Galbiati & Colombo Co., based in Molteno, in the province of Lecco, has over 50 years of experience with manufacturing small and medium size turned parts. Engineer Giuseppe Giussani, the quality manager of the company, says: "We have different types of lathes, single-spindle, multi-spindle and with sliding head, CNC and mechanical, as well as turning centers, milling, thread rolling, drilling and tapping machines, for a total of about 40 machines."
The company has 25 employees and works for sectors such as furniture, automotive of garden equipment, power tools, etc. and manufactures a full range of items in various materials. "We are known and respected for the quality, timeliness, flexibility and expertise of our organization - the qualities that have allowed us to enter also in the foreign markets. In fact, 50% of our turnover comes from foreign clients such as Stanley Black & Decker, Stihl Group, ABB, Biticino, etc." All high quality customers! This quality is demonstrated not only by the certification EN ISO 9001, but also from the "in process" control procedures. "The " in process" procedure is a methodology necessary to satisfy international customers or highly demanding domestic clients."
How do you implement this kind of control?
"We operate through the following procedure: the first verification occurs at the acceptance of goods; then, the first pieces are made. These are controlled by both the operator of the machine tool, and by a quality department manager; following his approval, the main production can start. At that point, we proceed with S.PC, i.e. the statistical process control, a control method of sample pieces during the manufacture of the batch. The rate of control, from which it is possible to check a "continuous statistical control", is decided before the production stage, depending on the type of piece. Normally, for our type of production, we do not need to control 100% of parts 100% with tele-cameras or other instruments. Usually, it is sufficient to set a frequency control that allows us to ensure a defect rate according to an AQL / LQA previously agreed with the customer. Although, if we are so specifically requested, can also provide "zero defects" certificates. The control data are reported and processed directly in our system or recorded on special cards to store all the information and to "register" any non-compliance in order to obtain a historical analysis that allows us to avoid the same mistakes in the future. In addition, we have organised a kind of "supervision" on the part of the quality managers. This allows to control the finished sample pieces in order to avoid the risk of "oversights" or "in process" operator errors. This "supervision", carried out at least once a month, also inspects the state of the machine tools for a further security step. For the most important pieces we also make an additional final control, and we might as well enter the measurement data in a central software system for a more elaborate analysis if the client requests it."
Are "in process" controls indespensable?
"Absolutely! Yes, at least in our company. We need this system to figure out if what we are doing is correct or not. We manufacture small parts, in one hour, depending on the type, we can produce up to several hundreds of pieces. In case of problems, if we did not do our "in process" measures, at the end of the day we would risk having to throw out thousands of pieces, and the damage would be double: both for time and material. Frequency control, instead, helps us to monitor what is going on in real time, gives us security, and also allows us to correct in a timely manner."
Which kind of instruments do you use to make the measurements?
"We have gauges with accuracy up to 0.01 mm, internal and external micrometers, altimeters comparators, roughness, hardness testers, profile projectors: these are devices that allow you to measure the pieces "projecting" the image of their profiles." Giussani concludes with a general remark: "I think that the "in process" procedures are quite common in the Italian engineering companies. Depending on the degree of technology used, whether it is more or less automated, this type of control has also the advantage of giving extra responsibility to operators, who learn to "filter out" any production defects."
Published in "Macchine Utensili", interview with the Assurance Manager of Galbiati & Colombo, Eng. Giuseppe Giussani.
The economic value of concepts such as timeliness, flexibility and organisation. Luca Galbiati offers a production model for automatic precision metal spinning
One of the first small-medium sized companies from Lombardy to focus on added value, Galbiati earned a valuable market standing which other companies normally achieve only thanks to their size. And not only in the national market. "For fifty years," states Luca Galbiati, president of Galbiati & Colombo in Molteno, "I have managed this company as part of a team with Sergio, Paolo and Massimo Galbiati. We work in the automatic precision metal spinning sector for the production of metal parts, using all types of steel, non-ferrous alloys and plastics. Today, 50 percent of our production is exported to other countries, to companies such as Stanley Black & Decker, StihlGroup, Abb Sace and Bufab Sweden AB."
But what is the added value? "Apparently it lies in concepts such as expertise, timeliness, flexibility, organisation. Because these have had a tangible effect on what and how we produce. And the most valuable confirmation of the economic tangibility of this value is the satisfaction of our partners."
Galbiati & Colombo is also technology applied to production. "We have multi-spindle lathes, single-spindle sliding head lathes, CNC lathes. Furthermore, operating as project leader, in addition to our predominantly mechanical machining processes (metal spinning, milling, rolling, tapping, grinding), we also perform all the accessorial activities (heat treatments, galvanic treatments, assembly). These different technologies allow us to guarantee product lines that meet the demands of multiple sectors: from electromechanics to pneumatics, hydraulics, automotive and mechanics in general. The final outcomes are then the furniture industry, motor vehicles, gardening machines, electric tools." An additional guarantee of Galbiati & Colombo's production quality is their Quality System Certification in line with ISO 9001 and their In process control. "This is a working procedure that involves different stages of verification. The different elements of quality control follow the entire production process; they in fact give life to it. The regularity of the inspections allow the continuous elaboration of statistical data. All processed data is entered into the system in order to optimise fabrication processes and avoid future errors in similar productions."
The article was published in "DOSSIER Lombardy" 06/2014, distributed with the newspaper "Il Giornale"