Advancements in robotics are about doing more with less, and about mimicking human arm movement to maximize efficiency.
In many cases, robot makers can make their products do more than human arms ever could, from lifting more, to working faster, to never tiring.
Robot manufacturers tend to focus on arms.
At SAS Automation LLC (Booth S976), the work is all about hands. And like their arm-making brethren, SAS is turning out some game-changing technologies.
The Xenia, Ohio-based manufacturer of end-of-arm tooling for both linear-axis and rotary-axis robots is finding ways to take already-efficient robotic systems to another level.
SAS can essentially add another axis by installing a rotating tool to the ``wrist'' of the robot. SAS builds and sells virtually any kind of robotic hand a robot manufacturer or processor needs. And if it doesn't exist, SAS will build it. About 25 percent of the company's business is custom work, said SAS President Trent Fisher in a June 20 interview at NPE.
The company launched a first-of-its-kind programmable end-of-arm tool at NPE - a tool that can expand or contract its gripper system automatically to deal with multiple-sized parts. The unit can be programmed to relocate four separate component holders within the robot's cycle, and all on the same tool. Each holder can be used for vacuum cups or grippers.
The company also launched a tri-finger robotic gripper designed to pick up spherical products. The gripper was on display at the company's NPE booth picking up and moving a basketball.
Fisher said the company's products fit any type, or brand, of robot.
The industry is taking notice.
SAS Automation sales are increasing about 25 percent each year, Fisher said. The company this year added 5,000 square feet of manufacturing space, bringing its totally footprint to 14,000 square feet in Xenia. Despite making a low-volume, highly engineered product, the extra space won't be sufficient for long, Fisher said. Further expansion will be forthcoming.
The 10-year-old company opened an office in Germany in 2001 and has a growing sales presence in Asia. SAS employs about 25.
And the company will continue to grow as long as it continues to innovate and bring a value-added mentality to the table, Fisher said.
``Making robots do the most that they can,'' he said. ``That's what we do.''