Machine first for PE engineering firms

Cindy Preller

THE first rotary transfer machine built in South Africa is the handiwork of three companies based in Port Elizabeth.

The eight-station rotary transfer machine – which can cut, drill and shape aluminium components – was developed, designed and built by Granroth Engineering, in collaboration with Hansens Engineering and Haldan Consulting.

While Haldan Consulting will oversee the integrated production management system of the machine, it will be housed at Hansens and used to make components for airconditioning units.

No other machine of its kind had been built in South Africa, Hansens Engineering managing director Erik Hagedorn-Hansen said.

“The success of this project is founded on entrepreneurial spirit and the disruption of the status quo. In essence, this is what is needed to continue igniting development in SA.”

The project was embarked on in May to optimise machining processes at Hansens Engineering, which produces components for the global automotive industry. With the addition of the rotary machine, the company’s projected unit volume will almost double next year with 20 million parts, Hagedorn-Hansen said. The unit volume for this year is currently projected at 11 million parts.

Nicknamed “Thor”, the machine is able to perform all the necessary steps and processes in making a component, whereas before the processes had to be executed on individual machines.

Granroth Engineering director Richard Warren said the company believed the success of any project was deeply rooted in planning.

“This is why we are currently expanding our research and development team so that we can bring our products to the market faster.”

Even though the rotary transfer machine was the pilot project for neighbouring company Hansens, Granroth managing director Simon Halse said the R4-million machine would also be produced for other companies towards the second half of next year.

Haldan Consulting, the sister company of Hansens Engineering, will monitor the machine’s effectiveness through a manufacturing execution system (MES).

This software system reports losses with real-time feedback and can be viewed directly from anywhere inside the factory or remotely on a mobile device, Haldan Consulting project manager Laverne Louis said.

“I have always believed that good decisions are based on information and not instinct. That is why the new rotary transfer machine will benefit from the MES’ objective information about its effectiveness. It will encourage and facilitate future improvement,” he said.

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