Temperzone to become ‘lights out’ manufacturing plant

Australia’s largest manufacturer of commercial and domestic air conditioning equipment is considering a proposal to become a completely automated ‘lights out’ manufacturing plant, gaining greater speed, accuracy and efficiency in its processes.

Temperzone, which in late 2009 formed a strategic alliance with Hitachi, is now in the initial phase of a multi-stage technology upgrade – one which is also expected to swell its employee base.

Managing director of Temperzone, Alan Channels, is consolidating the company’s growth strategy on automated Finn-Power technology.

This Finn-Power setup, with the Night Train FMS automated handling system soon to be at the hub, will ensure Temperzone eventually processes sheet metal in more economical coiled form rather than individual sheets.

“After a long look at all the technologies available, we originally based our sheetmetal machinery platform on Finn-Power as it provides compatible integration from the initial stage of automation – which is where we are at now – right through to the point where we can operate completely unmanned with our eventual Night Train FMS – and it does this seamlessly,” said Channels.

“The entire upgrade process is being conducted in stages. At the moment, we are adding a Finn-Power Shear Brilliance to our existing Finn-Power Shear Genius to further speed up the plant.

“At the same time, Finn-Power – through its Australian distributor Maxitec – has provided us with a complete blueprint for the layout of where a Night Train FMS system would fit in for a complete, 24/7 unmanned sheetmetal operation.

“My plan is that when output requirements reach a certain level, I will put all existing machines in a layout for a full Night Train FMS integration – and at that point adding a decoiler allowing the plant to run on coiled steel rather than individual sheets.

“When we are fully setup, this steel from the coil will feed directly into the Night Train FMS system which in turn will feed into the Shear Brilliance and Shear Genius units.

“With the assistance of Maxitec, I have also allowed space in the design to fit a Finn-Power EB bender at the end of the FMS system.

“I estimate the complete upgrade will take one to two years in total, but the integration of all these technologies will allow me to buy the coiled steel, put that on Night Train which feeds into all the punching, cutting and folding machines and at the end of the line we are left with finished components ready for assembly (into air conditioning units) with no manual handling.

“Furthermore, as we have seen at every stage a Finn-Power machine has been added to our business, we are almost certain to employ more people to handle increased demand from a growing client base.”

Night Train FMS integrates various Finn-Power cells of right angle shears, laser cutters, turret punch/presses and bending units to form a seamless system able to carry out a full shift overnight – and virtually unmanned.

Sheetmetal working companies can operate with full staff on a day shift, which would set up materials before leaving and programme the Night Train FMS to operate automatically and effectively keep the production line working around the clock without spiralling wage bills.

The cells can load, scrap, remove, sort and stack, while the overall system can load and stack sheets, look after component stack buffering, provide cell to cell transfer, and remove bent components.

Shear Brilliance is an integrated right angle shear machine that uses linear drive technology to simplify and speed processes in punching, forming, tapping, marking and shearing.

Shear genius, also a right angled shear, automates the entire material flow in sheet metal jobs, from material storage, loading and unloading to scrap removal, component sorting and stacking.

With a Night Train at the hub, the whole system will straighten, cut, store, stock and deliver as required to the Shear Genius and Shear Brilliance machines. Cut and punched blanks will be automatically delivered as required to the EB Bender and eventually be passed out to powder coating (finishing) ad assembly applications.

“So all my sheetmetal will be stored in the night train system until required,” said Channels.“All I have to do is put in the part number of the item I need manufactured and by the next day it delivers that part for assembly.

“When we first put in the Shear Genius, one Shear Genius was doing what three turret presses, three guillotines and six operators could do (it was one man, one machine).

“Since we instituted the Shear Genius, I have nearly doubled my employment over eight years. This is because the addition of automation leads to much more work coming through.”

Much of Temperzone’s air conditioning units is manufactured in-house. Such parts include heat exchangers, coils, fans, scrolls, so more assembly work means more jobs.

Since the company’s initial investment in Finn-Power automation, it has grown from four assembly lines to six assembly lines – and there are no forklifts being driven around the plant anymore.

“With our old semi-automatic turret punch presses and folders, there was always the need to forklift material, but we don’t need to fork steel from the guillotine to the presses anymore,” said Channels”.

“Once a Night Train FMS is completely installed and running, we can almost say that we won’t even need to ‘look’ at the steel anymore, let alone handle it!”

In October 2009 Temperzone Australia and Hitachi formed a strategic alliance that saw Temperzone become the exclusive distributor of Hitachi Air Conditioning products in Australia.

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