Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mig Welding - Robotics

Midland Metal Products continues to utilize automation to drive higher quality, greater throughput, and lower cycle times. In the mig welding area of the shop, robotics is changing the way we approach welding challenges. We are using virtual models such as those created in Solidworks as a reference to create both our welding fixtures and machine programs. See the results yourself.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Engineering Toolkit

Time is a precious commodity in the POP industry and there is never enough of it. There is increasing pressure to rapidly transform concepts into prototypes and then, prototypes into production. A costly way to accelerate results is to devote more resources. A better method is to identify and eliminate all waste in the process, such as redundant tasks. POP engineers invest time and energy creating the specifications for a project using CAD tools such as SolidWorks. If their vendor base can work seamlessly with the model to drive their production great efficiencies can be gained. If the vendor is unable to use these tools or the engineer does not create the models properly so the information can be used by the vendor, great inefficiencies are created. It is imperative for the POP engineer and the vendor to work together to divide the work appropriately and to avoid any redundancy or rework in the process.

In 2010, Midland Metal Products completed over 1,800 separate prototypes. We have witnessed a large variation in the usability of the information provided. Often, the information must be edited or recreated before it can be utilized. We have compiled a short list describing these common occurrences. Through education, we hope to minimize the occurrence so that we can accelerate the cycle time and lower the cost of the development effort.

1. METRIC CONVERSION – Files arrive in metric instead of inches. Since our machinery requires inches in order to produce parts, all the files must be translated from metric to inches. Time consuming and unnecessary.

2. BEND SETTINGS – SolidWorks gives users the capability to transform their formed parts into flattened parts with the click of the button. Since most primary fabrication occurs in the flat, this is a useful tool. If the program settings are correct, the translation can be highly accurate. If the settings are wrong, the information is almost useless. As a guide, we have provided a screen shot of common settings that will work in over 95% of the cases.

*Double click on images to enlarge.

3. SHEET METAL PARTS – SolidWorks allows users to transform parts into sheet metal components. If they are sheet metal components, the flatten function can be used. If the parts are drawn as extrusions – there is no function available to flatten the parts for fabrication. If engineers are able to flatten their parts, they are drawn correctly for use in a metal fabrication shop.

4. ASSEMBLY – Multiple components often come together to make an assembly. The most useful models are drawn first as individual components and then mated together to make an assembly. There are times when users will take a shortcut and draw multiple individual components in one large part file, rather than drawing components as parts and mating them in an assembly file. When this path is chosen, it is difficult to pull out information regarding one of the components for fabrication, making the model almost useless. In those cases, the model must be redrawn using the previous model as a guide. It is a large waste of time.

5. HOLE DIAMETER – Fasteners such as PEM nuts, weld nuts, and PEM studs are often included in the models. These fasteners require exact hole diameters for proper installation. We have provided guides on our blog that specify the hole size required in almost every application, including pop and semi-circular rivits . If these guidelines are not followed, the model must be reviewed hole by hole and requisite changes need to be made.

Tighter integration between the POP engineer and the vendor base can pay large dividends in terms of quality, cost, and time. Hopefully, these few pointers will start a broader discussion of how companies in the industry can form relationships in order to satisfy the increasing demands of the industry.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Did You Know?

That Midland offers full packing and assembly service? Many customers have already taken advantage of this service to move their finished displays to market in the most cost efficient way.

By using one centralized facility to engineer, manufacture, assemble, and pack their displays our customers turn a variable cost into a known, fixed cost. Utilizing Midland as a centralized location to receive and accurately document customer support material (i.e. vac-form wood, printed matter, cartons, etc.) while shipping to all parts of the country from Chicago has made sense to many of our customers who want to increase efficiency and control costs.

Completing the assembly and packing in the same facility where the metal parts were produced streamlines the entire project. Fit and finish issues can be dealt with at the source, without costly down time and return freight issues. In many cases it is actually more expensive to ship large and irregularly shaped metal sub-assemblies bulk to our customers for final assembly - so simply taking advantage of the packing and assembly department at our plant saves our customers both time and money.

We want all of our customers to know they can benefit from our 50 years of experience with packing and assembly. This, in addition to Midland having developed an outstanding leadership and supervisory staff over recent years, has enabled us to provide increasingly higher levels of sophistication in the assembly services we offer.

Our Supply Chain Management connects us with our customers, vendors, our customer’s vendors, and their logistics companies. We insure that product flow is consistent with no down time; coupled with our setting, reviewing, and continuously monitoring our high quality standards enables us to satisfy delivery requirements as outlined by our customers.

• Years of experience working with various freight companies that handle full trailer load (TL), less than trailer load (LTL), and small package shipments (UPS and Federal Express)
• Mass distribution of product; drop shipped to multiple locations
• Coordinating outbound shipments with customer and third party freight companies to meet customer delivery schedules
• Generating detailed tracking reports
• Coordinating inbound materials to meet packing / shipping schedule
• Inventory control of customer supplied items
• Reporting customer supplied material usage (including issues such as shortages, and substandard materials) to customers

• Combining manufactured metal with supplied materials (i.e. wood, plastic, graphics, corrugated, etc.) to complete displays
• Assembling sub-components as well as entire displays "ready to use" once delivered to your end destination
• Flexible conveyor lines, manageable space, and trained personnel bring a project full circle to insure total customer satisfaction

The Samsung Home Security project, designed by Rand Display, is one of the most recent examples of our service:

The whole unit was plug and play (ready to go straight out of the box) upon arrival at the retailer. All electronic components (400 monitors, 400 recorders, and 3,200 cameras) were stored in a high security cage with zero shrinkage. The whole job was produced, assembled, and shipped within four weeks and, due to central distribution, at their destinations within 2-3 days without a single complaint from the receiving retailers.

This is just one example. We have also recently done an operational testing unit for 3-D glasses as well as numerous flat screen television displays, with their interactive promotional playback equipment already installed and tested.

Inventory control, daily receiving reports for customer inbound promotional material and electronic equipment is part of our daily routine. Just thought you would like to know!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summer Shut Down