CASE STUDY

Wolfram is a production technology company that increased throughput by 50% and reached ROI in 2 months using Forge/OS.

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The Business

Wolfram Manufacturing is a production CNC machine shop and technology consulting firm, founded in 2011. Wolfram started out producing medium to high volume metal parts. Focused on cutting-edge manufacturing technology, Wolfram attracted the next generation of makers. Since then, Wolfram has expanded. They now offer consulting, training, and distribution of 3rd party hardware and software solutions. Wolfram’s goal is to help customers achieve lights-out production with minimal operator intervention.

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The Challenge

When Wolfram realized that their Robodrill CNC mill created a bottleneck in production, they looked for a way to increase productivity. This mill had a 12-minute cycle time, which didn’t allow operators to effectively multitask. Either the manufacturing specialists would get stuck by the machine because the next load was too close, or have to do another task elsewhere that didn’t perfectly fit the cycle time leaving it idle. In both cases productivity was left on the table and a person’s focus was fragmented, reducing their effectiveness.

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If automation doesn’t make your life easier than it isn’t worth it. A system that works for a period of time then takes a large amount of organization and effort to adjust to changing circumstances isn’t a win in our world. This is why we like Forge/OS - it lets us pull our manufacturing specialists up and get them involved in setups and adjustments of the automation across the shop using a common interface without having to pull an automation engineer in or go research that particular robot or system again.

Nathan Byman, President
Wolfram Manufacturing

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The Solution

Wolfram needed a way to cost-effectively empower their operators to automate and manage the workcell. By selecting affordable hardware (like the Epson VT6L, the Schunk PGN+ 80 Gripper, and READY Robotics’s Essential Kit), they automated the RoboDrill’s operation for less than $40,000. Even better, the Forge/OS software that’s included in the Essential Kit didn’t require their operators to go through months of specialized training. Thanks to Forge/OS’s user-friendly interface, they were able to quickly learn how to use it to start and stop the machine cycle, open and close the machine door, and turn the pneumatic gripper on and off. In Task Canvas, one of the native apps in Forge/OS, they built out their task as a human-readable flowchart. This gave them the confidence to edit, test, and restart production as necessary.

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READY’s Forge/OS software is the ideal solution for a shop like Wolfram. Here at Wolfram we have a wide variety of processes and machines. READY’s easy-to-use interface enables our operators to manage day-to-day interaction with the cell to touch up waypoints and manage interruptions without intervention from an engineer. Additionally, it allows us to use both collaborative or industrial robots, as well as small/fast robots or large robots, all with the same interface.

Chris Swaim, Director of Strategic Initiatives
Wolfram Manufacturing

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The Results

By being smart about what task they were automating, what hardware they were selecting, and what software they were using for programming, Wolfram achieved a 2 month return on investment! With the optimized machine production time, Wolfram gained a 50% increase in throughput. Now that their employees don’t have to tend to the machine every 12 minutes, they are free to fully focus on other tasks, such as consulting with customers. This increased productivity in other areas of the business without hiring additional people.

Wolfram plans to deploy other robots with Forge/OS in the future. Thanks to the brand-agnostic nature of Forge/OS, they have the freedom to choose the right robot for the right job. Their operators don’t have to learn different programming interfaces to control different brands of robot arms. They can now program any brand of robot that they have in the shop with Forge/OS. 

Highlights

50% increase

In throughput automating a single shift..

2 month ROI

With a hardware cost of $37k.

Free up 4 hours

Of an operator's time while increasing throughput by 50%.