Brimor was seeking a compact solution that was easy to use and suited to a production environment where short set-up times are essential. It is an investment decision that is already reaping dividends, with the automated loading of up to 100 workpieces helping Brimor release staff to work on other machines and in different roles.

Chris Harley, managing director at Brimor Engineering, explains: “Many of our precision components and assemblies head for the automotive industry, so there is a lot of pressure on making sure you deliver high-quality parts in short lead times. As a small manufacturer, we have to be clever in our approach to achieving this, so we pinpointed the need to automate the loading process on one of our CNCs to help us continue production through the night.”

He continues: “This is where ETG came into the equation and guided us through the different technology options until we settled on the Halter LoadAssistant. It is our first investment in robotics and has fitted seamlessly into our Blandford Forum factory, potentially saving up to four weeks of production time every year.

“We’ve had a really strong 2018 and, now we’ve released additional capacity, we want to go after new opportunities in sectors that are looking for precision complex components and speed of delivery.”

ETG, which is a distributor for Halter CNC Automation in the UK, quickly identified the right solution, specified the robot and completed delivery. One of ETG’s experts has already trained three Brimor staff on the system, which includes a rotating loading table, Fanuc 6-axis robotic arm, Halter SmartControl and operator console with 15” touchscreen.

“Our technical experts have seen a significant increase in the number of ‘lights-out’ projects we’re taking on, where we work with subcontractors to explore the possibility of producing components through the night without any labour costs,” says Steve Brown, sales director at ETG. “Advancements in technology mean this scenario is not purely the domain of the big boys with millions of pounds set aside to introduce it. No, instead, SMEs like Brimor Engineering are switching on to the benefits that this new industrial trend can bring.

“Although the key driver of ‘lights-out’ is to reduce labour costs, it is also possible to save money in other areas of the business,” he continues. “Having longer production through the night will create more time to do shorter batch runs during the day, for example.”