Innovative thinking gives company a new lease of life At the beginning of 2004, Giampietro Monaco had the opportunity to acquire Costat, a plastics injection moulding company. It had been in business for 20 years and like many companies in the Turin region, was a supplier to the automotive industry and therefore an ideal fit with his own toolmaking business But then he had to find someone capable to run the company and he actually approached one of his competitors, Salvatore Rizzo, whom he had admired for some time. Rizzo had 30 years’ experience in the industry and had achieved much with limited means and great commitment. So, a deal was struck.
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“I saw this opportunity as a real challenge,” said Salvatore Rizzo. “I inherited 15 experienced employees and an ample range of machines, all of which needed to run as efficiently as possible. I was convinced that in order to succeed in this highly competitive sector you need to advance the operation from toolmaking to tool production. You need to minimise lead times, improve quality, minimise scrap and human errors. That’s where automation is the answer!” “But automation demands a uniform approach to working. What I found were competent employees but major shortcomings in systems thinking. The strategy was clear from the outset – step one was to change the culture in the workshop by introducing systems. Step two was to automate.” Lead times halved Rizzo continues: “I have years of experience of System 3R products and their positive effects. Here, the Macro system had been used in the die-sinking EDM machines, but the inherent beneficial potential of integrating it as a system was not being exploited. Standardisation and systemisation are now keywords in the workshop and implementation has been relatively problem-free. Once people grasp the fundamental idea they accept it right away. Everything is so much simpler!”
A dynamic duo – Salvatore Rizzo and Giampietro Monaco. Now Costat is using MacroJunior and Macro systems in the die-sinking EDM machines and in electrode manufacturing. The shape and position of the electrodes were determined when the tool was being designed using CADCAM. Two of the milling machines for machining the die sets have been fitted with the new Delphin zero-point system for fast, precise changes of the heavy workpieces. The outcome of these investments, not so much in products as in employee training, has been good. “Since the beginning of the year, lead times for the mould tools have been broadly halved,” explains Salvatore Rizzo with pride. Committed to full automation So the foundation had been laid for the next phase – full automation. A new high-speed milling machine was installed for electrode manufacture – a DMG 70 eVolution – in a production cell, served by a 32-position WorkPal robot. “It’s important to start at the right end when introducing automation,” says Salvatore Rizzo. “There’s no point investing in an automatic EDM cell if you can’t feed it with enough electrodes.” Initially this production cell was expected to deliver about 100 effective hours per week. Further down the line, two new CNC milling machines are planned, as well as a further automatic EDM cell.
The Delphin system offers fast and precise set-up of mould bases in the milling machines.
Rizzo concludes: “Today we have one person per machine, but in the near future I hope that one operator will be handling three fully-automated production cells. The available machine capacity needs to be utilised efficiently- round the clock, seven days a week.
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Related links:DelphinMacroWorkPal Compact ServoAutomation in general