FilterFinder parent company Micro-Mesh Engineering has unveiled the latest innovation at its Nottingham-based factory; a robotic arm to introduce automation to part of its filter production process. This purchase kicks off a round of investment that the company is making in 2022.
Representing a £50,000 investment, the robotic arm helps speed up the laser engraving process of filter manufacturing by placing the caps onto an automated conveyor system where they are engraved having never needed to be touched by human hands. When done manually, the task was taking Micro-Mesh staff 16 hours every week, which equates to almost 35 days annually that have now become freed up for operators to do other tasks making the entire production process even more streamlined and efficient.
The new equipment was made possible thanks to funding from an Aerospace Unlocking Potential (Aerospace UP) programme, a collaboration between the University of Nottingham and the Midlands Aerospace Alliance. Launched in 2020 and backed by the European Regional Development Fund, Aerospace UP has more than £5m of funding to provide to SMEs in the aerospace sector who are looking to unlock their innovation potential.
Elliott Underwood, head of online sales at FilterFinder, said: “When we looked at potentially automating part of our manufacturing process, this task was an obvious one as it represented one of our operators spending hours a day doing a job no-one wanted to do. They have now been freed up to do other tasks and improve efficiency elsewhere.”
Jaden Nicholson, Micro-Mesh’s graduate mechanical engineer, has been busy working on the programming for the robot arm, which utilises machine vision to identify the part it is picking and passes the information onto machines further down the production line, further streamlining the production process. Finally, force torque sensors are built into its motors which can detect any external forces being applied and stop. This health and safety feature will help maintain and safe working environment for Micro-Mesh operators.
Founded in 1968, Micro-Mesh, is the UK’s leading filter manufacturer, providing high quality hydraulic and air filtration solutions to a wide variety of industries. In December 2020 it launched FilterFinder, an online cross-reference database with a catalogue of more than 600,000 part numbers from over 1000 different manufacturers. Together, the two businesses are committed to innovating, evolving and advancing their offerings.