The Green Mountains, maple syrup, world class skiing, marble, granite and...ROBOTS??
Vermont Manufacturer Relies on Consistent and Accurate “Machine-tending" Robots As Integral Step In Its Precision Machining Process.
Preci-Manufacturing, a family-owned manufacturer of precision mechanical components for the aerospace, defense, medical and electronics industries, relies heavily on machine-tending robots as a vital and productive part of its close tolerance machining process.
Located in the picturesque foothills of Vermont’s Green Mountains, Preci-Manufacturing’s 40,000 square foot ultra-modern facility boasts three Rixan/Mitsubishi 6-axis robots...one of which has been running almost continuously for 6 years and a second which has been going strong for almost five years. A third 6-axis robot is newer and very hard at work on a daily basis according to Lloyd Grunvald, General Manager and a member of the Grunvald family along with brother Jeff, and father Marcel, who run the very successful company. The Preci name...the first 5 letters of the word “precise"... was derived from the definition of the word 1) state or quality of being precise; 2) mechanical exactness; 3) the degree to which a correctness of a quantity is expressed. So, a company that specializes in precision...machining components and holding tolerances of up to ± 50 millionths...would expect nothing less than precision as well in the machine-tending robots they selected.
Why Rixan/Mitsubishi robots?
“We get 100% efficiency and flexibility from our Rixan/Mitsubishi robots. They have been running for 5 years with no down time!"
- Lloyd Grunvald General Manager Preci-Manufacturing, Inc.
“Having the payload capacity and reach we sought, as well as the Mitsubishi reputation for quality, consistency and accuracy, the Rixan/Mitsubishi 6-axis robots were perfect for our needs in automating our machining processes. We have not been disappointed as we get 100% efficiency and maximum flexibility with our Rixan/Mitsubishi robots. They are extremely dependable and we can count on little or no downtime," Grunvald commented.
“Prior to adding the robots," stated Grunvald, “our machine operators were spending more time loading and unloading machines than they were in producing and inspecting finished parts. Now, we can run jobs that vary from 200 to 50,000 pieces...one operator runs three machines...and our productivity and throughput have increased dramatically. The Rixan/Mitsubishi robots allow for quick-change end-of-arm tooling so we can switch between machining jobs with very little down-time or difficulty. We have also developed a piece of equipment...rather like a horizontal slide which is affixed to the CNC machine. It allows for the robot to be moved easily from side-to-side to afford operator access to a machine, if necessary; however, the heart of the slide is the attached ‘parts holder platform’ which can be adjusted to the pre-taught positions of the robot. This saves us an enormous amount of time because we don’t have to “‘re-teach" the robot when we change a job. All we do is adjust the part-holder platform to the robot.
Grunvald also added, “We are also working on a portable system where we have a Rixan/Mitsubishi robot affixed to a table which is wheeled right up to a CNC machine...hooked up in a matter of minutes...and ready to start loading/unloading parts. It is still in its developmental stage but we are very excited about its possibilities
“This flexibility is giving us the opportunity to handle larger volume, difficult- to- machine materials. One of the new areas we have started working in and exploring further is the automotive market. We see huge opportunities for Preci in this area because of the precision we offer. Of course, robotics and automation will play an even more crucial role in meeting the close tolerance demands and “Just-In-Time" delivery of parts for the automotive industry.
When asked about employee reaction to the introduction of robots into the company’s workforce, Grunvald explained, “Our employees love the robots (they have even given them human names!) because they have taken away the previously-dreaded mundane loading/unloading tasks. They have really elevated the employees from doing jobs that no one wanted to do in the first place to learning other more productive skills like programming and maintaining the robots and inspection of machined/finished parts. Another great thing about doing business with Rixan/Mitsubishi was that they provided us with free training when we purchased the robots.“
Grunvald further commented, “We have had no lay-offs as a result of purchasing and using the robots. We have had a tremendous upsurge in productivity and employee esteem, and just as important, an increase in sales. The robots allow us to more efficiently handle small jobs, large jobs and “Just-In-Time" delivery jobs. We feel the Rixan/Mitsubishi robots have helped us overall in growing and competing in the numerous markets we serve as well as opening the door to new markets.
As far as the state of the manufacturing industry in the United States, Grunvald commented, “rather than ‘off-shoring’ and losing jobs and manufacturing businesses, American manufacturers need to work smarter, faster and better. Productivity levels can be vastly increased by incorporating automation. In order for companies to compete and stay alive, now and in the future, there has to be a commitment to investing in capital equipment. We started five years ago with robotics and automation and what a dramatic difference it has made."
Preci-Manufacturing, located in Winooski, Vermont, can be contacted by calling (802) 655-2414 or e-mail Lloyd Grunvald at LGRUNVALD@PRECI.COM .
Rixan Associates, located in Dayton, Ohio, is the exclusive North American Distributor for Mitsubishi Robotics and can be reached at (937)438-3005; e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by accessing their website at www.rixan.com .