Digital manufacturing event at MTC

The Manufacturing Technology Centre’s fifth annual digital manufacturing conference will bring together some of Europe’s leading experts on the digital revolution sweeping through the manufacturing industry.

This high-level conference, which takes place at the MTC’s Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre in Coventry on 4-5 November, is aimed at helping UK manufacturers embrace the latest digital technologies to improve their businesses.
Named ‘Digitalising Manufacturing 2019: Making Digital a Reality’, manufacturing leaders from across Europe will inform delegates that digital advances and smart factories are as much about people as technology. While Industry 4.0 opens up huge potential for UK manufacturers, companies have to invest in people and skills to reap the benefits of technology and industrial automation. The conference will aim to give manufacturers support on how to progress the digital journey in their own organisations, based on previous experiences and lessons learnt.
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Two Amada saws installed at Barrett Steel

Formed by Henry Barrett in 1866, Barrett Steel Ltd has grown to become the UK’s largest independent steel stockholder, today consisting of four divisions with more than 40 companies operating from 26 sites.

Due to higher business levels being experienced by the Barrett Engineering Steel division, a search was recently commenced for an efficient sawing solution that would meet requirements at two sites in the Midlands and northwest. This search prompted the company to invest in a pair of Amada PCSAW 430X/AX pulse cutting automatic bandsaws from Accurate Cutting Services.
In comparison with conventional bandsaws, Accurate Cutting Services says that Amada PC series machines deliver faster cutting by employing a novel mechanism to ‘pulse’ the blade feed pressure. This pulse forces the bandsaw’s tips to overcome any work hardening through the cut, and eliminate the unwelcome vibration harmonics that create noise and damage tip material.
Rob Fern, Barrett Engineering Steel’s Midlands branch manager, explains the reasons for purchasing the bandsaws: “In addition to build quality, the pulse capabilities provide the speed – especially on large diameters – and accuracy that we require. The main consoles also clearly display an estimated finish time for each job, which permits operatives to plan upcoming cuts, while the ability to download data related to blade performance is extremely useful for monitoring KPIs and promoting continuous business improvement.”
At Barrett Engineering Steel, the 430 mm cutting capacity Amada machines are currently being used to saw carbon and alloy grade steel, in both black and bright bar, including the company’s latest EN30B stock.
“As well as the bandsaws, we bought an RT feed conveyor,” says Fern. “The conveyor gives us the benefit of semi-automation and has resulted in a significant reduction in downtime. Indeed, the saw can run unattended for up to two whole shifts.”
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Storage and sawing systems upgraded

Since 1993, storage and sawing technology from Kasto has provided dependable service to hydraulic equipment manufacturer Liebherr-Components Kirchdorf GmbH.

However, to meet increasing demand for its hydraulic cylinders, the company decided to modernise and expand its production systems. So Kasto was commissioned to upgrade the existing storage system for steel bar and tube, as well as a pair of bandsaws, and equip it with customised robotic handling.
Liebherr-Components has specialised in the production of hydraulic cylinders since 1958. Every year approximately 75,000 hydraulic cylinders, suspensions and system solutions for cylinders leave the plant to be used worldwide.
Stefan Lützel in the industrial engineering department at Liebherr-Components says: “A Kasto cassette storage system with 733 locations, an automatic cantilever arm and a large bandsaw from the KASTOhba series provided reliable service for 26 years. Until recently a production circular saw which was of a similar age from the same manufacturer was also in use.
“We have granted this saw a well-deserved retirement, as in 2016 we modernised our sawing technology and increased cutting capacity to 430 mm diameter with the addition of a KASTOtec SC 4 bandsaw, which is particularly effective at processing difficult-to-cut materials,” he adds. “The saw is able to operate with either a high-speed-steel or a carbide blade and is equipped with the Kasto Performance Cutting (KPC) package, which includes improved band guidance and vibration absorption for even higher cutting efficiency.”
Furthermore, Liebherr-Components together with Kasto developed a custom-made solution to automate the handling of cut pieces with an industrial robot moving between the two saws on a linear track. The robot is equipped with several exchangeable magnetic grippers that are able to pick-up various cut lengths weighing up to 350 kg from the sawing machines.
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AFRC makes move into space industry

The University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) is making its way into the space industry, working with Airbus Defence and Space (Airbus DS) and TWI Ltd to bring the manufacture of space propellant tanks back to the UK.

In a two-year collaboration funded by the European Space Agency (ESA), the AFRC is using its expertise in forming and forging to advise Airbus DS on advanced manufacturing methods for the tanks.
Ways to make the design more efficient and economical will be explored, chiefly by producing the initial component at as near to net-shape as possible, substantially reducing machining time and the waste of expensive metals such as titanium. Formerly produced in the UK, Airbus DS currently purchases its fuel tanks from Germany or the US. Key to the project is bringing production back to the UK and sharing outputs with the wider supply chain.
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Expansion at Angloco

The UK’s oldest manufacturer of firefighting vehicles – based in Batley – is readying itself for the biggest recruitment drive in its 54-year history, as the team prepares for its largest ever period of growth.

Established in 1965, firefighting and rescue vehicle specialist Angloco has already doubled production levels in the past 18 months, with 2017-18 turnover of £13m looking set to rocket to £25m by the end of 2020. But with the uplift showing no sign of slowing, the 90-strong team now needs at least another 12 employees by December 2019, with more vacancies undoubtedly on the horizon for the following year.
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