CASE STUDY

Leading manufacturer of precision-machined components for the aerospace, automotive, and defense industries significantly reduces changeover time on complex, multi-step tasks.

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The Business

ASTec Metalworks is a leading manufacturer of precision-machined components for the aerospace, automotive, and defense industries. They operate several types of machine tools on a daily basis, including press brakes, CNC lathes, and CNC mills. Due to ASTec’s sterling reputation of producing the highest-quality work to meet the demands of major international corporations, business is booming.

Task

Tending a Mori DMU50 5-axis CNC Mill

The Challenge

To keep up with growth, ASTec needs to run their machines as much as possible, including overnight shifts. Finding highly-skilled labor for that third, nighttime, shift is always a challenge. Furthermore, ASTec’s machinists are too busy filling orders to spend the weeks typically required to set up an industrial robot. They needed a solution that could be deployed in days not weeks, and one that could operate side-by-side with human workers during the day.

The Solution

The Forge/Station robot control system, coupled with third-party industrial automation equipment from industry leaders like Universal Robots, Schunk, Robotiq, Piab, and others. Able to be set up in minutes and programmed in a few hours, the Forge/Station allows ASTec Metalworks to leverage the power of robotic automation without any of the headaches.

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The Results

ASTec has initially programmed their Forge/Station to tend a DMU50 5-axis CNC mill from DMG Mori. The Forge/Station places several metal blocks into the DMU50’s rotary table and tightens each vice using an off-the-shelf electric driver. Like many machine shops, ASTec produces parts in runs of hundreds or a few thousand, so machine tools often need to be changed over to a new job. Tasks are saved in Forge/OS, so over time the robotic system only increases in value as it can be quickly repurposed to run previously saved jobs. Given the flexibility of the Forge/Station and the enormous growth at ASTec Metalworks, this is only the beginning of robotic automation for the company.

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Timing is everything! The unbelievably short installation and setup time of the Forge/Station Robot enabled us to capture a full shift of additional production running lights out. This gain in production was EXACTLY what we needed to meet a doubling of our aircraft program demands!

Scott Saunders, President
ASTec Metalworks.