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.

New Video Gives Virtual Tour of Willamette Valley Company’s New Facility

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.

For more videos and information on WVCO’s divisions, visit our YouTube Channel or click here to go to our main web page.

PRE-TEC Moves to New Location- Stays Committed to Innovation

Pre-Tec's New Home

PRE-TEC’s new building located at 990 Owen Loop North, in Eugene Oregon

PRE-TEC, the robotics division of Willamette Valley Company, has moved! The company relocated from its 38,000 sg ft. facility at 675 McKinley Street, to a new 110,000 sg ft. building with over 60,000 sg ft. of manufacturing space.
PRE-TEC Moves into New space

General Manager, Stan Reynolds commented, “ By more than doubling our manufacturing base, we are able to better serve our customers, and have room for future growth.” In addition to the PRE-TEC Division, all the groups at the corporate headquarters on Arrowsmith Street are now also in the Owen Loop building.

Founded more than 25 years ago, PRE-TEC is the largest custom robotic integrator on the West Coast. Known also for superior chemical metering products, PRE-TEC has prepared more than 165 robotic systems in the last decade alone.

Click here for the full report.

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.

Benefits of Industrial Automation Demonstrated in PRE-TEC Video

PRE-TEC

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.

 

PRE-TEC Introduces New Fanuc SCARA Robot Line

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.
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.

To learn more, click here to download the SCARA Flyer or Contact a PRE-TEC Engineer.

Advances in Industrial Robotics and Automation on the Rise


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

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.

About PRE-TEC
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.

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 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.

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