A few years back, MTU Aero Engines, a leading German engine manufacturer, began the construction of an all-new production hall dedicated to the manufacturing of individual components used in aero engines.
To maximize the production capacity of its machine tools, MTU signed a contract with Fastems for the delivery of an automation solution, a Fastems Multi-Level System (MLS).
According to Pasi Kauhanen, Team Manager, Software Development, Fastems, the delivery was among the most challenging ones in Fastems’ recent history.
“The project took us years to complete, and it was indeed a great challenge for us,” says Kauhanen. “MTU being a manufacturer of aero engines, it was always clear that the demands were going to be very strict. In the aerospace industry the design specifications are as strict as they can get, and everything has to be tested thoroughly.”
Fastems has delivered a Multi-Level System (MLS) to MTU’s manufacturing facility in Bavaria, Germany. (Image courtesy of Fastems)
To the Next Level
Each of the components produced in MTU’s new production facility is unique and goes through its own complex set of operations.
“Usually, the production of a component involves a handful of operations, perhaps only two or three of them,” Kauhanen points out. “In this case, however, the average number of operations is somewhere around 100. That is a massive number!”
The production is indeed so complex that the lead-time of a single component can be months. And with up to thirty machine tools at work simultaneously, there can be as many as 1,500 unique orders active in the system at any given moment. Needless to say, the automation in such production facility has to be honed to perfection.
The system delivered by Fastems plays a critical role in MTU’s production, and that is why the project turned out to be such an enormous challenge. But the people at Fastems see it as a good thing – after all, overcoming great challenges and walking a road paved with adversities does have a tendency to create even stronger players.
Pertti Lukkari, Director, Software Products, agrees, pointing out that the project was in many ways an important milestone for Fastems. In recent years, the company has been gradually shifting from being a manufacturer of automation machinery towards a stronger focus on the software involved.
“The project with MTU was a perfect opportunity for us to learn, because it involved a complex system that simply allowed no mistakes whatsoever,” Lukkari states. “Having delivered both the automation machinery and the software to such a demanding project, Fastems has been able to develop and take its business to an entirely new level. After this one, I would say we can pull off pretty much anything.”
And how about MTU? For 25 years, the company thought that manufacturing-intensive production cannot be profitable in the high-cost Bavaria region. However, investing in the automation of manufacturing and workflow management has turned out to be just the solution to prove this false.
Text and main image by Industrial PRIME
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