Over 90 Years
facility & product range
in the technology market
Partnership in profile: Ficep and Zeman
In our first Partnership in Profile feature, MD Mark Jones looks at the relationship between Ficep and Zeman over the years, the benefits our partnership brings to customers and gives an overview of the systems available.
Our relationship with Zeman started many years ago when Zeman were a customer of Ficep using the machinery for fabrication in their main structural steel business, and so our knowledge of their approach and capabilities is from first-hand experience. Over the last decade, Zeman recognised that the robotics industry had a place in modern steel fabrication. As engineers, they developed their own smart assembly and welding robotic system for their own use and eventually decided the business had global potential.
In 2019 Ficep and Zeman established a closer partnership. With our presence all over the world we presented a great opportunity for them to expand their market and we then became partners to Zeman in the UK. The partnership supports our drive to facilitate the automation of factories and to improve the safety of workers whilst helping customers to increase production, improve precision in fabrication and deliver more autonomous processes.
What Zeman brings to the table
A market leader in robotic assembling lines and automated machines for fabrication of structural steel, Zeman have installed over 50 robotic automated systems to date.
Zeman, as an Austrian-based steel construction group, had been serving international markets for over 45 years. It began as a supplier of roll forming machines initially then developed a fully automated system that assembles, tacks and finishes weld structural members for the fabrication of buildings.
Its ethos sits well with our own progressive approach and supports our drive to help customers adopt industry 4.0 principles.
Increasing efficiency and accuracy
Working with partners allows us to offer a complete range of steel fabrication machines, to help increase your efficiency and competitiveness in the marketplace.
The use of highly efficient robotics, such as those by Zeman, can increase productivity and reduce manual operation requirements. The technology also lends itself to repeatable tasks, automating some of the hardest, and often most dangerous, work that is carried out in factories thus lowering the margin for error and injury.
In addition, the systems are operated via CAD with simple interface with Structural software such as Tekla Trimble for ease of use, which means that time which may have been spent in training manual operatives, frees up workforce time which can be spent more productively within the business.
A brief introduction to the systems
Zeman systems offer a wide range of solutions to weld and assemble; to scan and sort plates; and to move plates autonomously through factories from one station to another using state-of-the-art robots and machine vision technology.
The advanced automated Scanning and Plate Sorting (SPS) system is able to transform plate processing operations in steel service centres and steel fabrication companies alike, ideal for jobs where digitisation, tracking and error reduction are important.
The robot picks fittings and transfers them to storage systems, reducing operator involvement and helping to increase productivity. It scans the plates which are incoming and sorts them by job onto pallets or into storage containers. The highly accurate 3D scans are then used to track each job’s parts and plan each add on part’s position on the beam. A steel plate patroller moves autonomously and navigates to any assigned position in the factory.
The Steel Beam Assembler (SBA) technology, which is the first Zeman system we sold to Scotland, is a robotic assembling and welding line for fully automated tacking and welding of steel beams. A scanner on the manipulator arm laser scans and checks it has all the parts needed for the job. The beam rotator takes a new beam from the infeed system and the add on parts are then perfectly positioned to their exact weld location, tacked and welded to the beam with pinpoint precision. The beam is then lifted by the rotators to the outfeed system and the rotators return to the beginning of the line to carry out the next job.
The Steel Beam Welding (SBW) technology is designed for the fast welding of pre-assembled beams. It is suitable for high volumes achieved by standardised machinery components. The SBW can be upgraded to an SBA with the addition of a scanner box and assembly robot. The SBW Terminator is what the company affectionately calls its ‘master welder’. It has an integrated profile turning device and is designed for welding out structural profiles up to a maximum width of 760mm.
Says Mark Jones: “Our strategic partnerships allow us to extend our product supply and offer innovations in technology to give our customers competitive advantage. Zeman has more systems in the marketplace than any other company, which ensures that our customers can get a quality system that is best suited to their needs. We’ve been moving towards automation for many years to help customers become more productive and reduce room for error in production operations, and our partnerships with the likes of Zeman fully support this effort.”