Plastic processing still accounts for about 85 percent of sales at SAS Automation Ltd., which makes end-of-arm tooling for robots, but the company demonstrated a growing diversity at a Feb. 10 open house in Xenia.
About 200 customers, suppliers and government officials attended the event. They saw a large six-axis Fanuc robot demonstrating palletizing by methodically stacking boxes onto a pallet - then lifting up the empty pallet, to boast its 220-pound payload. The articulating-arm robot, was installed in January.
SAS also ran a three-axis Remak, which is at the Xenia-based company on consignment. In a food packaging demonstration, the beam robot alternated picking up coffee cans, boxes of popcorn and round juice containers, all with the same tooling.
SAS focused entirely on EOAT for handling injection molded parts when it was founded in 1996. Having the large Fanuc robot allows SAS to test its tooling; up until now it has used a small stationary fixture.
``We are trying to bring the concept that we have, which is grab these light parts, to all parts,'' President Trent Fisher said at the open house.
In palletizing, for example, SAS designs EOAT that can pick up different-sized boxes, cans or tubs coming down a conveyor and place them on a pallet. The company also is making tooling for industrial robots that weld or stamp steel parts.
Fisher said the diversification move began about three years ago, but SAS has accelerated the strategy recently.
The open house also allowed SAS to show off last year's $500,000 expansion, which increased its building in Xenia from 5,000 square feet to 12,500 square feet. SAS added office and manufacturing space. The company also bought a new computer numerically controlled Hurco milling machine, which can cut 24 metal pieces at a time. As visitors walked by, the Hurco turned out clamps.
Fisher said that, because the 25-employee firm makes nearly all its own components in Xenia - and makes only EOAT - it can respond quickly to orders.
SAS machines components, fabricates frames from aluminum profiles, and makes its quick-change chuck system that attaches the modular tooling to the robot. SAS can build the tooling in Xenia, and it also ships complete kits so molders can build their own tooling. The firm will send its technicians to a customer's plant, to build the tooling on-site.
Fisher, who owns SAS, declined to give the company's sales.
SAS recently launched e-commerce sites for the United States and Europe. Fisher said the Web site shows prices for 1,150 parts.
Exports are important to SAS, which opened an office in Karlsruhe, Germany, in 2001. Last year, Ohio Gov. Bob Taft presented SAS with a 2004 Excellence in Exporting Award.