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Gary Michels is Manager, Applications Engineering | DESTACO The lives of manufacturers would be so much easier if all of their automation processes were homogeneous. Unfortunately, there are many that require customization in order to satisfy the unique requirements of an automated workholding or material-handling application. This is the case for any application that involves some combination of manual clamps, end effectors, grippers and indexers. At this point, it serves to acknowledge that there is a significant difference between a customized “product” and a customized “solution,” and we must warn that using the terms interchangeably is not correct or recommended. A customized product is a component that has been modified to fit the needs of a specific application. On the other hand, a customized solution takes components from different families of products – some of which may, indeed, have been customized – and pieces them together into a solution that satisfies the needs of the application. Differentiating between the two is similar to knowing that while all champagne is sparkling wine, not all sparkling wine is champagne. Our focus in this article is on the creation of customized automated workholding and material-handling solutions and the steps that must be completed from drawing board to final construction in order to ensure that the needs of the end user will be successfully and reliably met. COMMUNICATION IS KEY The process of creating a customized solution begins when the end user reaches out to the designer of the proposed solution. Most important is describing what will need to happen in the delivery process or, simply, what needs to be moved from Point A to Point B. Within that process, the designer also needs to know the weight, size and shape of the object that needs to be moved, as well as the […]
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