Just want to bid farewell and a special thanks to everyone at Straitline components, especially DJ, Eric, Dennis, and Mike. They were all very helpful, as they gave me a guided tour of their whole facility and gave me full run of their operation. And what an operation it was! Automation abounded at every turn, which helps them manufacture and stay competitive with much larger machine shops in their market: custom mountain bike parts.
Thanks also to Matt Pennings who is the producer for the educational videos that will be available next year to all students. He was amazing, and he made short work with what he had to work with (that woud be me!) Thanks Matt!
Where to begin… They have an FMS that manufactures bicycle pedals using a concept called “Lights Out Manufacturing”. This allows them to load pedal blanks into trays, press the button, turn off the lights and go home, and when they come in in the morning, the trays are filled with finished pedals. It is truly quite amazing as Dennis, Eric, and DJ basically set this up themselves!
The robot itself has a custom built, designed and manufactured in-house, double action pneumatic griper that allows the robot to pick a finished part out of the machining center, and put in a blank at the same time in one operation.
The cell also has a way to make sure the right tool is in the right place at the right time and that it is not broken. This is done with a laser gizmo that does it automatically. When a new tool gets put in the spindle, in a fraction of a second, the z axis moves the tool into the path of the laser which checks it. If all is well, it goes on it’s merry way!
The tools are also changed aoutomatically with an ATC in the vertical machining center. a tool carousel drops the right tool down, then a swing arm removes the last tool and inserts a new one in less than a second.
Also, as I was there they were installing a brandy new ASRS: an Automated Storage and Retrieval System. This allows them to store a whole warehouse of parts on racks in this vertical machine that takes up only 40 square feet of floor space. The racks are bar coded, and when you type in a part number, the machine will go and get the correct rack, and bring it to you. The software will also keep track of inventory.
Be sure to check out the videos of Eric and DJ explaining specific operations within the facility:
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