Stäubli Corp. is getting ready to open its fourth North American location, this one in the Detroit suburb of Novi, Mich.
The 5,000-square-foot site will offer sales, service and engineering with six office employees and five sales team members.
"Our automotive customers have requested that we have local inventory and service as well as sales services," North American CEO Roger Varin said at NPE2018.
The new facility, which has options to grow, is scheduled to open in June, he added.
The company is part of Pfaffion, Switzerland-based Stäubli Group, which was founded in 1892 to build machinery for the weaving industry. Over the years, the business expanded into quick-release couplings and robots for about 20 industrial sectors, including the plastics industry, which is among its top three markets.
With a focus on increasing industrial productivity for customers through integration of mechatronics, Stäubli's global sales have been on the upswing in recent years, growing to $1.25 billion in 2017 from about $1.1 billion in 2016.
The group has 4,500 employees in 25 countries with other North American sites, including the headquarters in Duncan, S.C., and facilities in Windsor, Calif., and Querétaro, Mexico.
"We have new facilities and expanded facilities all over the globe," said Phil Briggs, fluids connection division manager for Stäubli North America, noting the company moved its site in Mexico last year.
At NPE, Stäubli configured products it launched in recent years into what it calls a revolutionary work cell that is capable of 60-second mold changes. The cell features robotics, sensors, magnetic clamping and rapid connection devices.
"It shows how Stäubli can be incorporated with different products into what Industry 4.0 represents," Briggs said. "I think it would be hard to find anyone else at the show that does so many different things around an injection molding machine."
Long before the phrase Industry 4.0 was coined in 2011 at a German trade show, Stäubli began developing integrated solutions to improve efficiency and quality for manufacturers, especially when it comes to quick mold changes.
"Mold changes represent lost revenue because that's time they're not producing anything," Briggs said. "A lot of our product is built around helping them overcome the distraction of the mold change time. Everything we do is designed to help them reduce the time of the mold change, error-proof the system and add safety to the process."
To speed up the steps in a tool-change process, Stäubli offers components for mold clamping systems, mold loading tables and carts, mold maintenance and mold preheating with quick-release coupling solutions for all energy circuits so molds are immediately operational. There are also robots for parts handling and insert loading.
The components eliminate the need for cranes and can be incorporated into production one at a time as building blocks to Industry 4.0. Stäubli says most components have a payback time of less than a year.
All the components communicate with one another, coordinating and relaying their status through sensors and systems that feed data into the process. After one has done its job, it signals for the next component to take over.
In one case, Stäubli says a customer in the auto industry that uses 40-ton molds reduced its mold change times from six hours to three minutes through automation.
The mold loading table in the demo cell has been "perfected" recently and is being used with 4,000-ton molding machines by one automotive manufacturer, Varin said.
"We always had the multicouplings where you can connect and disconnect quickly, and we've had the magnetic plates to hold the mold for a while," Varin said. "Now we've completed the whole cycle with these mold loading tables."
Staubli also says it has the fastest robot in the world in its TP80 and the safest robot in its TX2-60.
The TP80 can handle more than 200 picks a minute but is set for about 100 picks per minute at NPE2018 to reduce floor vibrations. Parts are picked up through suction and blown off instead of placed.
"That's why it can go faster. There's no wait to actually place it," said Harry Beaver, a robotics salesman for Stäubli.
The TX2-60 is a collaborative robot with sensors that create a safety zone. Stäubli says it is the only one on the market to achieve the highest safety integrity level (SIL) and performance level (PL) of SIL3/PLe.
"When you get closer, it slows down. Robots need fencing or guarding, but in the collaborative mode, if it's going slow enough, it can work with people to, say, hand something off," Beaver said.
Overall, Varin said: "What we're doing here is improving the productivity of a company, the quality of the company, and the safety of the company. By doing this, we give it more return on investment and profit and when you have more profit, you can get into new product lines and hire more people. It grows your business."