CNC machining and robot technology

Challenge

Strong international competition and pressure to provide intelligent solutions to stay competitive and a wish to reduce heavy lifting and worn-out employees.

Solutions

A semi-automatically production line: A combination of CNC-machines to process the faucet and robot technology to load, unload and polish the faucets.

Costs

Large investments in CNC-machines since the 1980’s and more recent investments in robot technology.

Result

Significant improvement in lead time and a better work environment with less dependence on manual work and heavy lifts.

Introduction

FM Mattsson Mora Group is one of the largest producers of water taps and thermostatic mixers in the Nordics. The company sells and produces under the brands, Mora Armartur, FM Mattsson and Damixa.

The company was founded in 1865 in Mora, Sweden, where the production is also located today. The production of faucets and mixers under the brands Mora Armartur and FM Mattsson is manufactured in Mora, Sweden. And the manufacturing of water fittings under the brand Damixa is located in Odense, Denmark. Three years ago, some of the production (assembly of garden mixers and some brass components) was located in China. Due to their investment in automation, FM Mattson has managed to move their production back to Sweden.

Increased international competition

According to FM Mattsson Mora Group, the company has a leading position in the Nordic market for water taps and mixers, especially in Sweden and Denmark. Even though the company has strong and well-established brands, it is still facing high competition from other companies, especially from low wage countries. To maintain its position in the market, FM Mattsson Mora Group needs to offer a price competitive product, meaning that production costs have to be kept at a minimum by reducing the delivery time and increasing the production process.

“In the last 10 years, we have witnessed a tougher market due to globalization and competition from low wage countries. And with our manufacturing here in the village in Mora, we have seen a great need to focus on our productivity. We have therefore taken decisions to improve automation in the production and also work with the lean production philosophy”

- Fredrik Skarp
CEO in FM Mattsson Mora Group

FM Mattsson Mora Group has therefore established a semi-full automatic production line in their factory in Mora, Sweden. This means using a combination of ABB Industrial Robots and CNC-machines.

The CNC-machine is where all processing takes place. CNC-machines are an essential part of the production of faucets due to the heavy job of cutting, drilling and turning. Therefore, the company has been investing in CNC-machines since the 1980’s. More recently, FM Mattson Mora group has invested in new CNC-lines due to the launch of lead-free faucets and thereby, needing to strengthen the cutting, drilling and turning of the brass.

“The launch of the lead-free faucets has also demanded large investments in production machinery. Brass processing without lead is harder than traditional brass and places more strain on the machines”

- Mats Westman
Production Manager, FM Mattsson Mora Group

What is a CNC-machine?

CNC is short for Computer Numeric Control and is the automation of machine tools that are operated by precisely programmed commands encoded on a computer. Modern CNC-machines combine multiple tools such as cutting, drilling and turning into a single machine.

Today, all processing of brass is handled by CNC-machines, such as Mazak Hyper Quadrex 200MSY and Mazak Multiplex 6250th. These CNC-machines are multi-tasking turning machines with high-volume throughput. They are able to process the cutting and drilling, all the way from raw material to finished part in a single setup.

Furthermore, FM Mattsson Mora Group has in recent years invested in different types of ABB Industrial Robots designed to support the CNC-machines by doing simple industrial tasks such as loading, sorting and handling in the processing of faucets and mixers.

Industrial robots from ABB have replaced human interaction in the manufacturing process. Today, the process is fully automated because industrial robots can handle all the movements between the forming of the main body, and drilling and milling of the faucet, which is performed by CNC-machines. Lastly, industrial robots have replaced the manual grinding and polishing process. 

ABB Industrial Robots

ABB is one of the leading suppliers of industrial robots and have a range of products depending on the performances needed. The ABB-robots used at the FM Mattsonn Mora Group are integrated in the production line due to a custom-designed programming made in cooperation with ABB.

Results: Reduced lead time and better work conditions

FM Mattsson Mora Groups considerable investments in automation have been a very important factor in increasing production capacity. The CNC-machines can produce faucets with a high volume and at a competitive price. The industrial robots have also significantly reduced the lead time, enhancing the company’s ability to stay competitive and maintain their leading position in the market.

From an eight-year perspective, the company has been able to reduce the time it takes to produce a faucet from start to finish by more than one month.

“For the high volume products that we work with every day, we are down to a lead time of four days from start to finish. Eight years ago it used to be 40 days”

- Mats Westerman
Production Manager in FM Mattsson Mora Group

A very significant result in terms of reduced lead time can be seen in the grinding and polishing process. The company has managed to reduce the time for a faucet to be grinded and polished by several hours in comparison with doing the work manually.

“Just a couple of years ago, it took 4-6 hours for our worker to change products in grinding and polishing with the old equipment, but after we have installed the industrial robots suited for the job, it takes only 10 minutes. Now we can do a lot more and keep the stocks low”

- Mats Westerman
Production Manager in FM Mattsson Mora Group

According to Fredrik Skarp, CEO in FM Mattsson Mora Group, another important result is the improved working conditions for workers in the factory. Previously, the CNC-machines were loaded and unloaded using heavy lifts and there was a very fixed work rhythm, but today this process is automated using the ABB Industrial Robots.

“The automation is of course very important in terms of efficiency, but also an important issue for our work environment. We used to have certain moments where the workers used heavy lifts, but we have managed to reduce those work moments significantly”

- Fredrik Skarp
CEO in FM Mattsson Mora Group

In addition, the company can offer more interesting work tasks for the employees, Fredrik Skarp states. As a result of automation, new types of competencies are required. This means that the company needs to continually train and teach their employees new technical engineering skills, but also recruit new employees with a more technical education, such as engineers and machine operators.

In this way, the company has managed to increase their capacity in terms of a more skilled work force and the capacity to develop machines and find solutions to any problem that occurs on the production line.

As a result of the company’s decision to automate their production line, FM Mattsson Mora Group managed, in 2013, to move the assembly of Garden Mixers and some brass components back to Sweden from China. Today there is no production in China, and instead, 12 new jobs have been created in Mora.

 “Three years ago we actually managed to insource some of our production back from China. That is a really great result in terms of the city we live in, that we can create job opportunities, but also that we can produce everything in-house and reduce some of the transportation costs and make a better environmental impact”

- Fredrik Skarp
CEO in FM Mattsson Mora Group