Fastems delivered its 1,000th unit of the Flexible Pallet Container (FPC). Designed 23 years ago to meet the need for fast-to-deploy and easy-to-purchase automation for virtually any horizontal milling machine tool, FPC has been integrated with hundreds of different machine tool models.
Metal cutting manufacturers throughout the world have implemented FPCs. The factory-tested milling CNC automation unit ships in fewer than 10 weeks and takes a day to install, according to Fastems.
Developed in 2000 for the growing need to automate multiple horizontal machining centers easily, affordably and fast, FPC is a flexible manufacturing system accommodating up to three machining centers and eight to 40 machining pallets of 400 to 1,000 mm. Used by CNC manufacturers in various industries such as aerospace, defense, machine building and subcontracting, 179 of the 1,000 FPCs delivered have been extended to accommodate more machine tools.
“We are very proud of what our customers have already achieved with the help of FPC,” explained Fastems CEO Mikko Nyman. “FPC is designed for economic high-mix manufacturing. It must be clear as to what to machine and when, easy to introduce new workpieces into production and affordable to run orders of any size. Otherwise, there will always be machines waiting, machines on idle and some machines that have a huge pile of orders waiting to be processed. Without production flexibility, the shop’s machining capacity can never be fully utilized.”
The very first FPC was delivered in 2001 to Germany for an automotive manufacturer, and after, an upgrade in 2014 and a relocation in 2020, it is in use today by a Turkish subcontracting company that works with various industries such as railway, agriculture, mining and elevators, according to Fastems.
Since its first launch, FPC has been developed to match current manufacturing needs; when compared to the original system, the FPC of 2024 comes in five size categories for 750 to 3,000 kg payloads and extra-small versions for tight spaces. In addition, ergonomic improvements have been made for the system software and hardware, many of them originating from the feedback collected from FPC users.
The 1,000th FPC was delivered to Finnish technology company Avant Tecno, a global manufacturer of multi-functional loaders (Figure 1). By automating, Avant Tecno increased its manufacturing capacity of joints and boom fins for its 400-800 loader series. The FPC is integrated with an Okuma MA-600 HIII machine tool. “We aim to double our manufacturing capacity within the next five years,” said Jani Käkelä, CEO of Avant Tecno. “Every loader we manufacture is unique and of high quality. Our modular design allows every customer to get a solution that fits perfectly for their needs. We produce per order, so we need to be able to run low volumes of various components efficiently. This is why we selected the Fastems FPC for our machining automation.”