A golden celebration

Uploaded 27 Jul @ 15:49pm

With the Biesse Group celebrating 50 successful years in business, M&MT recently visited the company’s global headquarters in Pesaro, Italy to discover more. Here, its impressive 190,000 m2 facilities is constantly evolving to match the demands of its various customers, and it is adopting industry leading lean manufacturing techniques to keep the business on track.
With a global presence in 120 countries, Biesse has subsidiaries in every key industrial area and is supported in others by a reliable dealer network. Its extensive product range, backup service and support, as well as the experience and comprehensive skills of the circa 1,400 staff within the company, are all vital elements to the success of Biesse.
Historically, Biesse produced woodworking machinery and this is still an important part of the business. However, in parallel with the growth of advanced lightweight materials it has been developing machine tools to support companies applying these materials to end products. “Fibre-based and non-ferrous materials used in the automotive and aerospace sectors reduce weight which subsequently lowers the consumption of gasoline. Advances in such materials demands production solutions, and Biesse set up a dedicated division to support this around 5 years ago with a range for the machining of plastics, composites and thermoformed materials,” says Massimiliano Prioli, Product Manager for Advanced Materials.
For the advanced materials division, the challenge changes every day as new high-performance materials are developed, with different specifications and a customer base that needs to work with it to gain the maximum advantage.

Built to order
All of its machines are built to order, which allows for extensive customisation to meet the exact requirements of the end user. Thanks to efficient production planning and an assembly method akin to the track build philosophy used by the automotive industry.
Just one of the assembly halls produces 1,200 machines each year. Housekeeping and ergonomics are all treated as priority areas. As Massimiliano Prioli explains: “Our attention to every detail is crucial as it translates into the care that goes into the machines we produce.”
To control both quality and delivery, Biesse prides itself on manufacturing almost every part of its product range in-house. An extensive machine shop ensures the structure of the machines are accurate to within a few microns, while an array of high-end CNC multi axis metal cutting machines produce the various components. One of the latest investments in the machine shop is a multi-pallet robot loaded FMS that operates around-the-clock to meet the demand from the assembly shop. There are just 2 days’ worth of stock, so lean manufacturing principles are applied to maintain efficiencies.
A key part of the performance of the machines comes from the capability of the electro spindles used to cut the customers materials. So, Biesse has its own specialist spindle manufacturer, HSD. A globally renowned spindle producer, the company makes electro spindle solutions for many machine tool companies as well as supplying Biesse.
Within assembly the efficiency of the track build method can be clearly seen. Here, kits of parts and sub-assemblies are delivered to the track side to minimise wasted movement and material handling aids have been developed to ensure any strain or injury risks to the staff are negligible. There is also a welcome lack of noise, something the company has worked hard to keep under control.

Totally automatic
Automation was a significant area of interest for most UK manufacturing companies, and Biesse certainly has plenty to offer in this arena. It is looked after by the company’s Systems department which develops dedicated solutions for customers with an impressive array of turn-key automation projects under its belt. Here, a total of about 150 staff work with 30 focused on engineering and sales internally and a further 20 more dedicated to it within the subsidiary network.
Massimiliano Prioli says: “Industrial robotic installations worldwide continue to grow, our customers see the benefits of using robotics to address many business bottlenecks and within our Technology Centre we have two machines loaded by robots, from Fanuc and Kuka. We also use robots to load and unload the Toyoda machining centres in our flexible production system. These machines can work 24/7 unmanned.”
From robot loading and unloading of machines using established industrial robotic partners’ solutions, to the impressive Biesse Winstore system. Winstore is an automated magazine for the optimised management of panels that guarantees production with reduced times and costs. It can be integrated into nesting and sizing cells with a significant increase in productivity. The system can sort multiple material stacks and organise materials to match the production schedule with minimal input, with the goal of extended ‘lights out’ operation.
“Industry 4.0 will increase in its reach within many businesses,” Massimiliano Prioli states, “Big companies must consider it, they have to. Without it they will not be considered a big company. And, it is filtering down to the smaller companies in the supply chains. Competition between companies in Europe is fierce, if you are not thinking about technology, delivery and exceeding the customers’ demands you have lost to the opposition. Suppliers will need to speak the same Industry 4.0 language otherwise they will miss out. Your top clients want to see how you produce, how you move the materials, how you do everything. It is open and transparent.”

Staffed for the future
Every business understands the importance of attracting and retaining staff. For Biesse, it is located near a number of significant universities. “We are lucky,” Massimiliano Prioli confirms, “because we are near to Bologna, established in 1088 as the first university in the world, and also Ancona which has a strong engineering base, both supply us with students of engineering for our technical departments and also commercial operations.
“We have an open communication conduit with the academic establishments, so we are aware of top graduates and, moreover, the universities explain Biesse to new students, so they understand what we do. This extends beyond the local area as many universities worldwide have technical areas where they produce workpieces using our machines to teach the student how to produce parts leading to an early engagement with the company.”

Technology on show
Although it is impressive, plans are already underway to increase the Technology Centre, where most of the various machine tool types produced by Biesse are set up and ready for customers to test and evaluate their performance ability.
Around one third of the current Technology Centre is dedicated to customers in the high-performance materials sector. With quick change sawing systems able to accurately cut to size; edge and surface finishing systems offering high through feed rates for efficiency; self-contained Terma thermoforming system to create complex parts, and 5-axis CNC machining of all engineering plastics and lightweight metals with the Materia range.
So, where next for Biesse? “The next steps include increasing the product range of machinery with more capability, and also bigger machines with larger axis travels. We are also looking at additive manufacturing, we use this technology within Biesse and we are looking at hybrid machines that could offer advantages to our customers. Additive is a new challenge and it may take 3 or 4 years to come to market. We know from experience you have to arrive in the market when the market is ready, when it is prepared for technology and capability on offer,” Massimiliano Prioli concludes.

Further reading: www.biesse.com

 

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