Skandia Elevator in Sweden is the first user company in Europe to run its production operations using the AMADA Blank-to-Bend concept – with two AMADA CS compact storage systems interfaced with three AMADA EM punching machines. This has allowed the market leader to more than triple its sales. And with two new AMADA HG press brakes also integrated in the process, the company is making itself even more competitive.
Skandia Elevator AB, which is headquartered in the Swedish city of Vara, is Europe’s leading manufacturer of conveyor systems for the cereal industry and offers the greatest range of conveyors and elevators on the market. The company’s grain loading and unloading systems are designed as modular solutions manufactured from galvanized steel and can transport between 30 and 600 tonnes of grain per hour. Every year, the company manufactures more than 2,000 systems which are sold in 28 countries. Skandia Elevator was founded in 1914 by the grandfather of the present owners, Joakim and Jonas Larsson. A milestone in the success story of the family-owned company was achieved in 1975 with the introduction of the export business model, which now accounts for 80 percent of sales. Another outstanding strength lies in Skandia Elevator’s comprehensive service offering. One example of this is the annual product training courses held directly at Skandia’s premises in Vara. “Made in Sweden is an important factor giving stability to our well-known brand. In addition, we offer very high product quality, allowing us to achieve a 10 to 15 percent boost in sales prices. At the same time, operating in Sweden means that we have to optimize the machine uptimes in order to remain competitive,” explains Jonas Larsson, Vice President of Skandia Elevator.
Competitive edge thanks to AMADA
The close relations between Skandia Elevator and AMADA have also played an important role in cementing the company’s market leadership in Europe. This relationship goes back more than 30 years to 1989, when the company purchased its first AMADA ARIES punching machine. The second AMADA machine arrived at the company in 2001 in the form of an AMADA VIPROS punching machine with automation. This machine gave the company a competitive advantage thanks to its forming capabilities. In 2007, Jonas and Joakim Larsson visited AMADA’s headquarters in Japan. On returning from this trip, they invested in their first AMADA CS compact storage system, which was connected to an AMADA EM punching machine. As Jonas Larsson explains: “This investment had actually been planned to provide future capacity. However, due to the high demand, it very soon came online. The AMADA EM CS solution allowed us to increase sales by 98 percent within a year. This was the result not only of our expansion into Eastern Europe but also of the increase in biofuel production in the USA, which had an impact on global markets. At that time, grain was the new gold.”
Minimized production times
To increase its competitiveness still further, Skandia Elevator introduced Lean Production in 2006. The period also saw a trend towards smaller manufacturing runs. These factors persuaded the company to switch over to machines equipped with automatic tool change functions. In 2012, Skandia acquired a second AMADA CS compact storage line with a capacity of 741 tonnes and two EM punching machines with automatic tool changer. “The tool change function was very important in permitting unstaffed changes between different material thicknesses,” emphasizes Larsson. Since the installation of the first AMADA CS compact storage line and after a total of more than 50,000 hours of operation, Skandia Elevator’s sales have more than tripled. The reason for this lies in the company’s increased manufacturing efficiency: “Ten years ago, our typical batch size was 250 units, now it’s only about 45. It was automation that gave us the flexibility we needed. Whereas production took 24 hours in the past, now only one hour is required,” explains Larsson.
Bending operations also benefit
Skandia Elevator’s most recent investments consist of two AMADA press brakes: the HG and HG-ATC. These are also connected to the AMADA CS storage system and round off the manufacturing environment with the custom-configured AMADA Blank-to-Bend concept. The machines, which are programmed using AMADA’s offline bending software, are so efficient that it was possible to do without a second shift for a period of five weeks. What is more, thanks to this solution, whereas 4 operators were responsible for 2 machines in the past, 2 operators are now able to run 3 machines. Other benefits: “Thanks to the automatic functionality of the programming software, we have been able to cut programming times by 75 percent. What’s more, if we have 3D parts data available to us, then the machining times are only half of those involved when working with 2D data,” reports Jonas Larsson. The use of the automatic tool changer (ATC) has reduced tooling times to 20 minutes per batch across all bending operations, including all material handling activities. The inline angle measurement system has also contributed to the company’s lean approach and has rendered the production of two or three test parts for quality assurance purposes unnecessary. Last but not least, the ease of use of the AMADA AMNC 3i machine controller ensured that it was very warmly received by the personnel. For example, one operator, who only recently joined the company, was able to work with the AMADA HG-ATC inside of 15 minutes.
The right solution
“Our philosophy when making capital investments is to think of future capacity requirements, not about the present. The solution must permit continuous improvements and enhance the working environment,” is how Jonas Larsson sums things up. “We trust AMADA to provide the right solution to meet our needs.”
Images: AMADA GmbH