Capabilities Corner: Robotics & Automation
From the beginning, Rodon capitalized on its core manufacturing strengths including mold design, tool building and high-volume manufacturing. In order to compete, Rodon determined that the best way to win is by innovating and automating their processes. Rodon did this by investing in leading-edge technology, using raw materials from the world's premier suppliers and committing to the best equipment available.
Due to their technological advances, Rodon is able to make machine operators efficient enough to run 15 machines each, through automated delivery of the parts by use of robotics. Every machine has a robot on it, either a robotic picker or a full-blown servo-robot. Every machine counts the parts as they are made and when the box is full, an automated conveyor indexes the box out of the way and installs an empty box in its place. This occurs across all 106 machines without human intervention. Raw material is auto-loaded via Conair proportional vacuum loaders into each machine and color concentrate is then metered into the resin at a measured rate. The STAR Automation servo-robots can stack and orient the parts directly into the shipping cartons, as necessary, and some products are 100% inspected using a KEYENCE Vision Inspection system.
Rodon currently designs and builds their own custom end of arm tooling (EOAT's) in order to reduce labor costs. A lot of thought and intelligence is designed into each EOAT in an effort to stack and fill directly into the shipping container. Rodon is currently investigating a new generation of highly accurate color blending equipment to efficiently reduce color consumption, therefore costs. Through their recent energy initiative, new Variable Frequency Drive (VFD's) air compressors and VFD water cooling pumps are being investigated to effectively reduce plant wide energy use as well.
Rodon was recognized by PPL Electric Utilities Corporation for our energy efficient measures we have taken over the year and was awarded to the E-power Energy-Smart Business Honor Roll.
Employee Expert Q and A: Tony Hoffman, Facilities Manager
Q: What does your job as Facilities Manager at Rodon involve?
In this position, I am responsible for maintaining and overseeing building repairs/up-grades and building grounds, as well as purchasing new equipment, repairing/modifying existing equipment, water treatment, cooling towers, compressors and air dryers. I manage and work on all facets of Rodon's robotics, including the purchasing, scheduling of installations and designing/manufacturing end of arm tooling and work cells.
Q: How long have you been working at Rodon and what do you enjoy most about your job?
Coming up on 28 years! What I enjoy most about my job is getting to work on a variety of projects.
Q: Can you tell us about the types of robots on the machines and what their capabilities are?
Rodon has three types of robots at this time, including (3) axis robots, (5) axis robots and (7) axis robots. The robots are capable of many tasks, from something as simple as retrieving parts from the mold and delivering them above a box and releasing them to having movement capability very close to that of a human arm/hand placing them inside a box and stacking them.
Q: What are your biggest challenges in maintaining the facility on a day to day basis?
I think scheduling the larger projects is most challenging. We are a 24/7 operation. New projects (like the 3 cooling towers) and large repairs/upgrades can get a little tricky without interfering with production or in someone's work area.
Q: What makes our robots utilization unique compared to other companies?
We have a team of folks from departments throughout the company that work closely and have an open mind to new ideas. They don't cringe at the amount of work, time and money it takes to bring a robot project together. For example, sales may have a specific request based on a client's project. Our staff reviews the options and bases a purchase decision on the features and flexibility of each robot The vendor technicians, toolmakers and maintenance employees work together with sales and scheduling after the press and the robot have been selected. Then the box size, work station and end of arm tool come together, often with (like the coffee filter jobs) input from all. Even with so many involved people, it has been very successful and that is unique.
Q: Can you explain any ways the robots we use can help us expand?
We use robots for a few simple tasks. (1) To deliver parts clean, un-touched from the mold into the box; that's medical/Pharmaceutical work, (2) To deliver and stack parts in a container or bag; that's packaging, more packaging= expansion. (3) To run with minimal human interaction; Robots were created for "cheap labor". Every robot we get is not only safer for employees, but it frees them up for other duties, and allows for expansion with minimal increase to labor cost. Also, all of our robots were designed by Rodon and Star Automation with expansion in mind. Extra long beams for in-mold labeling and vision systems are also designed with down stream automation (various styles of packing) in mind.
Industries We Serve
We have helped our customers realize their design goals, and have also invariably come in ahead of schedule, on or better-than budget, and at a level of precision and quality unequaled to anywhere in the world. Here is a sampling of the various industries we serve:
Point of Purchase Displays
Windows/Door (Fenestration Industry)
See a sampling of customer parts we manufacture for customers around the world and learn more about our custom plastic injection molding capabilities.
The Rodon Group Blog
The Rodon Group is pleased to announce its blog at info.rodongroup.com. With new content every week, the Rodon Group strives to support the case for American Manufacturing by featuring articles on related topics including:
- Reshoring and onshoring
- Work force development
- Manufacturing costs
- Import/export issues
The blog will also highlight companies that are expanding or relocating their operations to the United States. Here are a few of our recent posts:
The Craze for all things "American-Made."
Can Manufacturing Be Fun?
The State of Manufacturing in Pennsylvania
We encourage visitors to comment, share and subscribe to the blog via email or RSS. Thank you!
U.S. Industrial Groups Partner for Training
Worker Shortage? Teach Teens Manufacturing Skills
Made in the USA: A 30 Day Journey
Local employees step up to the challenge
Made in America makes sense again, K'NEX Brands CEO says
Commitment to America Takes Center Stage As Manufacturing Sector Growth Continues Thomasnet.com
K'NEX expecting reborn Tinkertoy to charm tots, nostalgic parents
Rodon Founder Irv Glickman Turns 100
More recent Press/News at http://www.rodongroup.com/injection-molding-news.html