Manufacturing Today - Winter 2012 - (Page 36)
SPECIAL SECTION Automate/ProMat 2013
Positech Corp. / www.positech.com / Headquarters: Laurens, Iowa / Employees: 62 / Specialty: Material handling manipulators and customized tooling Mike Olson, president: “We’re a little more conservative than most, to make sure that you’ve got the proper support and proper service.”
LEANING ON LEAN
quality, product service and employee longevity are positech’s keys to successfully manufacturing manipulators and tooling in a crowded marketplace. by russ gager
People who can set up a small shop to assemble material handling manipulators and tooling might consider themselves competitors to Positech Corp., but that is not the way President Mike Olson sees it. “We consider our strongest competitors to be about a dozen [companies], but if you look at people who sell material handling manipulators and tooling, they’re probably in the hundreds,” Olson calculates. “Anybody who can build this little piece of equipment in their garage gets to consider themselves qualified, but we don’t agree with that.” A certain amount of expertise is required, he maintains. “We build our products to meet certain standards and don’t always feel that is what we are competing against,” he asserts. Positech’s competitive advantages are numerous, such as its service group. “The fact that we supply service for all our products and are able to manufacture repair parts for machines all the way back to 1976 is a real big plus,” Olson declares. “Our machines and equipment are long-life machines – robust, by and large – and last a long time. “We have a full-service group that has the ability to travel to the location and do work onsite,” he adds. Positech also operates a free telephone hotline to aid customers. “They can call in and we’ll help and assist them as much as we can. Sometimes you have to be onsite to solve the problem. We pride ourselves on the fact that service is a very important part of our business.” 36
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positech uses a combination of automation and manual methods in its 60,000square-foot facility.
Positech matches the equipment with the customer’s needs. “Our objective is to help you acquire equipment that puts as little between the operator and the material being handled as possible,” Olson emphasizes. “You can quote a really sophisticated piece of equipment, but maybe it is more than you really need. So we are going to help you to make sure you get the right product and at the right cost-to-feature ratio. Our objective and our goal are to do it right. We’re a little more conservative than most, to make sure that you’ve got the proper support and proper service. In the end, you will have a piece of equipment that you are really happy with.”
Olson sees a trend toward smarter manipulators. Many of Positech’s products that use hydraulics and some using pneumatics are including programmable logic controllers to control the machine and tooling
while monitoring their position. “A trend we’re working on right now is along the lines of providing smarter machines that will have the ability to help you know where you’re supposed to be as an operator,” Olson explains. For example, a machine using a cross-torquing pattern to tighten bolts and nuts will be able to tell the operator the order in which the bolts should be torqued and confirm its position. Switches will disable certain features if an operator is working in the wrong zone, or it will not allow a conveyor to start until the operator is out of a zone with a product. In Positech’s 60,000-square-foot single facility – which includes the manufacturing plant, storage areas and offices – the company uses a combination of automation – including computer numerically controlled flame-cutting and programmed machining operations – and manual methods to produce its products.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Manufacturing Today - Winter 2012
Manufacturing Today - Winter 2012
Applied Energy Solutions
Carter Control Systems
Global Technology Systems
Tampa Tank Inc./Florida Structural Steel
Fullerton Tool Co. Inc.
Honda of South Carolina
Sapa Extrusions North America
ACE Controls Inc.
Vendors Exchange International Inc.
EXEL North America
Capewell Components Co.
U.S. Sugar Corp.
Industrial Magnetics Inc.
Lakeside Plastics Ltd.
Norpak Handling Ltd.
Mid-State Machine Products
TenCate Protective Fabrics
The Dupps Co.
Western Manufacturing Ltd.
Wisconsin Plastics Inc.
LaSalle Bristol LP
DAP Products Inc.
Honsa Ergonomic Technologies Inc.
Engineered Material Solutions LLC
Master Spas Inc.
U.S. Chemical & Plastics Inc.
Votaw Precision Technologies
Banker Steel Co.
Manufacturing Today - Winter 2012