Posted: November 27, 2023
Do you have a complicated production process you want to automate but aren’t sure if it will do what you need? We can help you with that. JR Automation is all about creating custom solutions to solve your unique problems or challenges.
We have a dedicated team in our Advanced Applications department who are problem solvers at heart and will gladly go that extra mile to help find a solution to meet your needs. The Advanced App teams' mission is to support our sales and application engineering teams in working with customers to better manage risk and help prove methodologies by enabling more accurate proposals through concepts, feasibility studies, prototypes, proof of principles and technical support.
Check out a recent conversation with Scott Beute, our Director of Advanced Applications with over thirty years of experience in custom automation and volume manufacturing.
Q: If you had to explain to a customer what advanced apps is, how would you describe it?
SB: We are a small group within the company who primarily supports the North American business units of JR Automation by helping uncover and proving out solutions to some of the riskier parts of a project we’re working on.
Q: Why would a customer want to work with JR Automation in this area?
SB: We typically get involved if the customer is trying to automate something that hasn’t been done before. Or they might be interested in using a new type of technology that a business unit may not have a history with. By working with us, they can manage and reduce the risks involved with a project by having us test the concept on a smaller scale. This will help ensure the application will provide them the results they need before investing in the entire automated system.
One example from a few years ago was a customer who had received a contract to produce passenger train cars that required a lot of stamped steel panels to be spot welded together. Another company had built some large robotic welding fixtures for them, but the stamped parts weren’t dimensionally accurate, and they varied enough that a lot of the spot welds were missing the targets. We partnered with them to see if a 3D scanner would be capable of creating an image of the parts that could then be used to dynamically offset the spot weld paths in the robots to automatically compensate for the variation in the parts. They sent us some of the stampings so we could try out a scanner in the advanced apps lab to prove that it was feasible. Once we had done that, we provided them with a quote for what it would cost to build the fixtures needed to mount the scanners on their robots. Once we built them and verified that they would work, we were able to visit the customer’s facility to install the equipment and train the customer’s team on how to use it. In the end, the system proved to save them significant time and manual labor in their process.
Q: How does your team work with customers?
SB: We work indirectly with the customers through the sales and application engineering teams by doing some prototype work, feasibility studies, or process development and providing them with a report on the results. Sometimes we even have the customers come to work in the lab with us.
Smaller projects can often be funded by JR Automation as an investment in developing a good concept that will help our teams secure the work. But we can also quote R&D (research and development) work for customers if they're looking for something more extensive prior to placing an order for a full production-level system.
Q: Are there any areas or industries where Advanced Apps work the best or offer the most value?
SB: We’ve done a lot of material handling applications, assembly process work, vision-guided robotic applications, 3D bin picking trials, general machine vision applications, and many different types of process development.
We also have a lot of experience in metal welding and plastic joining (ultrasonic welding, hot plate welding, heat staking, etc.).
Because we have an experienced team, we can often build and test prototypes very quickly to keep projects moving.
We often help with trade show machines, recruiting events, sales support, and a variety of other activities, so we’re always open to people asking us for assistance. Even if for some reason we can’t help, we might know of someone else who can.
Ready to start a new automation project or want to know more about Advanced Apps? Contact us.