CASE STUDY

Family owned custom sheet metal manufacturer deploys a sub $40k automated deburring solution in a couple of days utilizing Forge/OS.

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The Business

Wolf Metals is a metal manufacturer in Columbus, Ohio. From sheet metal flattening, to laser cutting, deburring – Wolf Metals has been supporting automotive and aerospace customers for over forty years with high-quality metal manufacturing services.

The Challenge

Like many US manufacturers, Wolf Metals was struggling with the labor shortage. Despite their best efforts, they found themselves unable to hire or retain skilled workers to run their deburring machine. As demand steadily grew, what started as a sore spot had become a choke point that was impacting their business. They knew they needed to automate, but they were intimidated by the high cost, and long lead times associated with these projects.  Concerned by their lack of automation experience, Wolf needed an affordable solution that their team could manage.

The Solution

Wolf approached FINCH Automation, a READY Robotics stocking distributor based in Indiana. In helping manufacturers of all sizes deploy automation installations since 1967, FINCH was well aware of the cost concerns shared by most manufacturers. That is why FINCH has become a proponent of Epson robots. With price points roughly 1/3rd the cost of other industrial and collaborative robots, FINCH uses Epson robots to create ultra-affordable automation solutions, However, there is a catch. Like most robot OEMs, Epson robots have their own proprietary and complex programming language. This programming interface can be a barrier for customers who want to manage automation with their in-house staff. In order to solve the complexity of programming while still keeping costs low for Wolf Metals, FINCH designed a robotic system featuring a Epson VT6L powered by Forge/OS.

In less than a week FINCH was able to deploy and program a 6kg payload Epson industrial robot which cost just $14,000 yet offered sufficient reach for this deburring task. The complete solution featuring an Epson VT6L powered by Forge/OS, custom end effector with Coval vacuum cups, and a Hokuyo safety laser scanner cost just $37,000 – including setup and programming by FINCH. Forge/OS played a key role in keeping costs down by reducing deployment time and up-front programming costs.

quotes@1,5x

The Forge system has enabled us to change the operation from 2 people to one person and allows us to use the other person for other jobs in the shop.

Mike Wolf, Owner
Wolf Metals

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The Results

By designing a complete robotic solution that cost just $37,000 (including installation and programming) FINCH made automating their deburring cell possible for Wolf. For half the price of a similar payload collaborative robot, Wolf had an industrial robotic system up and running. From submitting the purchase order to having the system running took just 2 weeks, with 2.5 days to set-up the system and program the robot.

The primary component in this deployment is Forge/OS, which enabled FINCH to quickly integrate the pneumatic end-effector, air compressor, and safety scanner into the system, and program the pick-and-place task in just hours. Aiding in this rapid deployment is the Universal Connection Hub and Smart Cable that FINCH has developed to decrease wiring complexity.

Wolf Metals now has an automation solution powered by Forge/OS, meaning it can be operated and managed by their existing team. Ensuring that production continues without interruption Wolf has minimized downtime, in order to reach their ROI faster. Since deployment, Wolf has experienced a 200% throughput increase, and has increased the uptime of their deburring machine to two full shifts. Wolf didn’t just boost their production with Forge/OS-powered automation, they became more efficient and more competitive.

Wolf has solved the labor issue that prevented them from increasing production, and they are already searching for the next task to automate. As many manufacturers dealing with the labor shortage know, it’s not about replacing workers, it’s about ensuring that a task isn’t limited by the lack of available workers.

quotes@1,5x

READY Robotics and Finch Automation have been extremely helpful with the operation of the robot and have also been very willing to help us with changes we wanted to make after running it for a few months

Mike Wolf, Owner
Wolf Metals

Highlights

200% Increased Throughput

$37K

Total System Cost, including installation and programming

2.5 Days

To deploy a complete automation solution

Increased Flexibility

With an automation cell managed by the customer