Elos Medtech Pinol in Gørløse, Denmark, is one of Europe’s leading development and production partners for medical technology products and components. In recent years, this industry has been in a global elimination process where increasing demands for quality, process documentation, and product consistency force customers to use fewer suppliers. Elos Medtech Pinol is one of the companies that customers have selected and it is largely due to 8 to 10 years of targeted optimization, standardization, and automation. The automated factory is a mantra used within the company that impacts all employees. The approach includes ambitious investments in new user-friendly and flexible production equipment and the latest automation technology, including a mobile robot MiR100 from Mobile Industrial Robots.
New Technology Initially Puzzled Employees
“When we first got our mobile robot it was fun, but also a little weird. What is this thing doing here? And how will it do it? But as it started moving around the factory from A to Z, it enabled a much better and faster flow in our material delivery. Before, we tended to collect things in big piles, but now we get a steady stream of deliveries,” says Majbritt Breiling, quality control employee at Elos Medtech Pinol.
MiR100 runs continuously in a fixed route within the company. On an annual basis, the robot logs 1,650 kilometers. Those operation hours amount to half a full-time employee position, which is now freed up to perform tasks other than internal transport. "Staff members who normally had to transport goods for further processing in other departments can now place them on MiR100 when it passes on its bus route. This means they can avoid downtime and interruptions and continue processing the goods in their own department," says Per Hansen, developer at Elos.
A wave of automation has flown into the industry worldwide in recent years, even in countries with lower labor costs than Denmark. This is a challenge that Elos is now ready for, although automating work processes in a company that produces more than 3,000 different item numbers in batches down to 100 units is not always simple. But Elos’ results speak for themselves: the order book is growing, earnings have increased, and growth continues. The company has almost halved its average order lead time, requiring only 16 days from production start to delivery compared to 30 days in 2012.
Elos has succeeded in "growing out of the risk" of terminating employees as a result of automation investments, with manageable staff growth from 116 to 145 employees over two years. Along with automation to improve productivity, new jobs have been created within the highly specialized manual assembly, in R&D, and in administration.
"We want to grow without adding more people than what is actually dictated by growth. Automation is a strategic focus area and our investment budget is increasingly allocated more automation and not just machinery. Whenever we invest in new equipment, it is now a requirement that it is a more automated solution than the one we already have. The objective is to reduce the amount of repetitive work and to strengthen the quality assurance of our products,” says head of R&D Henrik Andersen.
Facts & Figures:
Factory Area: 8,000 square meters.
Benefits gained with the mobile robot MiR100: A half full-time employee has been freed up for other tasks.
About Elos Medtech Pinol:
Elos Medtech Pinol produces implants for teeth and tools for implementing these. 75 percent of sales happen on global markets outside Denmark. Elos Medtech Pinol in Gørløse which employs 145 people, is the Danish subsidiary of one of Europe's leading development and production partners in medical technology, Elos Medtech Group. The Group, headquartered in Sweden with a subsidiary in China, has a significant global market position within this industry.