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Automation As a Matter of Survival

21 September 2018
Automation As a Matter of Survival

Production acceleration

Automation projects are becoming increasingly popular at Russian production facilities. Smart machines, automated production lines, and industrial robots allow for an efficiency boost and acceleration of the production cycle.

According to Automated Systems and Complexes (ASC), companies implement such modernization projects for various reasons. Some seek to increase the quality of their products, while others are interested in accessing markets previously unavailable to certain manufacturers. With the help of new technologies, companies launch new products.

Production automation increases work precision and boosts efficiency, and new machinery allows for the performance of operations that could not be performed manually, ASC press service shared.

Non-Core Potential

Ekaterinburg Non-Ferrous Metal Processing Plant JSC (EZOCM, part of Plaurum group) is currently testing industrial automation options. In 2017, the company acquired computer numerical controlled (CNC) Nexturn SA12B axis lathe for EUR 200,000. The machine is designed to produce precision complex parts for medical and dental equipment, as well as clockwork parts.

The new machine will be used to manufacture approximately 300,000 new types of products from titanium, steel, platinum, and iridium. EZOCM is fine-tuning the production of components for pacemaker manufacturers located in Moscow and Izhevsk.

 

"We have already signed contracts with both companies. Supplies will start in 2019. We do not specialize in this line of work, but saw market potential there. EZOCM revenue from its medical products may amount to 10-12% of total revenue. Nexturn lathe allows for the production of infinitely small (several millimeters) and differently shaped parts,"

Mark Vislinsky, Head of Marketing and Advertising Department, stated.


 

South Korea supplied Nexturn SA12B to EZOCM. The company believes that the cost of the machine will be recovered within 1.5 years.

Warehousing Forecast

With the 3D Warehouse system, Cherepovets Steel Mill staff can track product location and specifications / Photo courtesy of Chermk.severstal.com

Automation systems also provide industrialists with the opportunity to streamline control over production processes. For example, such systems can send data on the number of manufactured items and their location to operators and production managers. Cherepovets Steel Mill (CherMK, part of PAO Severstal) launched its automation project by implementing 3D Warehouse, an innovative tracking system.

 

The service tracks the movement of all items (for example, steel rolls) throughout the production site and creates a virtual 3D map of the warehouse. Company staff can quickly access product information, i.e. geometric parameters and end consumers. The system controls the operations of seven cranes, a wagon, transporters of hot-rolled coils, and entry to the production site, CherMK press service said.

 

Fixed weighing machines and accelerated cooling lines of the production facility are also connected to 3D Warehouse. The system has allowed for the optimization of CherMK operations by identifying redundant metal transport operations and subsequently eliminating them. The project provides assistance with predicting warehouse load and the amount of free space for new products. Using an industrial tablet, company employees can instantly check available stock and find the necessary blank.

Half Capacity

Enterprises can use modern technologies to overcome an economic crisis. For example, Chelyabinsk-based AVTOREAL Production Association (established in 1999) used to manufacture components for brake systems and sold them to AvtoVAZ; the company was losing money, for the Russian automobile industry placed orders that used only 30-50% of AVTOREAL capacity which was insufficient for the survival of this South Ural company.

Fanis Fakhrutdinov, AVTOREAL General Director, reduced manual labor and increased efficiency by installing automated production lines.

 

"Processing of brake disks and drums is now fully automated. Modern equipment includes DOOSAN turning center, FANUC robotic manipulator, and CEMB balancing complex. For example, FANUC robot automatically loads CNC conveyors without any human involvement,"

Fanis Fakhrutdinov explained.


 

Upon the installation of automated lines, AVTOREAL passed compliance testing under Renault-Nissan standards and is now operating at 100% capacity.

Assistance instead of Unemployment

Industrialists can explore industrial automation and robotization options at INNOPROM / Photo courtesy of Innoropm2018.tass.photo

As more and more Russian companies upgrade their production facilities, industrialists keep raising the issue of mass layoffs. Professional community is worried that production facilities will no longer require human labor, and employment prospects for industrial workers are grim. ASC representatives believe that these concerns are premature.


"Complex and smart machinery will always require servicing performed by actual workers. Automation is a positive thing because it improves working conditions and eliminates the need to perform hard labor. So machines will not replace people, but help them," ASC press service emphasized.

 

Industrial automation is a key step on the path to the digital transformation of production. In 2018, INNOPROM attracted representatives of professional communities and featured special exhibitions which showcased automation projects and solutions.

Preparations are underway for the 10th anniversary INNOPROM, which will be held on July 8-11, 2019. At the exhibition, large corporations and startups will demonstrate their latest digital technologies and discuss market trends.

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