Projects and Features
Driving efficiency in steel fabrication
Ficep is continually developing new ideas and technologies to meet the needs of its customers and industries served by its steel processing equipment
There’s no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of automation in many areas of manufacturing. The personnel limitations imposed by social distancing requirements have resulted in staff reductions and shop floor shortages, which in turn have impacted productivity.
This has led many steelwork contractors to investigate automated systems for structural steel processing that combine smart software, smart production machines, and smart handling systems. Together, these advanced technologies enable intelligent steel fabrication through the optimisation of plant layouts, processing efficiency and productivity across factories.
As more and more steelwork contractors turn to automation over the coming years, Ficep is well placed to support them. The business devotes 5% of its annual profits to new product development to meet the needs of modern fabricators and help them adapt to industry changes and challenges. From machinery to service and tooling, steel processors will be looking to improve worker safety and become leaner operations. Delivering business-wide efficiencies will remain a driving force, and automation will be key.
Joining the dots
Business efficiency does not start and end on the production line. The ability to integrate production and material planning; digitised workshop management through to transport management, with production analysis capability, is where people need to look to achieve overall productivity improvements.
Ficep’s proprietary software, Steel Projects PLM, makes the link between the detailing office, the production office, and the workshop to help optimise workflow. BIM compatible, and designed to integrate with other popular Enterprise Resource Plannng (ERP) and management information systems such as Tekla PowerFab and STRUMIS, the software integrates back-office management systems with the shop floor to run projects from design to finished product.
It also tracks production information to provide real-time analysis. Data can be customised to track the performance indicators that matter in your business, with custom reports and KPI analysis available at any time, and at the touch of a button, via the Steel Projects PLM app.
Shop floor innovation
Taking this holistic view across the entire production facility enables Ficep to identify opportunities for productivity gains in all areas of business operations. One recent example of this is the addition of tool vending machines to the company’s portfolio in 2020, which is giving steelwork contractors greater control over their tool stock inventory and saving them both time and money.
The vending machines make tools and consumables readily accessible for on-site operators. A swipe card system allows registered operators to select the item they need and the machine registers what is taken, when, and by whom, providing full traceability.
The Ficep team manages the tooling stock remotely, streamlining the process still further, reducing admin time and eliminating delivery time for customers. Additional time and administrative savings are made through automated weekly and monthly stock monitoring, which generates reports that enable the Ficep team to replenish tooling stock when required with no input required from the customer.
The final piece in the jigsaw
When a CNC machine sits at the heart of your production line, downtime is not an option. Making sure your equipment remains in optimal working condition is vital for achieving long-term productivity.
Proactive maintenance may not be top of your list when your machines are in good working order, but the second that an undetected fault causes production to grind to a halt and productivity levels to plummet, it may be time to call Ficep UK to discuss a service contract.
Ficep UK recognises the value of proactive maintenance and offers a number of flexible service contract options, including a custom option that enables customers to plan a schedule for CNC machine maintenance and service that is tailored to their business, machines, and manufacturing processes. The outcome is greater efficiency, peace of mind, and a lower risk of unplanned downtime; something everyone involved with steel construction is striving for.
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