Accelerating Part Placement with the Iris Spatial Positioning System:
Weldall Manufacturing of Waukesha, Wisconsin, USA grew from humble beginnings in 1974 in a Quonset hut with five employees to its current location of 220,000 square feet with nearly 200 employees. Last year, the company won the state’s prestigious Manufacturer of the Year award.
“Before Iris, our inspectors used to spend a lot of time double and triple checking parts,” said Mike Schoen, operations manager for Weldall. Now, the company performs random checks but no full inspections. “Since we started using it, we haven’t had one location reject, we’ve improved efficiency between 20 and 60 percent, depending on the size and complexity of the part, and it’s been 100 percent accurate,” said Schoen.
Dave Bahl Sr., the founder of Weldall as well as its president and CEO, witnessed a demonstration of the Iris system at the Fabtech show in Las Vegas last November and had it installed by mid March. “Bottom line…when we tested it, it did what Virtek said it would and I knew that if we didn’t move fast, our competitors would.” The company purchased a second system in June.
Schoen says, “When I’m trying to explain to others how the Iris system works, I always go back to the scene in Star Wars when R2-D2 projected a laser image of Princess Leia. It’s that quick and easy.”
“Iris saved us thousands of dollars recently. We were working on a large part and, when we started assembling it, we knew something was wrong because the component parts looked to be in the wrong places. We knew it couldn’t be Iris so we investigated further and discovered that the steel had stretched during forming so it differed from the engineering CAD file. We were able to correct the issue quickly. But it’s something that could have cost us thousands of dollars in rework further downstream.”
“The support we’ve gotten from Virtek has been fantastic,” Schoen said. “They’re responsive, easy to work with and have reacted very quickly to our suggestions to improve the system. For example, we asked them to add cross hair points to the projected images so we could line up our studs. They have agreed to incorporate this in the next software upgrade.”
- Dramatically improves efficiencies. For Weldall, a part that took 6-7 hours to lay out now takes 1.5 hours. The company has improved efficiency between 20 and 60 percent, depending on the size and complexity of the part.
- Error proofs the assembly process by eliminating all manual measuring, marking and fitting steps.
- Detects errors early in the process. In one particular project, Weldall had steel that stretched during forming. Because of Iris, they were able to identify and correct the issue immediately, saving thousands of dollars in rework downstream.
- Eliminates need for inspection. Since installing Iris, Weldall performs random checks but has eliminated full inspections on those parts laid out with the system.
- Easy to use. Iris’ user interface requires no prior experience. Visual cues guide operators through each action and projected text indicators identify part numbers for accuracy.
- Processes are repeatable. Users program a job once and run it endlessly.
- Reduces labor costs. With Iris, the company employs a welder rather than an experienced fitter to place component parts.
- Is portable. Iris is so compact and portable that it’s easy to transport depending on where there is need.
- Eliminates need for laser etching to identify part placement location.