12.01.2015 Production news

Factory Evolution: Metal Processing Shop

Old photographs can tell lots of fascinating stories and evoke many fond memories. While reminiscing about the years of our corporate history we have suddenly realized that our products stole all the limelight while the manufacturing process evolution attracted little attention, if any. To provide a more balanced insight into the company operations we are launching a series of articles entitled “VENTS: Behind the Scenes” which opens with the metal processing shop story.

VENTS has always had the reputation for sustainable development and pushing the envelope ever so further. The combination of innovative solutions and uncompromising quality is what makes our products so competitive, and this is hardly a secret. However, it is the evolution of the manufacturing process and the high-tech equipment that is mostly overlooked.

The metal processing shop provides a good illustration of the factory evolution as a whole. This facility has undergone many changes and received a host of upgrades before turning into today’s technology powerhouse.

The metal processing shop started with just a few metal processors and coordinate punching machines.

Metal Processing Shop Integrated with Aluminium Grille Shop, 2006

As years passed the shop floors expanded to accommodate new equipment, and as some of the metal-working machines became obsolete they were replaced with more functional newer models.

That said, we always strive to keep our manufacturing equipment in top condition.  Replacements for the shop machines are considered only when their further operation becomes unreasonable. Moreover, it is our policy to reassign outdated metal-processing machines to other business units to maximise their useful life.  A few years ago our expert engineers breathed new life into an old bending machine which had long become obsolete. In the glory days its operation required a concerted effort of three and now it is manned by a single operator who only has align the blank properly and let the machine do the rest.

Upgraded beading machine

Year after year this metal veteran keeps turning helping to bend smaller parts whose dimensions are beyond the operating range of the newer units.

Although we do make best use of the older equipment the metal processing shop is nowhere near lacking new state-of-the-art machinery. The shop currently runs 4 Amada coordinate punching machines and our pride and joy – the ultra-modern TRUMPF unit featuring the latest metal-processing technology. Technically speaking both the AMADA and the TRUMPF machines are employed for the same job: high-precision cutting of various-shape parts out of metal sheets. The coordinate punching machines can make various holes and form 3D parts (such as ventilation grill bars). Still, the TRUMPF unit has a few aces up its sleeve. Firstly, the TRUMPF can process a metal sheet twice the size of the AMADA maximum allowance. Secondly, the various tool operations are optimised to the fullest: all the hole punching tools have tilting design for cutting parts of most complicated layout geometry.  In addition to that the TRUMPF unit is a real time saver due to its active tool tilting capability whereas the AMADA has to turn the entire carousel containing the tools currently used. This unique function sets the TRUMPF machine apart among its coordinate punching kin. And thirdly, due to some ingenious design solutions this machine consumes less power than the competition.

Although the units in question do seem highly complex, their operation is far from that: all the operator has to do is to initiate the right program containing all the job parameters and pick up the finished part once the machine cycle is complete.

Besides keeping a keen eye on the tooling the company takes product improvement extremely seriously.  Our design bureau experts continuously improve the design of the parts produced by the metal-processing shop to reduce the time required to build each product. In particular, their efforts are focused on finding new technology solutions for better product quality and durability.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of the inner transformations of our metal-processing shop. To put things in perspective, over the years the shop floor area has grown to 7,000 m2. The production facility has undergone a large-scale restructuring which facilitated access to materials and component parts, improved the logistics, enabled installation of improved unwinding machines, and lead to the design of improved space-saving process containers and acquisition of new highly manoeuvrable loaders.

Metal processing workshop, 2014

Our company keeps on working to make the plans come true. In the near future we have planned upgrading our air disk valves production line with contact welding technology for a significant weld quality improvement, acquiring a high-precision crop shear, complete phase-out of the vibrocutter to be replaced with a plasma-arc cutting machine – and this is only to begin with.

All these steps are to minimize manual labour, improve the overall quality of our products and manufacturing efficiency, boost the production output and streamline the overall workflow.

Read more

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