Says manager Emanuele Astolfi: “Reducing lead times has become a fundamental component of our strategy. It is what differentiates us from our competitors. From planning to completion, a tool will undergo up to 15 production steps that we currently realise in about six days. This took us as many as 15 days some 10 years ago.”

The company, which deliberately chose machining centres to make the tools, attempted to optimise all of the production processes. It looked for systems that would facilitate machine-integrated quality control, yet allow direct access during each production phase, in order to correct any deviations immediately.

Six years ago, after deciding to purchase Blum Novotest inspection equipment (01283 569691), Alumat installed multiple systems to check workpiece position and dimensions across its machine fleet. The TC50 touch-probe system operates at a speed of 3 m/min and automatically corrects for thermal expansion. Micro-Compact NT and Mini NT laser measuring instruments perform contactless tool checking and measurement, despite the interference of coolant and chips, thanks to a protection system for the laser optics and also blowing nozzles for tool cleaning. The hardwired Z-MT toolsetting probe, equipped with the Shark360 measuring mechanism featuring integrated face gear, said to be suited to horizontal machining and turning centres, performs contact tool measurement, breakage detection, measurement of length and radius, as well as axis compensation.

Following their successful installation at Alumat, these measuring systems were also introduced at sister companies Almax of Italy, and Matrex of Solanki, Greece.

Concludes Astolfi: “The Blum Novotest products have definitely proven themselves in recent years. This is why we decided to gradually replace the systems from other manufacturers. Our Blum measuring technology facilitates precise, reliable and competitive production. The customer service provided to us by the Italian branch of the German metrology specialist also played a decisive part. The reaction time of the experts employed at Blum is extremely short and very supportive.”

This article was first published in the September 2016 issue of Machinery magazine.