“We are excited to bring to market an affordable, expandable, and easy-to-use robotic weld cell system that enhances the capabilities of companies as they first turn to automation and beyond.” – Pre-Tec General Manager, Stan Reynolds
Even though Willamette Valley Company’s Pre‐Tec Division has engineered more than 370 robotic systems and has become one of the largest integrators of robotic systems in the western region of North America, we are always searching for new ways to offer effective solutions through robotic automation.
One of our latest expamples of this is Pre-Tec’s unique line-up of FASWeld Standard Robotic Weld Cells, built for companies using automation for the first time, as well as customers looking to expand their robotic automation capabilities. Each system is developed using the highest quality industrial components.
The small footprint through single-piece platforms allows for rapid delivery and installation time through pre-engineered solutions that are affordable and simple to use. The robotic experts at Pre-Tec have designed solutions that enhance load and unload time through dual-zone systems with room for customization as needs change or expand.
Careful planning went into each solution with the presence of forklift pockets for quick transport within the facility with leveling functions to ensure accuracy. Safety is at the forefront with the presence of modular fencing, welding flash curtains, push button operator controls, and service access doors.
PRE-TEC, by expanding their material handling capabilities, continues the problem solving tradition by producing custom robotic operation solutions for other companies’ manufacturing challenges. Learn more about our robotic weld cells by going to www.pre-tec.com or download more information here.
This month, the organization published two new case studies illustrating the benefits of engineered wood and mass timber products. Both case studies are available as free downloads on the APA website, www.apawood.org.
Photo @ APA – The Engineered Wood Association
Beauty and the Budget showcases Portland, Oregon, LEVER Architecture’s use of plywood and mass timber elements throughout the Flex building, a multi-purpose structure in Portland. In addition to exposed plywood for the shear walls, the LEVER team used exposed glulam beams throughout and glulam for the stairs as well.
“Innovative use of wood allows us to create powerful architecture even for projects with limited budgets,” architect George Michael Rusch said. “When you can use mass timber for its inherent structural properties, you can make buildings that speak volumes. It’s about the morality of the material.”
Mass Timber has Banks Seeing Green features the new First United Bank branches in Shawnee, Oklahoma, and Fredericksburg, Texas. Both the first mass timber structures in their states, these net-zero buildings were designed with engineered wood for economic and sustainability reasons.
“First United wanted buildings that really showed how they were built and related to their customer base,” according to Gensler project architect Taylor Coleman. “Using mass timber was the best way to accomplish those goals.”
APA – The Engineered Wood Association is a nonprofit trade association that works with its members to create structural wood products of exceptional strength, versatility, and reliability. Combining the research efforts of scientists and engineers at APA’s 42,000 square-foot research center with the knowledge gained from decades of fieldwork, and cooperation with our member manufacturers, APA promotes new solutions and improved processes that benefit the entire industry.
Learn more about APA – The Engineered Wood Association.
The Willamette Valley Company has formed a number of valuable partnerships with multiple organizations that helped us lead the way in the Wood Products industry in the United States and across the world. This month, we are spotlighting one of the newer partnerships we have formed with the European Panel (EPF) Federation, the “voice of the EU wood-based panel industry”. EPF represents the European manufacturers of particleboard, MDF, OSB, hard and softboard, and plywood and represents members in 25 countries.
As demand for wood products increases globally, the EU wood panel industry is thriving; bringing in about 22 billion euro each year while creating more than 100,000 jobs for an estimated 5,000 businesses across Europe. In the ever-changing political and economic environment across Europe, there is a growing need for a collective voice to speak on behalf of members of the EU wood-based panel industry and European Panel (EPF) Federation provides just that. “Working with our members, we make the case for the industry as an integral part of the EU’s bio and circular economy, while championing high standards of wood-based panel manufacturers and their contribution to a greener, more sustainable economy,” states the organization.
Their mission is to advocate for all producers of particleboard, MDF, OSB, hardboard, softboard and plywood producers, suppliers and stakeholders for economic, technical and environmental issues towards European and international institutions. In addition, the organization provides detailed communications and data for its members as well as increase opportunities to showcase their members’ work.
Architects, builders, and designers all over Europe are embracing wood products for construction projects due to multiple economic and environmental benefits of using the material. Wooden structures are proving to be more durable and provides other benefits like fire resistance, superior acoustic insulation, better thermal insulation in addition to an overall pleasing aesthetic. For more on this, read Types of Wood-Based Panels and Their Economic Impact.
As WVCO is a multinational corporation, we are especially proud to partner with this outstanding organization that is taking steps to further the wood products industry throughout Europe. We are recognized the world over by industry associations and organizations, as well as other leading-edge companies who have found it beneficial to forge partnerships with us in order to better serve their customers and memberships. Those same partnerships have enabled us to better serve our customers by giving us access to the latest technologies, methodologies, and resources. Some of our other valued partnerships include:
Ever been curious about what happens inside The Willamette Valley Company? A new video is offering viewers a rare look into the day-to-day operations of the Willamette Valley Company facility in Eugene, Oregon. Take an aerial journey into our new 110,000 sg ft. building with over 60,000 sg ft. of manufacturing space on Owen Loop Road and get a birds-eye view of our technicians, scientists, and engineers hard at work creating high-performance custom solutions in the largest custom robotic integrator on the West Coast- WVCO’s PRE-TEC division.
PRE-TEC has been creating innovative, automated solutions for manufacturing companies throughout North America for over thirty years. The experienced automation team of mechanical and electrical engineers believes that the one-on-one communication with each client, on every project, when designing and building systems has been the key to their success. The company strives to collaborate with each customer to develop a consistently reliable and cost-effective solution which address the customer’s manufacturing challenges, can be successfully implemented, and rapidly deployed. PRE-TEC is proud to introduce their new operation to manufacturers in the Western States and across North America.
In case you haven’t noticed, we talk a lot about Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT). More and more architects and construction companies around the world are embracing CLT for its economic advantages, construction quality, durability, sustainability, and aesthetics. Some even refer to it as “Concrete of the 21st Century”.
“How can wood possibly replace steel and concrete in high-rise buildings? The answer is cross-laminated timber (CLT), a relatively new engineered wood product that is part of a broader category of products called “mass timber” that includes already popular products such as glulam beams. CLT panels can be made in dimensions up to 10 feet wide and 40 feet long and more than a foot thick.
The panels are composed of layers of individual pieces of lumber laminated together, with each layer arranged perpendicular to the next rather than longitudinally. An odd number of layers are bonded together by glue, dowels or nails. Once assembled, the panels form a box-like structure where the walls and floors provide both structural stability and lateral stiffness.” (Source: seattlebusinessmag.com).
It’s exciting to watch the innovative buildings and construction happening around the world right now using this engineered wood material. Proposals for new projects include a 500,000-sq-ft skyscraper in New Jersey, a 100-story tower in London, a 40-story building in Stockholm, and a residential complex in Vancouver. An 18-story CLT wood structure, a student residence at the University of British Columbia, is nearing completion (Source: woodworkingnetwork.com).
Here are a few projects that recently caught our eye:
McDonald’s New CLT Building in Chicago
McDonald’s new redesigned flagship store in Chicago is built predominantly with wood and cross-laminated timber (CLT) and features a number of sustainable elements. The LEED-certified building designed by Ross Barney Architects gives us a preview as to what all McDonalds stores will look like by 2020.
Builders in the U.K. are tackling the affordable housing shortage by constructing Watts Grove, a project being built for Swan Housing, “one of the UK’s leading regeneration housing associations.” This exciting project, designed by Thistleton Waugh Artchitects features innovative design using Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT). Click here to see more or watch the video below
The Portland Flatiron
The timber-framed, mixed-use Portland Flatiron building currently under construction in North Portland is another project that will be a real asset to that community. This cross-laminated timber mixed-use building in North Portland is going to have four floors of office space above first floor retail space and basement level parking.
As industrial automation technology continues to develop and evolve, our PRE-TEC team is here to help businesses all over the country prepare for the future by developing innovative custom manufacturing solutions to help businesses grow. Since the 1990s, WVCO’s PRE-TEC division has been at the forefront of innovative manufacturing solutions and the development of precision equipment. Our team has prepared hundreds of robotic systems through the decades that have led to measurable improvements for the company’s overall “bottom line”.
It is not difficult to understand how the use of industrial robots is a cost-effective way to produce higher quality products and increase productivity, but if you look deeper, you will see the benefits to human workers as well. In fact, there are a number of ways the evolution of robotics are improving conditions and creating new opportunities for workers. However, the use of robotics is not without controversy.
The Fear of Automation & Robotics
There is an unfortunate perception that robots will eliminate the need for the human workforce in the near future. Job security is always a primary concern among manufacturing workers and the projected increase in automation is causing anxiety among the American workforce. It is understandable why many employees and labor unions can perceive automation as a threat to their well-being and job security.
How Does Automation Benefit Workers?
In this post, we’d like to counter those fears and make the point that automation does not necessarily equal job loss. In fact, it’s quite the contrary- the evidence is showing that automation is actually improving prospects for American workers. A wide range of industry experts agree that automation will lead to better working conditions, higher pay and job growth.
1) Safer Working Conditions
By taking on the necessary manufacturing tasks that can be repetitive and cumbersome for workers, automation creates a safer work environment and reduces the risk of serious and sometimes fatal on-the-job accidents. Eliminating these tasks in a fast-paced production line reduces stress, mental fatigue, and injuries that can result from lifting and moving large objects.
2) More Satisfaction
Business experts predict that improving tasks like parts retrieval or transferring materials within a facility will allow workers to redirect their skills to better uses. If machines can perform tasks that are repetitive or even dangerous for employees to perform, workers have more opportunities focus their efforts on more engaging job functions that improve quality and customer service like Q.C. checks, special orders, machine operation, maintenance, repair, and line supervision.
3) Higher Pay
Historically, supply and demand drive wage increases and businesses can only pay workers more if they become more productive. Automation enables human workers to be more efficient and focus on more valuable tasks that justify a higher wage. Manufacturing job titles and tasks are changing and employers are adding higher paying job opportunities like system operators, supervisors, programmers, and technicians to keep operating systems in top condition and running efficiently.
4) More jobs
In most cases, utilizing automation for materials handling results in higher output for a lower cost. As a company grows, so will the need for more jobs in that industry. As an example, the Wall Street Journal cites the growth of the banking industry after automated tellers were introduced in the 1970s. After ATMs were introduced, more branches were opened which resulted in more positions and job openings to be filled for decades.
Like computers, automation does not mean job elimination. Despite their advanced capabilities, automated robotic systems do not eliminate the need for a human workforce. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, more than 90% of jobs will not be able to be fully automated. Robotics and automation will improve production, employee safety, and satisfaction, which results in a lower turnover. Adapting to the “age of robotics” is a necessary change businesses will need to make in order to stay competitive and to help maximize their worker’s potential.
What Can Industrial Automation do for Manufacturing Businesses?
Numerous case studies conducted through the decades have demonstrated time and time again that implementing product line automation with robotic technology is a cost-effective way to produce higher quality products, increase productivity and improve safety. This PRE-TEC video demonstrates how automation increases precision while saving time:
As the technology develops, it is estimated that the number of industrial automation and robots deployed worldwide will go up to 2.6 million units by 2019. WVCO’s robotics division, PRE-TEC, is helping businesses all over the country prepare for the future by developing innovative custom manufacturing solutions to help businesses grow. We’ll let them tell you in their own words.
If you haven’t already heard of Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) by now, you will. More and more architects and designers are making the switch to building with Cross-Laminated Timber, some even going as far to refer to it as the “Concrete of the 21st Century”.
But what is it? Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is a large-scale, prefabricated, solid engineered wood panel that is made up of kiln-dried wooden boards stacked in alternating directions (where the cross of the name comes from), then stuck together with structural adhesives. While at the mill, CLT panels are cut to size, including door and window openings, with state-of-the art CNC (Computer Numerical Controlled) routers, capable of making complex cuts with high precision. Finished panels are typically 2 to 10 feet wide, with lengths up to 60 feet and thickness up to 20 inches.
Watch the video below for more details:
What are the Benefits of Cross-Laminated Timber? CLT is lightweight yet very strong, with superior acoustic, fire, seismic, and thermal performance making it ideal for long spans in walls, floors, and roofs. It’s also fast and easy to install, generating almost no waste onsite. Finished CLT panels are exceptionally stiff, strong, and stable. Other benefits include:
Simple, Quick Construction
CLT panels are lightweight and arrive on site with a structural system ready to be assembled. The process is both simple and swift, allowing for immediate and accurate construction which in turn saves time and money.
Though it may sound strange to tout fire-resistance as a benefit of a wooden building material, it’s one of Cross-Laminated Timber’s greatest strengths. The lamination of CLT has an inherent fire-resistance to it, and the construction of the panels and structures allows little room for fire to spread. Additionally, the solid thermal mass of CLT prevents the conduction of heat from one side of the panel to the other, allowing extremely high temperatures to remain isolated to a side as the other remains at room temperature.
The nature of wood makes it the only building material that can be regrown and feasible in the long-term. Precision cutting of CLT minimizes on-site waste and its manufacturing requires less energy than producing steel or concrete. Cross-Laminated Timber’s light carbon footprint is one of its greatest strengths.
Solid wood paneling provides superior acoustic insulation, dampening both airborne and impact noises. Its lightweight nature also leads to quiet construction, making it ideal for urban development.
In the same way that Cross-Laminated Timber’s airtight design creates auditory insulation it also creates thermal insulation. Tightly packed panels can trap 90% of the heat that would ordinarily escape from a home. CLT’s previously-mentioned high thermal mass means that temperatures are kept stable and comfortable.
There’s a warm, soothing visual quality to building with wood that separates it from the lifeless concrete slabs that typically fill a city. Cross-Laminated Timber also grants designers with the freedom to experiment with more organic and creative structures than previously allowed by old-fashioned building techniques.
When comparing the manufacturing costs of certain steels and concrete, as well as the money saved on shorter construction time, CLT comes out as at a competitive price.
PRE-TEC is committed to providing industry-leading, flexible, automated solutions through robotic integration. The new Fanuc SCARA robot line now offered by PRE-TEC introduces new opportunities for our customers to make use of a cost-effective and robust product for their small, fast, and simple applications.
The Fanuc SCARA robot line is the new standard in that product line for precision high-speed picking and tracking and easy integration into process lines and systems. Using a limited workspace, the SCARA robot is able to reach a large pick and place area.
Equipped with a 360-degree radius work envelope, work can be completed behind the SCARA robot with a compact inner radius that leaves more workstations around the machine for additional efficiencies. The system is perfect for applications with 180-degree operation in one second with precise part handling.
Ideal for applications across consumer electronics, automotive components, medical devices, plastics and rubbers, and food and beverages, the SCARA robot can be quickly integrated and redeployed with small footprints and with low power requirements. There is a flexibility achieved in the workspace, specifically when workflow and layout are critical. The SCARA robot can move in full z strokes, across a single plane or in a parallel plane motion, improving access and efficiency when cost is critical.
Competitive with linear actuators, the Fanuc SCARA robot is able to replace hard automation tools, specifically where a high level of stiffness is required for precise placement of small parts on high-speed lines.
PRE-TEC can design and build cost-effective and time-saving options for customers with the SCARA robot line, a solution that can compete with high-speed CAM driven hard automation solutions. Contact our team of automation engineers to see how we can help improve your manufacturing layout with a cost-effective and time-efficient solution using Fanuc’s SCARA robots.
The concept of utilizing industrial robotics in mass production is nothing new. In fact, the use of robotics and automation go back to the 1970s as industries wanted to find new ways to increase product quality and productivity without increasing costs. In the 1990s, a group of innovative, take-charge individuals at Willamette Valley Company saw the benefits of industrial automation for metering chemical products and launched our robotics division. This division was later named “PRE-TEC” in 2009.
As mass production evolves and grows, our PRE-TEC engineers understand that the use of industrial robots is a cost-effective way to produce higher quality products and increase productivity. Our team of engineers and scientists work closely with our industry partners to contribute innovative ideas and stay ahead of the curve when it comes to advances in the robotics field.
Our robotics partner, Robotic Industries Association (RIA), believes that the use industrial automation equipment is significantly on the rise. As the technology develops, it is estimated that the number of industrial automation and robots deployed worldwide will go up to 2.6 million units by 2019.
There have been numerous exciting advances made in industrial robotics over the years. One example is the use of Vision-Guided Robot (VGR) Systems. VGR robots, robotic systems fitted with vision sensors, are able to work for longer periods of time with a high level of speed and reliability. VGR systems not only surpass the use of traditional “blind” robots, they are highly adaptable and easy to implement.
“Flexibility is a key driver of ROI in robotics,” says RIA in this article. “3D vision capabilities have allowed robots to complete more than one task without reprogramming, as well as the ability to account for unforeseen variables in work environments. Further, 3D vision allows a robot to recognize what’s in front of it, to a certain extent, and react accordingly.”
By automating tasks that previously were done manually, 3D vision-guided robots are revolutionizing mass production. Using 3D smart sensors with onboard software, an industrial robot can perform tasks like “Pick and Place”, the action of automatically sensing and picking up the correct parts and placing them in the desired order and location. This function, something that could previously only be done by a skilled worker, was once a challenge for robots, but it is now a common practice in the day-to-day operations in most factories.
To learn more about 3D Smart Sensors in Vision-Guided Robotic Systems, click here.
PRE-TEC’s New Fanuc SCARA Robot Line
Another exciting advance in industrial robotics technology is the ability for robots to work in a more efficient and compact workspace. PRE-TEC’s new Fanuc SCARA robot line is the new standard for precision high-speed picking and tracking. Equipped with a 360-degree radius work envelope, work can be completed behind the SCARA robot with a compact inner radius that leaves more workstations around the machine for additional efficiencies. Click here to learn more about the Fanuc SCARA robot line.
The PRE-TEC division of Willamette Valley Company is currently the largest custom robotic integrator on the West Coast having installed systems throughout North America. PRE-TEC offers support in areas of training, programming, spare parts, and preventive maintenance. Please visit www.wilvaco.com to learn more about WVCO’s other divisions.