I just got back from the IWF show and I feet are exhausted. I thought it was a great show and lots to learn. I was impressed with the CNC routers and the software selections. I noticed allot of import products at the show for sure. Still on the fence for a new CNC router but getting close. Nextech showed the best pricing for some great components on their CNC Router.
I did not see you at the show. I spent some time at the Camaster booth and was impressed with the new machine they showed. I am still on the fence for purchase but narrowed my selections down for sure. Great show!
The new Edge machine is up there with the rest of them ! my cobras are doing fine, so i went for a new edge bander, it was nice to see some buying going on Saturday, people were at tables signing paper !!
I figured between the three days I was there with one of my employees, we walked about 45 Km.. close to 9 miles a day. Yup, my feet and calves were sore too.
It was a great show. I wasnt in the market for any big equipment, but a lot of other stuff - new shop carts, power feeder, some tooling, etc. and prob a tiger stop for one of my saws.
Made it back home today - back to work tomorrow with another two years of new ideas and things to ponder until the next one.
Some things I saw two years ago I purchased this show, and I am sure some of the things I saw this past week will sit in the back of my mind until it is time to implement them in the future. Not always about what you want to buy "now", but what you might need to buy "later"... at least for me.
I decided to go at last minute. Show was very good, saw some great stuff.
I went specifically to see a machine I had a deposit on. I decided to put that on hold and instead negotiated a great deal on a new nested base with auto load and unload. Saved almost 20k over what I had previously been quoted. (I have a nice Biesse Rover B that I will be putting up for sale for anyone that is interested)
Picked up some other great ideas as well. Coolest thing I saw at the show was the printers that could print on just about anything. The booth backdrop were pallets they had printed directly on. No application whatsoever for my business, just cool.
Lots of machines were sold at that show.
Maybe I've gone to too many IWF's, but I was extremely disappointed in this year's show. It was exactly the same stuff as two years ago, but every booth was even smaller. I remember Weinig used to have every single moulder they made under power and actually making moulding. This time you had to be luck enough to see a moulder you could "lease for only $7697/month"! I was impressed that a LeaderMac moulder that's $60k is much heavier and built better than the 350k Weinig.
It was nice to watch the robots do their routine, but a lot of what on display seemed to be very frivolous to me. Do I really need to pay $150k for a robot to place a panel from one conveyor belt to another? You could accomplish the same task with a gravity roller conveyor for a few hundred dollars.
Makes me think back to how every single article in all the wood magazines is how a CNC saved the woodshop. I wonder if the magazines would still be in business if they only pushed lean articles?
Maybe I wasn't impressed because I only process solid wood. Almost every booth was a panel saw, edgebander, or nested based cnc.
I took a couple of guys with me, and we all thought the show was excellent. It was encouraging to see the number of people (both exhibitors and attendees). And, it seemed people were in the buying mode.
Derrek, I'm curious which CNC you ended up buying (and if you're willing to share, what a "great deal" is specifically). We are in the market for one, and any input is appreciated.
I have a Rover B, I went with the rover s, 4x8 table with auto load and unload. I had been previously quoted on the machine at 144k and was able to get it for under 130k plus a 2500 credit for tooling.
Im very satisfied with my current machine, I went with the. New one to simplify the process in my shop. The unloading after sheet was run was taking way to long, now we are 45 seconds between sheets.
As for the robots, the prices are coming down and minimum wage is going up. I saw a smaller one that could run uncaged for about 50k. Yes be smart, if you can use a gravity roller do it, but automation will be the future as costs continue to come down.
I dont remeber the name, they were in the B building in the 5000 aisles, I think.
Uncaged means they don't need a safety fence around them. They have sensors on them that can tell when they are contacting something and stop. Some also have eyes and can see obstacles in the path of travel. This type of robot can work side by side with humans and not kill them if they get in the way.
Cobots, or collaborative robots, are a pretty hot segment of automation.
Unlike traditional robots, there is no normal safety barrier (fencing, gated access). Some use machine vision, photocells, or contact pads to minimize contact with people. The units are very sensitive to force feedback, and will halt if any reasonable contact is encountered.
Usually they are essentially a "3rd hand" to handle the more hazardous parts handling or machining. They generally work in close proximity to people that are working with them.
Full disclosure is that I many years of experience in standard production robotics (primarily pick and place, CNC) and I have only investigated and done the legwork to have a couple of cobots installed, both outside of the wood industry.
That having been said, having robots that don't require isolation from a human workforce offer some significant advantages in cost and operational flexibility.
My opinion is as follows...
Pros: There is better utilization of space since a isolation area is not required.
Materials handling can be simplified because a isolation area is not required.
Higher risk portions of task(s) can be done by cobots.
Complete tasks can be done by working in conjunction with cobots.
Cobots can also do complete jobs as standard robots .
Programming flexibility is much better that standard robots. They are less complicated to program in part due to not having to secure the working envelope.
Multiple robots can be used more easily in a single cell. For example, one can pick up a part and hold it, while another performs a machining operation.
Some can inspect their own work.
Most cobots will likely be re-purposed several times because of their flexibility and ease of implementation.
My opinion is that cleaning tasks in occupied areas will be done by cobots while the human element is on breaks or off shift.
If implemented correctly, cobots can increase productivity of a job or task by a factor of 3 or more.
Repetitive motion injuries can be minimized or eliminated, particularly back and hand.
Contact injuries can be minimized or eliminated.
All of the above reasons allow for much faster adoption of robotics technology in the workplace. ROI, safety improvements, injury reduction, and flexibility.
Working with cobots is not an unskilled position to be 100% successful.
Training and understanding is paramount. This cannot be overstated.
Maintenance is required and critical for uptime.
Consistency is critical with perishable tooling and tooling changes/setups.
The answers is, as it is all too often is, it depends.
If the cobot with installation cost $50,000, you still have to cover implementation cost, training, and putting a new or different process in place. There is a learning curve to get started, although it is much smaller that with a standard robot.
$75,000 in labor savings, increased productivity, employee engagement, will easily pay for the cobot automation in a year most of the time. PR for your company, young workers are often enamored by robots, sometimes they are just the right thing to get them interested in manufacturing. The idea is to make money, not beak even. That is why I use 1.5 times the price of the equipment.
Contributing factors to improve justification of a cobot:
If OSHA is investigating a claim, and using a cobot is part of the corrective action.
If you can minimize overtime or eliminate a shift.
In all cases you need to have the technical expertise available to support and maintain the application(s). There is a learning curve. This can be internal or external, but is imperitive.
The support personnel and the operator are not minimum wage positions. Don't think that they are, and you will save yourself a lot of heart burn.
Sorry I can't provide an answer like .68 units of .75 white melamine per week, but there are just too many variables.
The robot @ the SCM automation line was quoted as $52K. It required a fence. That did not include end handling or software. Many companies are now introducing robots that do not need fencing. They are slower currently so that's the trade.
At the show the hot newer item was the panel handling gantries. I can see a use for them in larger shops. Prices ranged up from $100K.
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