Industrial Robotics At Ajax

Industrial Robotics At Ajax

Industrial Robotic Welding Cell at Ajax

From prototyping to short-run to high-volume, super-efficient lines, robots can handle an extremely broad spectrum of production assignments. Ajax will install a Yaskawa AR1440 robot with a welding effector during the summer of 2022. Read more in The Innovator.

This animation shows how the new Ajax robot will operate. Note how the robot can automatically clean the welding effector and then move on to the next welding project. This self-cleaning capability is one of the keys to the robot’s efficiency.

The Ajax welding cell is a fully enclosed, dual workstation cell with safety interlocking sliding doors. It features a Miller Auto-Continuum MIG power supply for superior weld control, a smart touchscreen teaching pendant, and faster and more efficient offline programming.

Industrial Robots - an example of a welding cell

The Metal Forming Benefits of Industrial Robots

From the metal former’s perspective, the benefits of industrial robots are significant and multi-faceted. Primary among them are safety, quality, speed, versatility, and resource allocation. Here’s more detail on each of these benefits:

1. Operator Safety
These days, operator safety is the nut hand*. Many Ajax colleagues have been working together for years and are good friends. No one wants to see a friend get hurt. Robotics can reduce the risk of repetitive motion injury, burn, toxic inhalation, eye damage, and cutting or crushing injury. (Two thumbs up!)
There’s also practical aspects: accidents and injuries can shut down production lines, resulting in late shipments to customers and increased insurance premiums. Anything Ajax can do to reduce that risk is generally worth the expense and effort.

*In poker, the “nut hand” is the strongest possible hand in a given situation and a guaranteed winner. As the story goes, in the old days, a player with such a hand might bet beyond his stake and place the nuts from his wagon wheel on the table, thus assuring other players that he would be unable to flee and would have to make good on his wager.

2. Consistent Quality
Because robotic movements are so precise – generally within 0.02 mm of repeatable accuracy – quality issues are very rare. In fact, it’s far more likely that any non-conformance is related to flaws in materials, fixtures, machine setup, or electrical power interruptions rather than the robotic machinery. Robots make few mistakes, so there’s very little material waste, adding to overall efficiency.

In both production and material handling applications, industrial robots utilize end-of-arm tools (EOATs), also known as end effectors, to hold and manipulate the work. Robotic effectors, often provided separately by third-party companies, include grippers, magnets, sensors, clamps, suction cups, cameras, welding torches, sanders, and more. The third-party companies that make effectors have come a long way in the past few years and can design their products to take full advantage of the vast range of robotic capabilities.

3. Production Speed
Industrial robots are fast. The volume of parts a robot can crank out in an hour relative to manual production is truly impressive. Even moderately-sized Robotic Weld Quality robots offer thousands of pounds of payload capacity and a reach of 10-20 feet or more.

Industrial robotic welders produce feet or more. With this kind of range, process improvement engineers can consistently amazing welds. The precise configure robotic solutions that get the job done quickly.

In addition, the fatigue that humans can experience over an eight or ten-hour effector would be nearly impossible to shift often leads to speed reduction and mistakes. Robots can go at it 24-7 reproduce manually. with no performance degradation.

4. Versatility
Industrial robot operating systems are much improved these days, enabling operators to program a wide variety of metal forming tasks. The custom fixtures that hold the workpieces are created in-house, adding to versatility.

Motion controllers, the brains of robots, can be scaled or adapted to meet customer needs relatively quickly. Up to four robots can be added to a single controller to multiply part production. Plus, robots can be programmed to perform multiple jobs in a single setup, reducing project transition times.

5. Operator Assignment

When it’s hard to find good colleagues (like now), robots help shorthanded on the left was welded manually, while shifts keep up the pace. A job that might have taken three welders can now be the hinge on the right was robotically performed by a single robot operator, freeing two workers for other fabrication projects. That’s a huge advantage, especially now.

Conclusion
The manufacturing skills gap persists, despite our best efforts to attract, educate, and grow our manufacturing workforce, making the arrival of industrial robots on the plant floor a welcome sight indeed. Robots bring safety, quality, speed, versatility and other production benefits that are too important to ignore. And for the metal forming customer: consistent conformance, on-time deliveries, and the lowest possible cost.

Yet automation success still hinges on humans. Critical thinking, problem-solving, process engineering, and fine-tuned people skills are needed to amplify the benefits of robots. It’s ironic that industrial automation, often labeled a job-killer in decades past, will instead enhance and extend career opportunities for colleagues willing to learn a new skill set.

Automated production solutions such as industrial robots are a hit because they’re win-win. Both Ajax and our customers will realize the benefits. By investing in industrial robots, and the people we need to engineer and operate them, Ajax is taking yet another big step toward ongoing continuous improvement and maximized customer satisfaction.

Many thanks to our friends at Mechatronic Solutions for their assistance with this robotics project.

Ajax At Design2Part In Atlanta

Ajax At Design2Part In Atlanta

Join the Ajax customer service team in Atlanta on March 30 and 31 at Design2Part.  Meet us in booth #212, meet the guys, and take a look at our showcase of stamped and fabricated parts.  See you in Atlanta!

Design2Part | Ajax booth visitors

Design2Part is The Region’s Largest Manufacturing Trade Show

Entering its 20th year at the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta, the Design-2-Part Show has been a show Ajax never misses. Our booth visitors enjoy being able to see and touch the dozens of stamped, formed, punched, fiber laser-cut, and welded parts we’ll have on hand.

More importantly, visitors can get answers regarding metal forming processes, logistics, materials, and more.  So make your plans today to stop by booth #212 and say hello to Ajax customer service team members Don Wellman and Jayson Marcott.

Ajax Assists Robotics Team At Providence Academy (Update: Final Results)

Ajax Assists Robotics Team At Providence Academy (Update: Final Results)

Ajax Metal Forming Solutions and Sales Engineer Jayson Marcott have again joined the robotics team at Providence Academy of Plymouth, Minnesota, to create a new entry for the FIRST® Robotics Competition. FIRST® is the world’s leading youth-serving nonprofit advancing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.

FIRST® organizes teams of high school students and their instructors to build high-tech robots that launch balls into goals, hang on bars, operate along balance beams, and more. Although a kit of standard robot parts is provided, FIRST® encourages teams to design custom parts that improve robot performance. That’s where Ajax and Sales Engineer Jayson Marcott stepped in to assist. The Providence team designed custom parts made from lightweight aluminum but lacked the material and machinery needed to make the parts. Ajax provided the aluminum and allocated time on the company’s Salvagnini L3 fiber laser and Loewer Beltmaster to cut and deburr the parts.

“Providence Academy has a very impressive group of youngsters on their robotics team,” Jayson said. “We’re very excited to see how this year’s robot performs in competition.” Last year, Providence finished 7th out of 25 teams but won the FIRST® Engineering Award.

“Our team got right to work to replace the robot’s wooden prototypes with the finished laser-cut plates that Ajax produced,” said Providence Physics and Engineering Instructor Michael Plucinski. “The parts fit beautifully, and we had a successful test of the mechanism. We greatly appreciate all that Jayson and Ajax do for us here at the Academy.”

The Providence team will compete on March 3, 4 & 5 at the Entertainment and Convention Center in Duluth, Minnesota. Check back to get competition results!

Providence Academy Robotics Team Maintenance Bay

The maintenance bay for the Providence Academy robotics team, Power Amplified #4511, at the Entertainment and Convention Center in Duluth, MN on March 3, 4 & 5, 2022.

Competition Update

Providence Academy finished the competition with a record of four wins, five losses, and no ties.  While the final score did not live up to the team’s high hopes, the event went very well.  Most importantly, the team members gained valuable engineering knowledge and experience throughout the process of designing, building, and operating the robot.

View the competition video here: https://youtu.be/7Bj86SpvVD8

Ajax congratulates team leader Michael Plucinski, the physics and engineering instructor at Providence, and the Providence team members who made this year’s competition so worthwhile.  Great job everyone!

Ajax At AHR 2022 In Las Vegas

Ajax At AHR 2022 In Las Vegas

Ajax At AHR

Ajax Sales Engineer Jayson Marcott and Ajax Vice President of Sales and Marketing Don Wellman welcomed dozens of booth visitors at the three-day AHR Expo in Las Vegas, which ended Wednesday, February 2, 2022. Thanks to all the HVACR folks who stopped by to learn about our company’s stamping and sheet metal fabrication capabilities and check out our latest array of fabricated and stamped metal parts. See you next year for AHR Expo 2023 in Atlanta!

The S.W.E.A.T. Pledge #1

The S.W.E.A.T. Pledge #1

Mike Rowe’s S.W.E.A.T. Pledge is born of Mike’s personal experiences with entrepreneurs and hardworking people across the country.

Here at Ajax, we’ve been sharing Mike’s stories with friends and colleagues. We understand the importance of the skilled trades, and we believe there’s a lot of truth to be found in each of Mike’s 12 S.W.E.A.T. Pledges.

If you are considering your career options, or if you are helping a young person navigate career choices, we encourage you to explore The S.W.E.A.T. Pledge. Here’s Pledge #1:

Metalforming Magazine Q&A With Kent Djubek

Metalforming Magazine Q&A With Kent Djubek

Metalforming Magazine asks Kent Djubek, president of Ajax Metal Forming Solutions, to share the insights gained from his 30-plus years in the metalforming business.

Djubek took the company’s reins from the Ajax family 4 years ago, having worked his way up through the ranks after starting there in 1990 working second shift “and with no prior experience running stamping presses,” he says. Now Ajax’s chief executive and with a significant ownership stake, Djubek has set a course for continued growth by spreading the company’s wings and commissioning—in early 2021—a new manufacturing facility in Raleigh, NC.

At the same time, the company, which performs progressive and deep-draw stamping, as well as sheet metal fabrication using press brakes, turret presses and laser-cutting machines, recently launched its Ajax Academy to help ensure a steady stream of skilled workers.

Metalforming Magazine Q: What’s the best management-related book, webinar or event you’ve recently enjoyed, and what were one or two of the key takeaways?

Djubek: Earlier this year we tied up our conference room for three days to broadcast the Dave Ramsey EntreLeadership Master Series training workshop. Most of our management team, around 12 people, attended some or all of the program. One of the standout speakers, for me, was Jocko Willink, whose book (“Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win, Dichotomy of Leadership”) my plant manager and I both purchased after hearing him speak.

Willink really reminded all of us here that, even with the best planning things can unravel, so it’s important to plan for potential pitfalls and then learn from any our mistakes so we don’t repeat them. And, personally, I appreciate his perspective on where to place the blame when things do go wrong.

That is, when something goes wrong it’s likely due to lack of leadership rather than someone else’s shortcomings. As a leader, if you don’t set the right parameters in terms of expectations, the results likely will be less than expected.

Metalforming Magazine Q: What is the biggest challenge you face as a company leader?

Djubek: We continue to be challenged by the shortage of skilled workers, but we’re making inroads here by first striving to hire the right people—with the right attitude—and then investing in training, via our Ajax Academy. Years ago, hiring was done at a high level, but we discovered that I may not always be the right person to be hiring people that I’m not working with day in and day out.

So, now our leads and managers do all of the interviewing, and as part of that process they walk through the plant and try to get a feel for the attitudes of applicants and gauge whether or not they would be good fits for the Ajax culture.

When it comes to operator training and solving the skills shortage, Erick Ajax (former vice president, now retired and serving on the company’s board of directors) did a great job developing close relationships with the community colleges and trade schools. Building on that, recently we launched our Ajax Academy, partnering with a local technical college and then adding some of the virtual learning options through PMA’s METALFORM EDU program, as well as plenty of hands-on learning on the shop floor.

Metalforming Magazine Q: What are two or three of the most important things you look for in a mid-level manager?

Djubek: As noted earlier, it all starts with attitude, and drive. Most of our management team has been promoted from within, and here we look for self-starters—those team members who have been commended by their managers and are looking for opportunities to grow with Ajax. I look for people who want their plates filled, and over-filled, who will accept added responsibilities and push themselves. 

Metalforming Magazine: Kent Djubek and Don Wellman

Ajax Vice President of Sales Don Wellman (L) and Ajax President Kent Djubek on the plant floor.