- April 30, 2020
Quebec shop's robotic bending cell is just the latest in a series of automation investments
Keeping up with demand and attracting new business
Consistent, strategic investment in innovative technology, automation and facility expansions
In just the past five years, Drummondville, Que.-based Matritech has added a TRUMPF TruBend 7000 robotic bending cell and a TruLaser 5030 to its lineup of shop floor technologies. But this kind of investment isn’t an unusual move for the job shop. In fact, if you look at the company’s evolution over the years, it has consistently invested in automation and floor space since it started 30 years ago as a die design and fabrication company in a 3,200-square-foot facility.
Today it operates as a one-stop-shop for sheet metal tooling and stamping in a 7,897 sq m (85,000 sq ft) facility, and since it was founded it has invested more than $15 million in fixed assets. “For Matritech, it’s always been about looking for the best innovation, the best machines and the best technology that we can add to improve our processes,” says Jean-François Nadeau, continuous improvement and quality director for the company.
Matritech specializes in manufacturing component parts for a broad range of industries and markets, such as railway, transport, recreational vehicles, energy systems, medical devices, structural building, and lighting systems. Some of its many services include stamping, tooling, CNC machining, punching and bending, robotic and manual welding, and laser cutting.
But as it grows and invests in improving processes, Nadeau says the company also needs to reevaluate the workflow on the shop floor and how to strategically add and position new equipment and processes. “Any time we add a new machine we have no choice but to add square footage to the company.”
When they added the TRUMPF TruBend 7000 machine cell to production, Nadeau says, “We had to move about 50 per cent of the sheet metal department to have the machine in the right spot for a good workflow.”
“We didn’t have a bending cell, just a press that was manual. We were the first in Canada to get this machine from TRUMPF and the TruBend has been a good addition because we knew that finding manpower and recruiting was becoming increasingly more difficult, and we knew that this machine would help us gain contracts and customers in the next five to ten years,” he said.
TRUMPF’s 7000 series is an ergonomic high speed machine that produces small and medium sized parts. It features a direct drive and automatic angle measuring system to monitor the quality of the part as it runs. By simply inputting what programs Nadeau’s team want to run, the machine is capable of taking the material needed, executing the bending operation and placing the finished part on a conveyor system or in a bin. With such automated loading and offloading capabilities, the TruBend cell helps Matritech conduct “lights-out” manufacturing.
“The quality and repeatability of the parts is impeccable, and it allows us to produce more parts,” says Nadeau. “The machine is capable of doing the set-up on its own and you don’t need to put tooling in the machine. Sometimes we can leave it producing on overnight shifts without the need for anyone physically monitoring it. All of the programming is done offline by our in-house programmer. And each program takes about 30-minutes to two hours to create depending on the complexity of the part. As of now we have close to 900 programs in that machine.”
Of course, Matritech is now currently eyeing up new welding robots to add to its welding department that already has three robotic welding cells and three welders. “That investment will add some big contracts over the next 10 years,” says Nadeau. “It’s always about innovation for Matritech. If there is new technology or automation available for sheet metal and stamping, we will always be looking to add it and constantly introduce new innovation to our processes.” SMT