Tag Archives: design

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Rugged environment, rugged machinery

Our customer needed a Tuff conveyor for their robot cell. It had to work through a lot of machining debris and withstand the weight of several raw engine block castings.

We developed a two-strand top roller chain conveyor. Raw castings travel from a machining station along the conveyor, accumulate using indexing stops, and are positioned using a lift and locate device.  Once located, they are unloaded by a workstation robot.

The top roller chain conveyor makes heavy duty part accumulation easy, and the design minimizes obstruction by debris.

Custom Designs, Custom Solutions

Have a process that could benefit from rugged equipment like this? We can make one suited to your exact specifications.

Check out our latest top roller chain conveyor in action:

extendable conveyor material handling equipment efficiency

Our conveyors boost productivity

Our goal as a material handling equipment manufacturer is to help our clients make their processes more efficient. How do you measure that? Well, the proof is in the numbers.

An engineering company that designs and manufactures steel automotive parts, came to us for conveyor help. We built them some customized powered extendable conveyor and roller conveyors, which were installed in October.

Since installation, our client’s Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), which calculates how a machine is expected to run versus how it actually does run, for their machinery has improved by 25 percent, reporting over 95 percent OEE in November.

Our customers were thrilled with the improvements, saying their operators don’t spend nearly as much time fighting with the machinery.

Running two jobs used to take 3 hours, Process Engineer Seth Monroe said, now it only takes 1.5 hours. That’s a 50 percent improvement.

Maintenance has also become easier. Replacing the belts on the extendable conveyors used to take two to three hours. Now it takes 30 minutes.

“It takes longer to get the belts out of the crib than it does to replace them,” Monroe said.

That’s the kind of news we like to hear.

A more durable alternative to scissor lifts.

tuff automation pneumatic lifts scissor lift alternative custom design material handling

High-cycle lift processes don’t have to mean short equipment lifespans. Pneumatic lifts are a long-lasting, cost-effective alternative to scissor lifts, and they’re a perfect high-cycle solution.

More powerful than a scissor lift

Ordinary scissor lifts are rated for a lifetime of approximately 200,000 cycles. The vertically mounted cylinders on our pneumatic lifts make possible a lifetime of several million cycles. If your application exceeds a cycle time of 45 cycles per hour or 500 cycles per day, you’ll see the return on investment on a pneumatic lift in no time.

Robust, custom design from Tuff

Tuff’s pneumatic lift design is simple. It’s a direct lift design that significantly reduces side loading forces. They are easier to precisely position than a scissor lift—which makes them an excellent fit for automatic loading or unloading applications. Our lifts require minimal maintenance and are made in Grand Rapids, Michigan with off-the-shelf components, so replacing parts is quick and inexpensive. Tuff lifts are typically designed to handle between 500 and 3,000 pounds, and we have the capacity to customize lifts to handle heavier weights. We also offer a model that is powered by an electric motor to facilitate longer strokes, multiple precise positions, and specific applications.

Made to fit your application

Don’t settle for mediocre equipment when your process warrants something more. If you have an application that you think would benefit from using a pneumatic lift, Tuff Automation can build one to suit your needs exactly.

Tuff Automation does robots

robotics integration robots

The long and short of what we want to communicate in this post is succinctly contained within its title. We work with robots. We’ve programmed them, we’ve built their supporting components, and we’ve created end-of-arm tooling for them. Is your interest piqued? If so, read on.

Automation begets efficiency

Robotics is a growing field in automation that’s been making complex and delicate processes more efficient and precise. Robots are widely becoming more popular in material handling processes, but many hesitate to incorporate them into their processes due to the investment they require upfront. We’re here to tell you that in the face of rising costs and liabilities incurred by using personnel, the investment pays off.

Robotics implemented

One project we completed was built and programmed for an automobile seat assembly line. Our client is always looking to make their assembly process leaner, so they opted to automate the off-load process of seats from the build line. Implementing a robot in their assembly process enabled our client to use the employees who would otherwise be doing the heavy lifting to do work on other parts of the assembly process.

Tuff builds, wires, and programs

Our client ordered the Fanuc robot, and we at Tuff Automation designed and built the axis it rides on and its end of arm tooling. We also did all the wiring, installation, and robot and PLC programming. The final product operates at the end of the line and matches completed seats with their ship pallets using Internal Build Numbers (IBNs), and it looks something like this:

At the last minute, Cisco-Eagle finds quick, reliable service to finish off their multi-million dollar project

Material handling equipment provider Cisco-Eagle was in the final stages of installing a massive addition to their original equipment for Cargill Meat Solutions, a leading meat processing facility located in Friona, TX, when they realized they needed a blade stop at the last minute. Their deadline was approaching; Cisco-Eagle knew they needed quality equipment and needed it quickly.

Pressed for time, Cisco-Eagle needed to be efficient in as many ways as possible. Production, delivery, and integration with the existing Hytrol equipment all had to move quickly. Knowing Hytrol has a tendency for longer lead times, Cisco-Eagle’s Director of Project Management Darrell Griffin contacted Tuff Automation’s sales engineer, Mark Zauel.

“Mark said he could provide equipment in a week, and it would hook up to the existing Hytrol equipment, which would save us considerable time in the field trying to make it fit,” said Griffin.

blade stop Tuff Automation material handling conveyor component custom Cisco-Eagle Cargill Meat Solutions
Example of a Tuff Automation Blade Stop

This wasn’t the first time Griffin worked with Tuff Automation, so he was confident in his decision to use Tuff Automation. Cisco-Eagle began working with Tuff when they were quoting another integration partner on a different project. While they looked through the pictures the integration partner provided with the quote, they noticed Tuff Automation stickers on some of the equipment in the photographs. After scrutinizing the photographs and hunting down Tuff Automation, Cisco-Eagle was ultimately won over by Tuff’s lower prices and completely custom solutions.

“Tuff doesn’t sell canned solutions,” said Griffin. “Everything is engineered to some extent—everything [Tuff] provides is rated to handle the load of the application.”

That initial impression was followed by years of solutions completely customized to fit their applications, which continually proved Tuff’s reliably fast turnaround and durable product construction. These experiences informed Griffin’s decision to go with Tuff for the blade stop solution.

“We have a lot of faith in [Tuff],” said Griffin.

Tuff Automation delivered the blade stop to Cargill Meat Solutions within a week’s time. The equipment integrated easily with the existing Hytrol conveyors and was durable enough for 110-pound cases of beef it needed to handle.

Quick turnaround, affordable prices, and reliable equipment are of paramount importance for those in the material handling industry, especially at the last minute. For Cisco-Eagle, Tuff Automation was able to provide all of the above, leaving all parties satisfied.

What you didn’t know about the history of conveyors [Infographic]

Conveyors have been such a significant part of our culture for so long, it’s easy to ignore their roles in our daily lives. Chances are, you probably didn’t wonder how long the conveyor has been around when one appeared in the famous chocolate factory episode of I Love Lucy:

I Love Lucy Chocolate Factory Conveyor material handling automation Image via Breaking Soup

Or think about how accurate its inclusion was in the mine where Indiana Jones fought off a thuggish guard while headed straight towards a rock crusher:

Indiana Jones Temple of Doom conveyor belt Harrison Ford material handling automationImage via Central Conveyors

Or think anything of any of the handful of times conveyors have appeared in film and television. But the truth is that conveyors have been used for a number of different applications for over 200 years. Check out the infographic below for a detailed visual history of where conveyors started and where they are today, with information and data courtesy MHEDA.

The History of the Conveyor Tuff Automation material handling