Volume 10, Issue 3 - March 2009

Customization Central

Customized equipment is designed to meet a manufacturer’s specific needs, and, while it is an investment, many seek it out as a way to save money in the long run. In the following pages you’ll find an overview of the latest custom equipment on the market. 

Erdman Offers Array of Customized Options
Erdman designs and builds a line of custom automated equipment, which offers a variety of semi-automated and fully automated glazing, clamping and component assembly machines. Company officials say the systems are built to be durable and long-term. The company’s customization offerings also provide manufacturers with a made-to-order machine for its specific production requirements. www.erdmanautomation.com 

GED’s New Sash Cleaner is Fast and Versatile
The new CM4100 Sash Twin Station Corner Cleaners from GED Integrated Solutions in Twinsburg, Ohio, are designed with special high-speed routing tools, which result in cycle times as low as 25 seconds to clean and process a complete sash. The cleaners are each equipped with two cleaning stations, one fixed and one adjustable, and have variable-speed, bi-directional, electric motors for tilt latch routing. In addition, variable-speed electric or Pneumatic motors provide for corner cleaning and other secondary fabrication operations, and a programmable top scarf knife offers multiple features and sash sizes.The system is equipped with easy-to-use adjustments for tool positioning, according to the company, and can clean 600 sashes per shift. www.gedusa.com 

New Machine from Wegoma is Fast and User-Friendly 
The new WSA4LH horizontal automatic four-head corner welding machine from Wegoma GB can weld PVC window profiles at an angle of 90 degrees and utilizes an industrial PC control with a user friendly interface for the machine’s operator. In addition, the machine is designed to offer flexible and accurate processing, along with automatic monitoring of profile tolerance, and a sophisticated module design.

The WSA4LH can be integrated into an automatic welding and cleaning line and welds a complete PVC door/window frame or sash in one working cycle automatically. www.wegomagb.com 

Working with Customers for Optimal Automation

When it comes to customization, one thing is certain—no two manufacturers’ needs are identical. And that’s what customization is all about. Erdman Automation is one of several industry equipment suppliers that customizes equipment to meet manufacturers’ specific needs, and general manager Paul Van Kempen is quick to point out that the possibilities are endless as to what can be customized. “In a nutshell, basically any motion or action that a human operator can do can be automated,” he says. “If it can be built by hand, it can be built by us.”

While pretty much anything is possible, though, Van Kempen stresses that manufacturers should look at end results when figuring out how their systems should be customized.

“We would encourage automating any process that results in higher quality,” he says. “A more ergonomic [process] that lends itself to production flow.”

Planning is key. “Multiple things have to happen when a company decides [it] want[s] to automate,” Van Kempen warns. “One, they need to determine what type of level of automation is right for them. There’s lower-level automation and high-level automation. It depends on your volume what type of automation you would need.”

Company officials also must look at what level of commitment they are willing to make when choosing to implement customized, automated equipment.

“The other thing we would ask a potential customer is, if they choose to go highly automated, are they able to maintain the equipment?” adds Van Kempen. “Generally, lower-level automation requires less maintenance. It also typically requires some type of human interface, whereas a high level automation is pretty much lights on and hands off.”

Also of the essence is for what the company plans to use the customized equipment—whether it’s a new product or something already on the market; Van Kempen stresses that allowing the equipment company to be involved early will save time—and money—in the long run.

“We like to ask our customers whether in the door or window industry is when they’re developing a new door or window product, whether it be a whole window or door or even components, that at the time of design … that they sit down and talk with the manufacturers of the automation, because there are things that can be done in the design process of the door or window that could cut complexity or equipment,” he says. “A lot of successful companies that use automation will at least have conversations with the automation builder and they may massage the design slightly … [Manufacturers] have to be flexible in their design[s].”

Choosing what part or parts of the process to customize for automation depends on several factors.

“The processes that are most popular would be automation that lends itself to ergonomics—the safety of the production line,” Van Kempen says. “Then it’s basically quality. If you get an automated system that’s reliable and dependable, your quality level typically goes up significantly. “Once a manufacturer chooses a process and decides to invest in a piece of customized automation equipment, patience also plays a role.“

Simple automation and lower-level automation often can be delivered in two to three months or less, and higher levels of automation with multiple pieces of equipment can range from three- to six-month delivery,” Van Kempen adds. 
—Penny Stacey

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