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Test & measurement


Improving machining flexibility with automation


When Hardwicke Enterprise, a subcontract CNC machining specialist needed to upscale production after it won a new contract, it needed a flexible, quick and simple solution to increase speed and ensure quality. It turned to metrology specialist The Sempre Group for support, who has been developing a new automated machine tending solution that saved Hardwicke Enterprise 52 hours of time that operators could allocate to other projects.


this information to the automation solution to place the part in the correct place. This PC based control software is simpler, cheaper and easier to use than an industrial PLC, which is often a costly investment for SMEs because it can take months to learn how to use and program the technology effectively.


SavING TImE The automated machine tending system had a 20-component capacity on each plate, a cycle time of three minutes 45 seconds and a Takt time of four minutes 45 seconds. The


Hardwicke team reported that the system saved around 52 hours of operator time that it could reallocate to other projects. “While some businesses view robots


negatively, as they think that they will replace staff, this project showed the real value in technology,” continues Foster. “Robots take people away from laborious tasks and create roles that require highly skilled people. So now, we have an expert team that can work on different tasks while robots run all day, to meet demand for higher volumes.” “Our collaboration with Hardwicke proved


the importance of investing in automation to unlock value — businesses can now use both staff and technology to their full potential to improve productivity,” continued John. “Now that we understand the value the system can add to the production floor, we can look to leverage the investment and ROI by developing and offering bolt-on applications. Manufacturers could use the system for applications such as post processing, including deburring or polishing, for packaging, including boxing or palletising, for assembly or for sorting. Manufacturers can simply reprogram the system in minutes, without the costs of introducing more equipment.” “This project was a one off for us — the


small batches that we traditionally produce will not benefit from automation. However, as we start to see businesses look for more local suppliers, demand for higher volumes of parts will increase. As a result, we expect to see more high volume contracts, which we can now confidently accept without concerns about overhauling our production line. We’re confident that The Sempre Group can quickly and efficiently install the system, upscale our production and increase our flexibility to continue delivering high quality parts, no matter the batch size,” concludes Foster.


The Sempre Group www.thesempregroup.com


Instrumentation Monthly March 2021 25


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