We are a 25 year old French company specialized in the industry of flights and screw manufacturing. We first got in contact with AST in September 2013 thanks to a video we found on the internet. The video was a shock to us as the technology we were watching was revolutionary compared to the one we were using. After a visit to AST in October 2013, we decided to purchase this technology and received it in late June 2014.
We have been using AST’ technology for the past 3 months and consider it a true technological breakthrough as it allows us to improve in many ways:
- The conception of the blank is much easier and quicker on the program as it is very simple to use. It reduces significantly the time spent on the calculation and design of the blank as it is very flexible between the different options (tapered, etc.). Given the specifics of the blank and the requirements of the final flight, the system calculates automatically the set-up requirements. The AST technology must be seen as a whole integrated process between the design of the blank up to the forming of the flight itself.
- Our previous process to form a blank into a flight required to have the specific dies adapted to each specific order. This process has been the same everywhere in the world since the beginning of the 20th century. If we did not have the dies the option for us was to adapt an existing die or create a new one. Whereas with the AST technology, which calculates it automatically, we only have to choose the right forming tool (according to the dimension of the flight and the angle required) and place it accordingly in the machine.
- The flights that are processed through the machine are all the same whereas with our previous process we could have significant differences between the flights. These differences would be for almost each flight that we would have to adjust manually with a hammer. With AST technology, as each flight comes out as programed and is similar to the previous time, there is no longer any need for manual adjustment and therefore we gain a lot of time as well as suffering from our employee.
To give an example, for the simplest flights, we were able to produce 15 flight per hour at maximum speed vs. almost 40 per hour with the new technology. In some cases, we can fasten this productivity by putting 2 blanks at the same time.
Our clients benefit from both the significant increase in quality of the products and from a dramatic reduction in delivery time of their products. In the long run, we are truly convinced that this will benefit the company in retaining its customers portfolio and get new customers as well. In the meantime, it is much less tiring for the employee and there is no need for hammering anymore.
- The know how to use the AST machine is quite simple to acquire and in a one week period of training an employee is able to use the machine and the main tricks. On the previous process, the training for someone to be able to form flight was close to 5 years and made the company highly dependent on those employee. This provides a lot of comfort to the company as more people are able to form flights within a very short period of time.
- For some very resistant materials, the new machine allows us to form some flights cold whereas we needed to heat them before at a 900° temperature. Once again, the benefit is multiple: significantly less energy is required, the pain for the employee is reduced and the quality of the flight for the customer is far better as the heat deteriorates the quality of the material even though the material is resistant to high temperatures. It will also allow us to increase our sales as we will be able to purchase cheaper material with the same properties but that does not need to resist high temperatures.
- As each flight turn out to be identical to the previous one, the adjusting of the flight on the pipe requires less time. The productivity for us (when the screw is made in our company) or for our customers is obvious: the flight adjust nicely on the pipe with no significant adjustment therefore a significant gain in time.
- Last, AST has created a partnership system with its customers where every partner benefit from the experience of others (we also try to bring our contribution to this system with small ideas) and for future developments that are being constructed.
As AST people are flight manufacturer they truly understand the making of a flights and the need of any flight manufacturer; the difference with other companies, such as “The Operative”, is that AST has moved a step further by reinventing completely the process of flight manufacturing. AST has allowed us to move from 20th to 21th century and has given us a decisive advantage compared to our competitors. I am very glad that we belong to this partnership and I congratulate AST people for their work and forward thinking.