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Application Note: Improved Efficiency for Heat Curing Process

Cross Automation Increases Efficiency of Heat Curing Process by 60%

While working to raise efficiency by automating manual processes through their facilities, a manufacturer realized that their heat curing process was creating a bottleneck in their production. Cross Automation and the customer determined that this project was a great place to start due to the low risk and high potential for return. There was an opportunity for immediate added revenue because their product was in such high demand, the only thing limiting their current revenue was their production process

The Application

The current process involved curing parts in batches of eight. Parts were loaded into the oven and then the operator would have to wait around twenty minutes for them to cure and another ten for them to cool before being able remove the parts and load in the next batch. This was not a great use of the operator’s time and was not processing parts quickly enough. Using this process the customer was able to produce 32 pieces per hour. Their goal was to increase the throughput by 60%.

The Solution

Cross helped to redesign the heat curing process from a batch system to inline, continuous flow. This meant that operators could continuously load and unload parts so there was no downtime for the machine or the operators. By doing this the throughput of the machine was increased by 60%. In addition, they were able to eliminate two operators per line, further reducing the cost associated with the manufacture of their parts.

As part of the redesign process, the Cross team designed fixturing for their parts to help keep them in the proper position as they travel through the oven on the conveyor belt. The fixturing improved the quality of their end product by ensuring that each piece was cured for the exact same length of time in the same position without moving or shifting.

In addition to improving the process as requested by the customer, Cross’s design team was able to reduce the footprint of the machine. This allowed the customer to double the number of machines, thus further increasing their throughput.

Why Choose Cross

The customer decided to work with Cross for several reasons:

  • Cross was able to partner with the customer to identify the process that was acting as a bottleneck and thus have the biggest return on investment.
  • The customer needed to get on this project very quickly and Cross was able to provide a detailed proposal including: concept flow, CAD models, and layout within 2 weeks.
  • The concept Cross designed drastically decreased the footprint of the machine which led to them being able to double the number of production lines in the same amount of floor space.
  • Cross designed the control panel to include additional controls and drives that would allow for easy scalability and addition of future automation
  • The customer felt that because of the detail in the proposal and completeness of the concept, Cross minimized the risk to the customer.

Throughout the process, Cross’s team worked alongside the customer’s international team to meet their needs. This included rapid prototyping for validation and collaboration, as well as building a system that met CE standards and was CE certified.

Are you interested in learning more about how automating manual processes in your facility can improve efficiency while saving you money on labor costs? Contact us today to speak with one of our automation experts to learn more.

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