Updates and announcements from the manufacturing arena

Certification achieved
Clariant, a focused and innovative specialty chemical company, has announced it has completed ISO 22000 certification for its sites at Sant Andreu de la Barca (Barcelona), Spain, and Tangerang, Indonesia, recently. Together with the Indonesian site and the former certified site in Singapore, Sant Andreu de la Barca is the third global site, and the first in Europe, to have completed the certification. ISO 22000 is a family of international standards that addresses food-safety management and lists measures that an organisation needs to put in place to control eventual food safety hazards.

“Our objective was to build on Clariant’s long-standing collaboration with current customers and expand the business related to food contact applications,” says Alessandro Dulli, Global Head of Segment and BD Packaging. “We now can readily support food producers who are already using a similar standard, or plastics converters who want to make sure that the entire value chain applies comparable procedures to the ones they are using in their production lines.”

Certification strengthens Clariant’s global capabilities and leadership position as a supplier of high-quality, high-performance colour and additive master batches for the food industry. Applications supported by the Spanish site include plastics caps and closures, food tabs and bottles, as well as film and sheet.

Doing the robot
Autonomous vehicles from Ford are still a few years away, but one little robot is already showing what’s possible.

Nicknamed ‘Survival’ because of its ability to adapt to its environment, the self-driving robot delivers spare parts around one of Ford’s manufacturing plants, dodging unforeseen objects, changing its route if obstructed and stopping whenever necessary.

Developed entirely by Ford engineers, it is the first of its kind to be used in any of the company’s European facilities.

“We programmed it to learn the whole of the plant floor so, together with sensors, it doesn’t need any external guides to navigate,” said Eduardo García Magraner, engineering manager, at Ford’s state-of-the-art body and stamping plant in Valencia, Spain, where the robot is being trialled.

Delivering spare parts and welding material to different stations around the plant is a crucial element in keeping Kuga, Mondeo and S-MAX production going. For Ford workers though, the task is time-consuming and relatively mundane. The robot does not replace employees but can save up to 40-employee hours every day by taking over this role, allowing operators to use their time on more complex tasks.

Survival is one of a number of smart robots employed in Ford’s European facilities, including the ‘Robutt’ and co-bots in Cologne, Germany. The self-driving robot uses LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology to visualise its surroundings, a technology also used in Ford’s prototype autonomous vehicles.

Preparation underway
Work that will prepare the ground for future phases of one of the country’s most significant manufacturing hubs is now underway after a North-East construction firm was appointed. The International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP), a partnership between South Tyneside Council and Sunderland City Council, with HBD as development partner, will see scores of bespoke manufacturing facilities being built on the site – situated just north of Nissan – over the coming years, between them creating more than 7000 jobs over the next ten to 15 years.

North East headquartered Esh Civils, a delivery arm of Esh Construction was awarded a contract for infrastructure works by Henry Boot Developments (HBD) on behalf of IAMP LLP. The contract will see design, construction and installation of the infrastructure required to support the first phase of development of the IAMP and involves the delivery of highways, drainage, utilities, landscaping and environmental mitigation work. The works will be managed by HBD on behalf of IAMP LLP and is expected to take around 12 months to deliver.

Major tooling contract
UK, Midlands based Amco Group has been working hard throughout 2018 to strengthen its end-to-end plastic injection tooling proposition due to customer demand. The new offering has resulted in Amco’s recent contract to provide plastic injection mould tooling, tooling movement logistics and finished parts supply to the Morgan Motor Company.

Paul Andrews, Amco Group CEO, who led the project said: “This project is a clear demonstration of how the Amco Group add value. We already work with the Morgan team, shipping cars to dealers world-wide and engines to their factory. This opportunity allowed us to build further on an already strong and growing relationship.

“We had the tool built by one of our partners in Shenzhen and we were then commissioned by Morgan to produce the parts as our pricing was very competitive. We managed our DFM (Design for Manufacturing) process to optimise each stage of the manufacturing functions. We completed the mould flow analysis, and in this case, we identified in T0 (Initial Trial Parts testing) that the original material specified was not suitable. From the UK, we shipped into Amco’s facility in China, high quality, European specification plastic resin granules, which together with some engineering changes required by Morgan, led to successful T1 parts production, which were run before graining, and were first fit first time.”

Andrews continues: “The tooling and the parts were required for Morgan for the all new Plus Six for the Geneva Motor show and therefore time and quality critical. Our transport and logistics skills came into play one more time as the parts were ready in China on the Thursday and we delivered them to Morgan on the following Monday morning, hand carried by our Project Engineer! We managed the transport, documentation and customs clearance – basically the total supply chain from RFQ to delivery of finished parts, logistics, tooling and parts supply.”

News in brief
Lack of skills
New research from Exasol has found that without data analytics 75 per cent of manufacturing business leaders’ operational decision-making would either be completely or significantly disrupted. Worryingly, the research also found that one in five manufacturing business leaders state that data driven initiatives are failing due to a lack of skills. The skills crisis is evident across all industries, but manufacturing is leading the way in correcting this issue. Manufacturers are committing to training programmes with 80 per cent committing to external training and 96 per cent providing internal training on data skills.

First in Scotland
The University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) has integrated cutting-edge laser metal deposition (LMD) technology within a CNC machine, creating a unique platform that is the first of its kind in Scotland, and one of very few across the world. Providing an affordable way for SMEs to embrace additive manufacturing, the LMD Hybrid platform demonstrates that those with existing CNC technologies can retrofit their machinery to accommodate additive manufacturing, at a reduced cost compared to off the shelf. The machine was integrated by Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies, a tier two partner at the AFRC.

European acquisition
Lesjöfors, one of Europe’s leading manufacturer of springs, pressings and wire parts, has acquired Spirbelt Beheer B.V., which includes its two subsidiaries Tribelt and De Spiraal in the Netherlands.

Lesjöfors’s President, Kjell-Arne Lindbäck, comments on the transaction: “De Spiraal and Tribelt are companies that fit well into Lesjöfors’s European platform, with a diversified customer base and opportunities for cross sales with our existing businesses. In addition, Tribelt will open up a new market for Lesjöfors with conveyor belt applications.”

The sellers and Managing Directors, René Spoelder and René Frielink, noted that they are looking forward to staying on and continuing to develop the company further.