laser and LSR6 loading/unloading and stacking robot, as well as a two-dimensional fiber laser cutting system Prima Power Laser Genius 1530 with linear motors, equipped with a 6 kW fiber source, LU sheet metal loading and unloading robot and LST automatic sorting and stacking robot.
“We speculated on four layouts, as we tried to optimize the system according to the available space by recovering, where it was possible, even just 15/20 cm to improve every little detail, such as forklift passage or swarf unloading flows, or operator access doors,” continues Salati Chiodini. “In this regard, I would like to underline Prima Power’s great willingness and tailoring ability in managing to create a truly tailor-made product, since they did step into our shoes to better understand our issues, and never suggested shortcuts in terms of standard solutions. They immediately understood the importance of offering a totally automated production system, capable of turning out a semi-finished product that is immediately ready for the next steps. Sheet metal is fed in, and the finished product having the level of finish we require is fed out. To us, this has always been a winning aspect and the result of being used to working 24/7. Technology has reached such a high level of reliability that we can launch a nesting on a Friday afternoon, and on Monday morning get all parts ready to be sorted out in the bending area – where a Prima Power eP-0520 servo-electric press brake machine was also installed – and in the assembly area; this is an essential aspect for us to be able to plan our work, reduce downtime, and minimize rejects.”
Combination Machine or Laser Cut?
Today, the installation layout of Prima Power Night Train makes it possible for Minerva Omega to operate both make-to-order and based on work-in-process inventory with the storage unit, that is also used to store semi-finished parts. Make-to-order processing includes foreign orders characterized by large quantities. An order is entered into the company management system, an estimated delivery date (in line with customer expectations) is generated, and production is launched. MRP handles everything, from orders to trade components suppliers as well as, internally, chip removal and sheet metal cutting operations. Each phase of the cycle is scheduled by means of a planning tool that logically and efficiently manages the workflow on the various machines in the shop, as well as in the various progress steps, up to product assembly and delivery. As for production launches related to the Prima Power Night Train system’s performance, at Minerva they try to exploit machining nesting processes so as to get the least possible scrap, while optimizing processing as much as possible.
“Having parts that are 90% made of stainless steel sheet, we always manage to create excellent nesting processes that combine the best mix of parts, even consumables, according to the job orders to be processed. We try to gather as many pieces as possible into the nesting so as to get to an 85% sheet filling percentage,” explains Salati Chiodini.
It was also interesting to understand what aspects are considered when deciding whether a workpiece type is to be processed on a Combi Genius or on a Laser Genius cutting system. In this case, Salati Chiodini’s answer was clear and unambiguous: “We only make parts to be cut or thick parts on the laser system, while we use the combination unit to make all those parts that need other work processes such as deformations, threaded holes, embossing, notches, and slots. If, however, I had to draw a comparison with the past, when we had CO2 lasers instead of fiber sources, I would say that the most obvious aspect is perhaps the one related to energy consumption, as we are having quite significant savings if you consider that the combination machine alone consumed about 80kW, while today, with both machines, we do not reach this figure.
Fiber laser requires very low maintenance and guarantees a better and finer cut in most cases, and this applies to both the 4kW Combi machine and 6kW Laser Genius, which ensure comparable cutting performance.
The Laser Genius, having higher power, with thickness being equal, manages to get slightly better quality and shorter timing. However, I would say that in both cases, for up to 15 mm thickness, we can get practically perfect cut quality, in line with the provisions of the certifications to which we are subjected. Moreover, having a best-finished cut with no burrs means for us to avoid reworking pieces again to sand or grind them. All this involves a reduction in time and considerable economic advantages with a favorable impact on the end-user customer.”
Translated, edited, and reprinted with permission by Deformazione Magazine, Oct. 2019.