How Does a Robotic Wood Wrapping Machine Work?

PRE-TEC FANUC Robotics

Originally posted on www.fanucamerica.com

Wood manufacturers are discovering that industrial robots are ideal for the hazardous work environments they encounter in the woodworking industry. In this application video, PRE-TEC (a division of Willamette Valley Company) has implemented an automated wood wrapping system in which four FANUC robots apply protective wrapping, end sealant, and label to I-Joist Beams or Stacked Laminated Veneer Lumber. This system can automatically apply protective wrapping for multiple length, width and height units on the fly by calculating the load dimensions.

This system utilizes one FANUC M-710iC/70 robot, two M-16iB/10L robots, and one M-20iA/10L robot to complete the process. The FANUC robots transfer each piece, accurately measure and stretch the wrapping to match the piece size, apply the sealant, and stack the wood for distribution. The beams are measured continuously on the carousel to be sure the correct size wrapping is loaded.

The robots then wrap and staple the wood automatically. In this system, robots replaced an operation that presented stapling hazards as well as those that come with handling large pieces of engineered wood products. In addition to removing stapling and handling hazards, PRE-TEC says that this robotically automated process has made their system much more efficient. To learn more about this robotic wrap applicator system, please visit PRE-TEC’s website at http://www.pre-tec.com/custom-robotics.

Follow the link to learn more about our full line of Wrapping & Material Handling Robots.

What lies ahead in the wood products industry?

Framework, Oregon's 1st Proposed All-Wood High-rise

Framework, Oregon’s 1st Proposed All-Wood High-rise

“The Wood Innovations Grant Program helps create jobs in rural communities and keeps our forests healthy. By investing in strong markets for forest products, we can incentivize sustainable forest management and sustain our rural communities.” – U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. 

The future is certainly bright for wood products and wood energy industry! A short time ago, the U.S. Forest Service announced over $8.3 million to expand and accelerate wood products and wood energy markets. This increase will mean a total investment of over $45 million in funds from 36 business, university, non-profit, and tribal partners in 19 states. From 2013, this funding has aided in the establishing of 22 Statewide Wood Energy Teams and six Statewide Wood Utilization Teams.

Furthermore, the 2017 Wood Innovations Grant Recipients include the Arkansas Wood Utilization Council, Camptonville Forest Biomass Business Center Bioenergy Facility, Mammoth Lakes Integrated Biomass Waste Processing Center, and the Great Plains CLT market Development through Architectural Education to name a few.

On June 6, Portland officials approved a plan for the first all-wood high-rise in the United States dubbed Framework. A fitting name for what may lay the framework for other-similar all-wood high-rises to appear throughout the country. These projects are not just good for the wood industry — they are good for the country. As Gov. Kate Brown said. “Oregon’s forests are a tried and true resource that may again be the key to economic stability for rural Oregon.”

The Timber Innovation Act is another possible indicator of bright things to come. Should the bill gain Congress approval it will bring forth incentives and measures to create innovation in the timber industry and to help further development of CLT structures in the USA.

The future is no doubt a positive one for Wood Products and Wood Energy; we can’t wait to see what else is in store in the next few months.

Sources:

Forest Business Network

Washington Post

CBC

PRE-TEC Sales Manager Rufus Burton is featured on RIA’s Certified Integrator Spotlight!

“PRE-TEC’s management feel the RIA certification program is a positive step towards assuring current and future customers that the market for automation is bigger than any one provider. In addition it goes a long way towards demonstrating that the robotic community understands this fact. In the end, the Certification program benefits all participants – customers, and suppliers”. -Rufus Burton

Rufus-BurtonRufus Burton, Sales Manager for PRE-TEC (WVCO’s Robotics Division), sat down with RIA Robotics Industry Association (RIA) to share the company’s vision and experience on how becoming RIA certified has helped to improve our business and operations.

RIA Certification is an invaluable way for our robotics integrators and inventors to highlight their experience, capabilities, and aptitude to users, suppliers, investors, clients, and partners alike. It demonstrates that they’ve met the critical criteria determined by the RIA, which in turn means they’re an expert in best practices. In his interview, Rufus touches on this very topic.

“PRE-TEC’s management feel the RIA certification program is a positive step towards assuring current and future customers that the market for automation is bigger than any one provider. In addition it goes a long way towards demonstrating that the robotic community understands this fact. In the end, the Certification program benefits all participants – customers, and suppliers.”

Despite the industry itself going through tremendous growth and advances in recent years, RIA certification also serves as a means to address a very real issue currently facing the industry: a measurable standard of quality for vendors and robotic integrators.

“Today there are not enough accomplished integrators to serve the market, given the rapid pace at which companies are identifying their needs for automation. Complicating matters is the unfortunate fact that too many integrators have come and gone, leaving customers to question whether the vendor they select will complete the project let alone assure them of a successful result.”

riaCert

RIA certification goes a long way for those looking to hire vendors and create a working relationship with inventors and integrators to know that they person they’re meeting with has met a standard of critical criteria. This is the very reason PRE-TEC is RIA Certified. Our vision is one where our customer’s expectation is not only met, they know in entering a relationship with us they are achieving high quality.

“Because success comes when we deliver a system that meets the customer’s expectations; every time we enter into a business relationship we work hard to be certain our customers understand ‘why’ we work the way we do, and ‘how’ it benefits them. Each project is evaluated to determine if a flexible automated solutions will solve the targeted manufacturing problem of today, and help the customer prepare for the challenge of the future.”

Visit robotics.org to learn more and read the full interview. You can also read other testimonials on the RIA certification program page.

Spotlight on the reThink Wood Initiative

USACE Federal Center South Building 1202 - Photo Source: Architect Magazine

USACE Federal Center South Building 1202 – Photo Source: Architect Magazine

As new timber products gain in use and application as a mainstream construction production, they will—like any other popular building material—require ongoing research to remain useful in the ever changing construction landscape. This is the reason for the reThink Wood initiative was founded, a body of research striving to bring timber to the forefront of the construction world.

Formed in 2011, the reThink Wood initiative is a collective of interests working to represent North America’s wood industry: Cross-laminated timber (CLT), nail laminated timber (NLT), and glued laminated timber (glulam). The initiative strives to present a unified message of wood performance, sustainability, and cost.

Greater Texas Foundation - Photo Source: Architecture Magazine

Greater Texas Foundation – Photo Source: Architecture Magazine

reThink Wood offers a publicly accessible research library for anyone looking to be informed on the latest news and studies in the field of wood building products. More importantly, reThink Wood highlights where research is lacking in these given areas, thus encouraging more studies in those areas.

As previously mentioned, one of reThink Wood’s guiding principals is the advocacy and education of all things timber; such an example can be seen below in one of their educational videos on the benefits of wood construction.

Everyone with an interest in the latest advances of timber and wooden constructions should take advantage of the ever-updating research and resources that reThink Wood has to offer; we know we will be!

Source:
http://www.rethinkwood.com/

http://www.architectmagazine.com/

http://www.archdaily.com/

The “Robot Taxation” debate carries on

Robotics

As breakthroughs in the fields of automation and robotics become more common, so do debates into the realities of a changing workflow. The topic of taxation of robots — specifically the taxation of firms that utilize robots for automaton purposes — is one such example of these ongoing discussions, though one without a clear solution.

Last month, Bill Gates spoke to Quartz on the subject of robot taxation, stating “right now, if a human worker does $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed. If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think we’d tax the robot at a similar level. You cross the threshold of job-replacement of certain activities all sort of at once. So, you know, warehouse work, driving, room cleanup, there’s quite a few things that are meaningful job categories that, certainly in the next 20 years, being thoughtful about that extra supply is a net benefit. It’s important to have the policies to go with that.” This opinion, however, met its share of criticism; similarly a proposed measure in Europe to tax corporations that utilize robots was quickly shot down.

Robot taxation raises several hard to answer questions and difficulties. One such obstacle is the clarification of what constitutes a robot. Is a robot defined as a piece of software that automates a complex process? Is it a physical piece of automated technology? The nebulous nature of this definition creates an obstacle in the adoption of such a tax. Where is the line drawn?

A common argument made for taxation of robots is job loss — if a robot is doing the job a person could then that will result in a lost job. Though this is certainly true with any automated process, economists and other experts view the net-growth possibilities as a worthwhile investment. Economist James Bessen wrote in his response to Bill Gates’s interview “although automation will lead to further job losses in manufacturing, warehouse operations, and truck driving, the overall impact of automation across most industries will be to increase employment,” going on to compare the impact on productivity to the introduction of the bar-code scanner or ATM.

Further complicating the discussion of robot taxation is that many view it as a superficial solution to a complex problem. Robots and automated processes are not going away, after all. To this end many sides of the discussion would prefer a long-term solution to the changing workforce, such as the adoption of a universal income in order to adequately prepare for a future with growing number of automated processes.

The debate of robot taxation currently has no clear answer and will undoubtedly carry on in the near-future. One thing is clear: automated processes are not going anywhere, be they robotic manufacturing assembly or self-driving automobiles. What solutions and measures are adopted with them, however, remain to be seen.

Sources:

Quartz

Forbes

The Guardian

Fortune

 

2017 sees growing number of CLT-based classrooms

Photo Source Yakima Herald

Photo Source Yakima Herald

Adams Elementary School of Wapato, Washington will soon have its first Cross-Laminated Timber-based classrooms, thanks to a five-school-district initiative to use CLT in elementary school classrooms. Washington Department of Enterprise Services project manager Debra Delzell says “It’s a very up and coming product that is used in Europe and has been used there for over 20 years.”

She’s not wrong, CLT constructions are on the rise both in Europe and the United States. With such initiatives as the Timber Innovation Act, the United States may very well soon see more CLT constructions in the very near future. When considering the Benefits of Cross-Laminated Timber – such as reduced carbon footprint, heat insulation, faster construction, lower costs – it comes as little surprise that the state pushed for its use.

Another school undergoing a Cross-Laminated Timber construction project is Jefferson Elementary of the Mount Vernon school district. The four-classroom building is part of an ongoing initiative to lower the number of students per classroom. Thanks to the quick construction time of CLT projects, these classrooms are expected to be sitting students in the 2017/2018 school years.

Affordable, environmentally friendly, and quick to produce; as more institutions embrace this innovative building material, we expect to see more CLT constructions in educational institutions like Adams Elementary in the very near future.

Sources:

GoSkagit

ForestBusinessNetwork

KimaTV

YakimaHerald

Railroad Day on Capitol Hill

Capitol_at_Dusk_2

In a few short weeks, advocates and representatives of the Railroad Industry will make their annual journey to Washington DC to make their messages heard by lawmakers. This important annual event, Railroad Day on Capitol Hill, is taking place on March 2nd, 2017, at the Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown, 999 9th St, NW, Washington, DC.

With the ever-shifting political climate, it’s more important than ever to be heard.  As anyone who has taken part in the event before knows, it’s the most effective way for the railroad industry’s message to be reached by Congress and can only succeed if everyone turns out in order to present a unified industry.

New Dome Railroad Day Logo - 2017

The event takes place over the course of one day with appointments, meetings, and events all organized in order to communicate the important role that the railroad industry plays in America’s economy, improving our country’s role in global marketplace, and our ongoing success in helping the environment.

Attendees of Railroad Day will have the opportunity to speak directly with decision makers and help promote real change. “Railroad Day is our single most impactful day of the year with Congressional leaders,” said Linda Darr, president of the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, of 2016’s Railroad Day. “We had the opportunity to address issues of importance to our industry and the shipper customers we serve.”

Attendance is open to all Class I, II, and III railroad personnel, shippers, state and local government representatives, as well as members from the supplier community with an interest in furthering the political goals of the railroad industry. To learn more, please visit www.aslrra.org.

Photo Credit: By Martin Falbisoner – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, www.commons.wikimedia.org

NRC-REMSA 2017 Wrap Up

NRC-REMSA2017

Photo Source: REMSA Twitter

Last month, a team from Willamette Valley Company’s Railroad Division had the privilege of traveling to Boca Raton, Florida to meet with industry representatives and officials at the NRC-REMSA 2017 Conference and Exhibition. This year’s event proved once again to be an unparalleled opportunity for WVCO and other railway businesses to connect directly with professionals representing all segments of the industry. We appreciated the opportunity to listen to your questions and concerns about the growing number of challenges this industry faces and introduce you to our wood-tie remediation and other repair products.

NRC-REMSA

The annual NRC Conference and NRC-REMSA Exhibition encompassed more than 1,000 attendees, 150 exhibitors and over 25,000 square-feet of meeting space. It was a pleasure to join the many other members of the railroad industry; including service firms, manufacturers, suppliers and contractors to answer questions about our railroad products and POLYQuik Roadway Repair materials, Joint Fillers and Light-Rail Grout. Other participants of the conference/exhibition included: Union Pacific, SANDAG (San Diego), Genesee and Wyoming, Caltrans, CSX, California Rail, LA Metro, Alaska Railroad, Norfolk Southern, Canadian National, New York MTA, Watco, OmniTRAX and many others.

Speakers

Event-goers had the chance to take in seminars from key individuals in the railway and transportation industry. Rob Castiglione, the Staff Director of Human Performance Program for the Office of Railroad Safety FRA presented “Overview of FRA Part 243 Minimum Training Standards Final Rule,” where he expanded on training requirements for all railroad employees and contractors who perform safety related work, the history of the rule, and the role of associations like NRC.

John Zuspan of Track Guy Consultants presented “Means and Methods for Direct Fixation, Low Vibration Track & Embedded Track,” a seminar on the means and methods for embedded track construction.

Jerry Power’s seminar on “Overview of FRA Part 219 Drug & Alcohol Regulation for Maintenance-of-Way Workers Final Rule”  covered  the scope of FRA’s alcohol and drug regulations to cover employees who work in railroad maintenance.

Lastly, Lesa Forbes, Senior International Trade Specialist, U.S. Commercial Service, spoke on new opportunities abroad and how US Commercial Services can help your firm expand your international business.

HallOfFame

Photo Source RT&S

The event also saw the induction of new members into the NRC Hall of Fame, Ron Brown, John Zuspan, and Rick Ebersold. The three were honored for their work in NRC, REMSA, and the railway industry as a whole.

Below are some photos of NRC-REMSA 2017, courtesy of REMSA’s Twitter page.

NRC-REMSA2017

Photo Source: REMSA 2017

NRC-REMSA2017

Photo Source: REMSA Twitter

WVCO was proud to take a part in NRC-REMSA 2017 and look forward to taking part once again next year!

Sources:

Railway News

NCRMA

RT & S

What is the difference between Synthetic Patch, Epoxy and Putty?

Epoxy

By now, you already know that WVCO offers a wide variety of wood products solutions to the wood industry including patches, fillers, extenders, coatings, inks, abrasives, tapes, and a wide variety of outstanding application equipment and parts.

But how much do you really know about Willamette Valley Company (WVCO) products? One of the questions we often get is “What’s the difference between Synthetic Patch, Epoxy and Putty?”. Unique details about these products are outlined in this video, but keep reading for more info.

What is a Synthetic Patch?
Synthetic Patch is a two-component polyurethane that is dispensed through a metering system.

What does it do?
Synthetic Patch, often referred to as “patch” or “poly” repairs veneer voids, knot holes, splits, and cracks in plywood panels, MDO, HDO, laminated wood, and lumber. The polyurethane flows in and sets up in seconds to form a sandable patch that can be treated much like the wood it repairs. It can be nailed, screwed, painted, finished or overlayed. Patch comes in a variety of colors to compliment the wood being filled. Willamette Valley Company (WVCO) Synthetic Patch has passed the rigorous standards of the APA-Engineered Wood Association.

A great example of this product is WVCO’s CU-100 Synthetic Patch, designed and APA approved to fill and up-grade plywood panels, laminated beams, mouldings, door blanks and other wood products. It is a two-component ambient temperature cured polyurethane resin system that is mixed and applied using WVCO’s dispensing and meter equipment.

What is Epoxy?
Epoxy is a two-component product, hardener and resin, that is mixed on-ratio either by hand or through a metering system. WVCO Epoxies come in a variety of set times and in one-to-one and two-to-one ratios.

An example of one of our Epoxies is E-100 Epoxy, an ultra-clear, high-gloss finish, faster set epoxy. This easy-to-use, 1:1 mix ratio is ideal for house hold and craft projects. For industrial or large projects it is best applied using WVCO metering system. It is versatile enough to be used on most surfaces: especially wood either smooth or rough, stained or painted. E-100 forms a thick, durable, high gloss, clear finish for tables, clocks, game boards and furniture.

What does it do?
Epoxy creates a tough repair that bonds tenaciously to the wood in large voids and knotholes in lumber, laminated beams, siding, molding, and plywood. Once cured, the epoxy can be treated just like wood: sawed, nailed, screwed, sanded, painted or stained. Epoxies are produced in various wood colors. WVCO Epoxy’s have passed the rigorous standards of the APA-Engineered Wood Association.

What is Putty?
WVCO Wood Putties are water-based pliable putties that can be hand or machine applied. They are designed for softwoods, hardwoods, and particleboard edge filling. WVCO Putties are used by cabinetmakers and on large production lines to fill core voids, larger holes, and splits in wood. The putties come in a variety of colors to blend with the woods being filled. Putty is easily sanded, is stainable, and takes a finish. WVCO Wood Putties have passed the industry standards of the APA-Engineered Wood Association.

WVCO’s Famowood is a good example of a putty. Famowood S/F FTS Birch is an acrylic-based wood filler used to repair defects in all types of wood. This product is supplied to the customer in a ready to use form and is formulated to be smoothly applied with a flexible putty knife or automated system. Once dried, it can be easily sanded, stained or painted.

To learn more about these and other wood product solutions, please visit www.wilvaco.com/WoodProducts or email your question to info@wilvaco.com

Railway Supply Community to Law Makers: Don’t Impose Regulations

Rail Supply IndustryThe Willamette Valley Company has joined a growing group of industry leaders within the railway supply community and prominent rail industry trade associations to speak out against the Surface Transportation Board‘s proposal on reregulatory efforts, including so called “reciprocal switching” and commodity reregulation.

Congressional leaders John Thune, Chairman, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and Bill Nelson, Ranking Member; and Bill Shuster, Chairman, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Peter DeFazio, Ranking Member, have received a letter signed by dozens of suppliers and contractors pointing out the STB’s “recent trend of imposing regulations first, and discovering the consequences later.”

“As the collective voice of businesses that serve railroads and provide the equipment and technologies to enhance the efficiency and safety of their operations, we know…over-involvement of the federal government in the day-to-day business decisions of railroads once pushed this sector and the larger railroad ecosystem of customers and suppliers to the brink of collapse,” the letter states. “Without the wisdom to partially deregulate the industry in 1980, America would have lost a privately owned and maintained economic engine that provides quality jobs to support families and communities, affordable and environmentally friendly options for businesses to move goods and critical infrastructure to support passenger railroads.”

Here are more excerpts from that letter:

“We are deeply concerned that this regulatory effort could greatly cut into capital spending by the railroads. Past analysis by the Association of American Railroads found that a similar proposal could affect an estimated 7.5 million carloads of traffic, placing nearly $8 billion in revenues at risk. Reduced revenues mean reduced money for investment in the rail network and reduced demand for businesses like ours. Continued investments are critical for maintaining a safe and efficient rail network and allow us to provide strong employment opportunities in our communities.

The railroad supply community plays an integral role in maintaining the world’s safest, most efficient and highly competitive freight railroad system. We also provide high-paying and high-skilled manufacturing jobs in our communities.

We support a transparent and efficient STB and believe that the agency maintains an important role in maintaining a proven regulatory structure. But we do not support the STB’s recent trend of imposing regulations first, and discovering the consequences later.”

Click here to read more.