FB Chain specialise in supplying leaf chain and leaf chain anchor bolts for material handling equipment such as forklift trucks.
They supply ready-to-install leaf chain kits to customers across the globe, including Italy and the US.
Prior to their relationship with HALTER and 1st MTA, the company had a bank of single indexers – at one point, they had 8 indexers to a machine. To produce their chains, FB Chain had an operator who would load the parts, turn the machine on and then unload the parts.
“This was a very manual process.” – Peter Church, Managing Director (FB Chain)
Following his takeover as Managing Director, Peter Church developed a strategy for doubling the company’s turnover, capacity and throughput over the next five years.
According to Peter, doubling turnover meant the company would have to double output.
While this plan sounds simple, the logistics of doubling output with their previous production efforts was close to impossible. The biggest hurdle was manpower: the company were already struggling to fill shifts during the day – doubling output would mean round-the-clock shifts.
For Peter, automation was the answer.
Because filling 24/7 shifts was impossible, FB Chain settled on automation as the means to significantly increase their productivity.
The last challenges to beat were finding the right automation partner and overcoming the reluctance operators had to using robots on the shop floor.
While FB Chain invested in their first HALTER LoadAssistant in 2014, their relationship with 1st MTA began in 2015 with the purchase of Kitagawa rotary table chucking systems.
FB Chain worked closely with 1st MTA to ensure their new rotary tables interfaced correctly with the HALTER arm for the loading and unloading of parts.
Since their partnership with 1st MTA, FB Chain have completed a total of 6 HALTER installations, with another in the works.
These robots granted FB Chains significant night-time production capacity and reduced their reliance on finding trained staff – both of which were necessary to reach their lofty growth targets.
Since investing in HALTER robots, FB Chain’s production has grown progressively. Not only did they hit their turnover target, they’ve doubled their output twice over.
“Automation has changed the way we do so many things. We’ve been growing at a phenomenal rate for ten years. We wouldn’t have been able to grow at that rate without automation” – Peter Church
Each HALTER robot can run unmanned for up to 19 hours per day, meaning 120 hours of production are available to the company every week per LoadAssistant. This result has been produced partly through the custom 408-component grid plate supplied by HALTER for use in their Universal series robots.
FB Chains credit their HALTER robots with incredible repeatability and fault-free machining. In fact, an estimated 500,000 parts have moved through their first HALTER arm without fault, requiring only routine maintenance.
“There have been no issues whatsoever” – 1MTA
Since installing their HALTER LoadAssistants, FB Chain’s operators have been upskilled to run the robots and find further efficiencies in the facility’s processes.
According to Peter Church, the introduction of automation has released the team to pursue “high-value activity”. With the “dull” work of loading and unloading handled by the robots, staff are freed up to be trained and developed.
HALTER LoadAssistants are operated using their exceptional SmartControl – a user-friendly HMI that allows programming in under 5 minutes with simple prompts.
“The thing we love about HALTER is its simplicity – it’s plug-and-play. And, with the right partner, you can overcome any challenge.” – Peter Church
For FB Chain, the combination of fantastic support from 1st MTA and exceptional robots from HALTER has been a winning formula.
HALTER LoadAssistants offer a pain-free and relatively inexpensive route into automation for manufacturers across Europe.
“With HALTER, we’re able to provide a complete solution to the customer – including the workholding.” – Marcus Hamlyn, 1st MTA
The UK is already behind on automation compared to the other major economies of Europe like Germany, Italy and France. For manufacturers to keep up with the rest of the world, it’s essential to increase efficiency and cost-effectiveness while reducing operational costs and an over-reliance on staff.
HALTER LoadAssistants are a brilliant option for keeping your CNC manufacturing viable in the years to come.
Interested in knowing more?
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