WVCO looks back on 2019 – the year of innovation.

WVCO Railroad Products

2019 was a year of innovation. The wood products industry thrived as game-changing technology was introduced into the marketplace while cross-laminated timber, known for its economic advantages, construction quality, durability, sustainability, and aesthetics, was embraced by more architects and construction companies around the world.

There were great advances made in automation that will make manufacturing jobs safer and more efficient. WVCO’s Idaho Milling and Grain division kept their eyes on exciting new research that may help farmers adapt to climate pressures as researchers developed technology to create 3D-printed concrete that could revolutionize the construction industry and decrease its carbon footprint.

WVCO continued to develop robotic solutions for automated engineering, finishing, material handling, welding and more. Our team of engineers also developed unique and customized solutions that will enable companies to overcome challenges in the transportation industry and infrastructure.

Here’s a look back at some of our highlights from 2019.

In May, our WVCO Wood Products team traveled to Hannover, Germany to showcase WVCO’s wood product solutions and equipment at LIGNA 2019, the world’s leading trade show for tools and machinery for the wood processing industry. It was an exciting opportunity for us to meet with key wood and forestry industry leaders from around the globe. LIGNA 2019 had three focus themes: “Integrated Woodworking – Customized Solutions”, “Smart Surface Technology” and “Access to Resources and Technology”.

Over the summer, the WVCO team introduced the FastPatch HPRE, High-Performance Rail Encapsulator to address some of the challenges embedded rail systems on city streets present such as excessive vibration, noise, rail deflection, and maintenance difficulties. This new system is designed from WVCO’s innovative polymer and dispensing equipment and offers fast installation and a long-lasting solution for embedded rail systems with key performance properties.

We also had the pleasure of opening our newly remodeled R & D Center for our Research & Development team in Eugene. The beautiful new facility is equipped with the latest and most sophisticated analytical technologies on the market and designed with our entire R & D team in mind.

In August, Cleco presented Willamette Valley Company (WVCO) with a $34,182.40 check at our Pineville, Louisana facility for upgrading its interior and exterior lights to LED lighting through Cleco’s Power Wise™ energy efficiency program. With the new LED lighting, WVCO is projected to save 341,824 kWh annually, which is estimated to be enough electricity to power 28 homes for one year!

Also in August, our Pre-Tec division was prominently featured in this piece published in Eugene’s Register Guard.

The WVCO Railroad Division exhibited products like SpikeFast®, the industry’s most reliable product for plugging spike holes, and other custom solutions related to rail and highway safety at the 2019 National Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety Conference. The conference brought leaders in the rail and highway industries together to present contemporary topics and new technology to an international audience.

In September,the WVCO team traveled to Tampa, Florida to meet with professionals in the marine industry and present how our innovative FastPatch technology can cut time and expenses at IBEX 2019, North America’s leading technical boat-building showcase.

Our team also exhibited our railroad products and FastPatch products at Railway Interchange 2019, the largest U.S.-based technical conference and trade show for the railroad industry! took place in September in Minneapolis, Minnesota and was a great success. An estimated 7,000+ attendees and hundreds of exhibitors from all over the world gathered at this combined railway industry event, sponsored by AREMA (American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association) and CMA (Coordinated Mechanical Associations) and the exhibits of RSI (Railway Supply Institute), REMSA (Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association) and RSSI (Railway Systems Suppliers, Inc.)

In November, WVCO was named “APA Supplier of the Year” at the APA Annual Meeting held in conjunction with the EWTA Info Fair in Tucson, Arizona. This marks the fifth year in a row we have received this esteemed award, and the tenth out of the last 14 years! EWTA’s Supplier of the Year Awards are based on the quality and delivery of EWTA member products, equipment and/or services supplied to APA members, as determined by a vote of APA mill managers.

2019 also brought major changes to the world of robotics. WVCO’s PRE-TEC division enhanced robotic weld cell automation by introducing a 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.

What new developments do you predict 2020 will bring? Stay tuned and find out! WVCO wishes all of our employees, customers, partners and friends a very happy new year!

PRE-TEC Enhances Robotic Weld Cell Automation With FASWeld Standard Robotic Weld Cells

FASWeld Standard Robotic Weld Cells

“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.

PRE-TEC Enhances Robotic Weld Cell Automation With FASWeld Standard Robotic Weld Cells

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 Robotic Automation

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.

PRE-TEC Product Spotlight: Conveyor Systems from Bosch Rexroth VarioFlow Plus

In the age of automation and material handling, conveyor systems are evolving into more complex, integrated systems that are customized to fit the individual company’s needs. Though the PRE‐TEC Division of Willamette Valley Co. 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 expand upon our offerings.

Our customer base is frequently improving its manufacturing operations with conveyor systems so when PRE-TEC had the opportunity to join the Bosch Rexroth Corporations ProBuilder Network for VarioFlow plus product back in 2017, it seemed like the logical next step for our company. With access to Rexroth’s ProBuilder product, our PRE‐TEC engineers can design and integrate conveyor solutions for facilities in markets ranging from food packaging, pharmaceutical, medical, to any number of small part handling operations.

With the conveyor systems from Bosch Rexroth VarioFlow plus, companies can move products horizontally, vertically, on an incline or decline, sub-floor, around obstacles and over long distances.

About PRE-TEC
Since launching in the’90s, the PRE‐TEC Division of Willamette Valley Co. 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. PRE‐TEC offers flexible automated solutions, in the form of advanced technology systems that provide process improvements able to meet expectations for speed, accuracy, flexibility, and optimal throughput in all types of manufacturing and assembly environments. The PRE‐TEC Equipment Division supplies six‐axis robot arms, custom built end‐of‐arm tools, and conveyance systems in the form of integrated manufacturing cells for finishing, material handling, and welding.

How Is Automation and Robotics Good for the American Workforce?

PRE-TEC Robotics Willamette Valley Company

“The overwhelming conclusion of industry experts is that automation doesn’t spell the end of gainful employment for humans, but rather, the improvement of employment opportunities.”

– From How Robotic Automation is Changing the Job Market

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.

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.

PRE-TEC is a Proud MotoMan Strategic Partner

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The Precision Technologies Division (PRE-TEC) of Willamette Valley Company has defined itself by integrating the best design, technology, and customer focus to produce precision solutions for your production environment.

WVCO’s PRE-TEC division is currently the largest custom robotic integrator on the West Coast.  Our engineers have prepared and installed numerous robotic systems for a broad base of industries including Aerospace, Consumer tools, Food/beverage, Medical/dental equipment, Household fixtures, Sports equipment, Vehicle parts and Wood products.

Motoman Partner PRE-TEC’s partnerships with leading robotics companies like Yaskawa Motoman, enable us to provide customers with flexible automated solutions designed specifically for their operation.

By participating in the Motoman Strategic Partner program, our engineers are able to design and build turn-key solutions using multi-axis robot arms, custom end-of-arm tooling, conveyance systems, and safety hardware.

Founded in 1989, Yaskawa Motoman is a leading robotics company providing automation products and solutions for virtually every industry and robotic application. Combined with sister and partner companies, Yaskawa Motoman supports robotic solutions throughout the world.

Motoman Robotics’ MSP Program is designed for “Best in Class” system integrators and application developers. As a Premier Motoman Strategic Partner, PRE-TEC is a considered a long term and national-based partner recognized as an industry leader in our field.

To learn more about how PRE-TEC can serve you, watch this testimonial of PRE-TEC’s flexible automation services and visit www.pre-tec.com.