Innovative production in the making at CEJN
Production at CEJN AB, Sweden is getting a real facelift. “We’re not afraid to take the lead in adapting to innovative production. This investment shows our customers that CEJN is a company to count on in the future too,” says Production Manager Gunnar Hellichius. I meet with Gunnar and can tell he is very excited as he shows me into his office and continues, “The new 8-spindle lathe from INDEX that just arrived is the first one in Sweden. And so far we’ve ordered three...”
Gunnar sits down and takes a sip of his black coffee, “CEJN Production 2020 is an innovative production strategy. World-leading products need world-class production”. The new machine park will start with three eight-spindle lathes, an automated assembly line for eSafe, collaborative robots and automated bar storage solutions. Great investors and thinkers talk about the future as something to aim for. Gunnar assures me that the future is already here at CEJN.
Collaborative robots – for increased assembly automation
“CEJN have been part of a research project together with Chalmers, Scania and the University of Skövde for the past two years investigating the possibility of increasing automation in the assembly line by using collaborative robots. The results have been good, and by the end of 2017 we’ll have two robots from Universal Robots in our production line. The staff involved absolutely love this,” Gunnar smiles, and continues, “me included.”
The robots will work together with staff on medium-volume products with the goal of yielding efficient automation and ergonomic assembly. Compared to traditional robots, collaborative robots are easier to program, smaller and can work alongside humans thanks to built-in sensors. Gunnar adds, “Safety is our top priority, and with collaborative robots we’ll create a safer workplace.”
Flexibility to stay alive
That’s what it all comes down to. The key factor is to be quick and adapt. The new production set-up will enable CEJN’s machine park to be more flexible. It will improve our product quality and we’ll be able to produce more innovative and complex products. Gunnar continues, “The new lathes from INDEX will be designated for our high-volume components. And the finish will be first class.” He shows me two components, one produced using a current lathe and one produced by the INDEX 22-8. The difference is clear to see. The product produced by the INDEX 22-8 is premium; just by looking at the finish you can tell, this is CEJN. “Two of the three INDEX machines will be here in Skövde, and the last one at our production facility in Lönsboda”.
Automated material handling and bar storage solutions
We just broke ground on a 1000m2 extension; in other words, it’s just a big sandbox right now. Gunnar shows me the drawings for the extension and reasons, “Manufacturing will need more space in the future, so we’ll move the raw material into this new extension.” And the extension will benefit from modernisation too. Automated bar storage and a fully-automatic chip management system will be installed. “We’ll be using our space more wisely with the bar system. And the chip management system will make the separation process more environmentally friendly than at present.”
Warehouse robot system
The material handling process will also be getting a make-over, to improve service levels, reduce costs and free up space. To achieve this, a cubical automated warehouse robot system and self-navigating autonomous transport robots will be installed. I ask Gunnar if we’re going to feel like we’re walking into a sci-fi movie when entering our production facility a couple of years from now. Gunnar laughs and explains the brilliance of it all. “Like the bar storage, we need to make smarter use of our space. Imagine the space we’d have if we didn’t need the truck lanes in the warehouse. We need to think height, compactness and fixed sizes. It’s both cost and space efficient. The transport robots will allow our staff to focus on the actual product and value-adding tasks.”
The eSafe automation project
“Gunnar, tell me, is there more?” I’m looking at him, thinking, There can’t be anything else. We’re doing everything. “Well, there is the eSafe automation project.” I can’t stop myself from smiling, thinking, Well, of course there is! He shows me a 3D graphic of the line. “It’s a fully-automatic assembly line, due to be ready by April 2017. It’s needed to accommodate sales growth of CEJN eSafe - today and tomorrow. One plus point with this new assembly is the improved quality of the product.”
Dedicated staff are the key
The coffee is cold, the table full of drawings and it’s time to wrap things up. But before we finish, I ask him what he feels is the key to successful implementation. Gunnar leans forward and starts to collect the papers on the table, “I’m grateful that I have such an innovative and dedicated team of staff. We need to have everyone on board if we are going to succeed. And I believe we do.” I nod. I believe CEJN is full of passionate employees. I meet them every day. And it is definitely one of the reasons why we’re able to stay at the forefront of technological development. We believe in innovation and in the future of CEJN.
Text Jill Elmshorn, CEJN AB