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Vestcom developed a prototype of a new product that its clients were eager to buy. Unfortunately, it didn’t have the required automation to produce it. We collaborated with Vestcom to develop an automation solution using a complex system incorporating components from some of our top vendors, including a FANUC delta robot, Rockwell Automation controls and SICK safety sensing devices. We quickly developed prototype tooling for proof of concept, and then designed, built and demonstrated the first work cell within four months.

Collision Avoidance

DETAILED CASE STUDY: MOVING A NEW PRODUCT TO MARKET

Retail moves fast, and reducing costs is always a priority. Vestcom helps retailers maximize the shelf edge as it serves more than 70 percent of retail food, drug and mass merchants in the U.S. It identified an opportunity to reduce labor costs for hanging shelf tags for weekly retail price change activities. The challenge was that Vestcom’s innovative new product could not be produced in volume without automating production facilities at sites strategically located throughout the U.S. Unfortunately, Vestcom had difficulty finding an automation solutions partner. That is, until it called us.

the-pointPROJECT DETAILS

Project duration: The first system was operating in six month, with dozens of systems installed over 15 months.

Team
Client: 2 engineers
Concept Systems: 3 engineers

Concept Systems’ time on site: 90 days

Pain points

  • Need to manufacture high volumes of new product across multiple locations.
  • Difficulty finding an automation partner who would agree to meet extreme deadlines while working in parallel with Vestcom’s product development team.
  • Integrate robot into existing production equipment.
  • Duplicate solution installed dozens of times in eight sites across the country.
  • Every machine had to run every product that Vestcom currently supplies and will supply in the future.

Results

  • Made it to market on time with a new high-value product.
  • Reduced labor costs for client’s customers, while increasing their margins.
  • Awarded five-year contract vs. standard one-year contract by major client.
  • Leveraged this new product and gained market share in its industry.
  • Quick changeover, and multiple changeovers per shift.

Technology used

  • FANUC M-2iA/6H robot.
  • Custom-engineered, high-speed vacuum pick head.
  • SICK barcode scanners and vision sensors.

SOLVE YOUR PRODUCTION PROBLEMS

Moving fast, very fast

Vestcom developed a prototype of a new product that its clients were eager to buy. Unfortunately, it didn’t have the required automation to produce it. We collaborated with Vestcom to develop an automation solution using a complex system incorporating components from some of our top vendors, including a FANUC delta robot, Rockwell Automation controls and SICK safety sensing devices. We quickly developed prototype tooling for proof of concept, and then designed, built and demonstrated the first work cell within four months. Installation was complete within six months.

Product and system development on parallel paths

The customer’s product development and our system development had to be completed in parallel on an extremely aggressive timeline. We installed 30 production-ready robotic systems across eight sites on time, and met the customer’s production requirements and quality expectations. Although some rework was required because of the fast pace, we were aware of this situation going into the project and managed it as part of the overall scope. Additionally, Vestcom adjusted some product requirements based on client feedback; these changes were incorporated into the work cells during the rollout.

Build in flexibility

Vestcom required each system to be flexible enough to handle all of its current and future products. Because of the large variation in products for a given run, the system needed to have the capacity to go through six tooling changes in a 10-hour shift. Each tooling changeover had to be completed in less than 15 minutes. In fact, our solution reduced tooling changeover to just a few minutes, exceeding customer expectations.

Flexibility provided by the new systems allowed Vestcom to run four new products during the build-and-install phase of the project without mechanical or programming rework.

Vestcom entrusted Concept to design, build and install custom robotic manufacturing systems for a brand new product. Concept’s design prowess, controls expertise and project management methodology quickly moved the project from idea to prototype validation to full rollout in less than 12 months. These efforts resulted in the nationwide installation of dozens of robotic cells across eight production facilities, enabling Vestcom to successfully provide our clients with an industry-leading new product.
– Scott Aten, Vestcom

Integrate robots into an existing line

Our automation solution had to fit into Vestcom’s existing production line. We designed a robot with a custom gripper to pick paper and stack it on outbound conveyors. We used a standard FANUC robot with a large gripper to move fast with a high payload. A high-speed interface uses a PLC to read a barcode, determine sheet position and pass the information onto the robot. The entire process is integrated into existing HMI to be useable and simple for its operators.

Customize for different stores

It’s rare that any job is the same. Now, each run can have a specific size, shape, layout and dimensions, and run at low or high volumes. Additionally, with extremely flexible production equipment, Vestcom can process one-off orders with just-in-time manufacturing.

Avoid costly errors

Vestcom provides custom-printed material with a one-to-five-day lead-time from order to delivery. Because the product is one-off and delivered in a highly specific sequence, any damaged product represents a significant cost in material and time. Using robots on the production line was a key to reliable production without introducing defects.

Rapid deployment

Thanks to robust controls and training materials, operators embraced the new robotic and vision technology, and were running full production after only a few small trial runs.

Higher Value Products

It’s rare that any job is the same. Now, each run can have a specific size, shape, layout and dimensions, and run at low or high volumes. Additionally, with extremely flexible production equipment, Vestcom can process on-off orders with just-in-time manufacturing.

We helped our client take an innovative, game-changing product to a niche market, and in the process provided tremendous value for its customers.