Page 25 - MetalForming May 2019
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   Gripper in perch position waits for raw material to enter the Hytrol automated cell on the conveyor. Once in the cell, a vacuum-based gripper system securely picks the raw material, placing it into the angled qualifying regrip stand.
automation makes them feel empow- ered. “Instead of being machine oper- ators, our employees now are cell oper- ators, monitoring the whole system and operation.”
In addition to the new business mentioned earlier, Shrank says that work orders from existing customers have increased since they “know that they can rely on the quality, consistency and on-time delivery of the compo- nents produced at AA Precision due to its commitment to state-of-the-art fac- tory automation.”
Overcoming an Expansion Roadblock
When Hytrol, a 72-yr.-old Jones- boro, AR-based material-handling sys- tems manufacturer with more than 1000 employees, hit an expansion roadblock due to an industry-wide labor shortage combined with the area’s three-percent unemployment rate, it recognized the solutions that automation provides. Today, the com- pany’s newly expanded 660,000-sq.- ft. manufacturing facility includes an automation cell with a 2 by 4-m Amada 4K fiber laser cutting machine, two 220T Safran press brakes, two Miller gas-metal-arc welding machines, seven Fanuc robots, and Hytrol con- veyors that transfer fabricated parts weighing as much as 400 lb.
“We evaluated Hytrol’s operations
to-large-volume metal fabricators. “We provide the various inbound/ outbound methods from pallets or carts to conveyors for material han- dling, with our robots facilitating the transfer of materials to press brakes, weld cells and other related processes. The industry is moving toward automat- ing the automation,” Poole explains. Acieta’s robotically integrated bending solution (RIBS) serves as an example. The RIBS cell features a robotic arm outfitted with an ATI tool changer that presents parts to a brake, also providing a method for changing the press-brake
tooling automatically.
Successful integration of robotics
in an automated system requires a thorough understanding of a fabrica- tor’s needs, says Poole. “It’s all about providing whatever suits the plant lay- out, size of parts produced, number of changeovers, and takt time,” he says, “because you don’t want situations where too much automation outpaces production capability.”
Two examples of automation suc- cesses by Acieta follow.
Automation Attraction
AA Precision Tooling, a Blooming Prairie, MN-based maker of various
small parts such as wheel spindles and shafts, recently attracted five new cus- tomers simply because they learned of the company’s use of automation. According to owner BJ Shrank, his com- pany’s gross output rose 60 percent in the first 12 months after commission- ing an Acieta automation system. The new system enables the company to run milling and turning machines vir- tually unattended 24/7 using robot load/unload. As for the reaction from his employees, Shrank says that the
Fabrication: Robotics
MetalForming/May 2019 23
Automation system at AA Precision enables the company to run milling and turning machines virtually unattended 24/7 using robotic load/unload.

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