FELCO's magazine - Online version
Sébastien Nussbaum_Nijaz Talovic

Straight from the workshop: Straight from the workshop

Numerical control: the secrets of successful migration

Six years ago, Sébastien Nussbaum began to migrate the production of blades from a conventional process to digital machines. Return on a successful experiment.

Sébastien Nussbaum, head of machining at FELCO, is not short of praise for the CNC (computer numerical control) machines: "we currently have a very stable and above all very flexible production process".
"I joined FELCO in 2005, explains Sébastien Nussbaum, and my mission was to bring CNC technology and robotics into the workshops". Posing in front of three CNC machines, he says: "the first machine was installed in 2006, the second in 2010 and the last in June of this year".

Increased productivity

These new machines carry out the three grinding operations (grinding/cutting, beveling and sharpening) all at once. Once these various phases are carried out, the blade is cleaned and goes straight to the Assembly unit.
The most significant, obvious first advantage upon viewing the process: a much smoother workflow. With the old configuration, the flow was divided into three batches. It was therefore necessary to manage the intermediate stocks for each machine, with consequently, greater levels of outstanding production.
The second advantage lies with the fact that the time during which it is possible to manufacture the blades is extended. These new machines are in operation from 5 to 10 pm with human supervision. From 10 pm, they work... all alone!
And they are also work during weekends. "We manage to produce 8 to 9,000 blades during the weekend!", says Sebastian.
The migration of the production of the blades to the CNC machines is now almost completed. It started with "the most exotic blades", such as those of the FELCO 230, 231 or even 800. It was carried out on the small size blades, which was ideal to begin the migration. The second phase concerned the large size blades (FELCO 2 and 7, the "stars"of FELCO). The FELCO 5 and 160 still remain to be migrated, which will take place at the end of the year 2013.

A successful conversion

To ensure migration is successful, we must of course resolve technical challenges, but the human challenge is equally important: employees had to be trained. Faithful to its tradition, FELCO has promoted internal promotion. Volunteers have returned to school to complete their robotics training and courses. They have thus acquired fundamental mechanics concepts in order to become CNC machine operators. In terms of sought-after qualities, Sebastian also stated that such persons should "be very attentive and very composed".
After ten years spent in the Assembly workshop, Nijaz Talovic wanted to change roles and evolve within FELCO. "I discussed it with Mr. Nicolet, who asked me to come into the CNC workshop, I immediately accepted".
Sébastien Nussbaum suggested a 3-month course at le Locle, at CIFOM (interregional center of training of the Neuchâtel mountains) two times per week. "I’ve learned the basics and I was able to put them into practice in the workshop, with the support of my colleagues."
When he arrives in the morning, Nijaz Talovic begins by checking the parts produced during the night. He then loads the machine and launches a new production. In the event of a change of series, he enters the new machine and robot settings.
Today, Nijaz Talovic is "thrilled with this development: I have more responsibility and additionally my salary has improved!"I sometimes ask myself why I didn’t undertaken this process earlier!"