Twenty years after making its first moving-coil electric actuator, SMAC Corp. has emerged as an industry leader in linear motor technology. The company manufactures a wide range of precision programmable actuators for high-production positioning, measuring, inspection and pick-and-place applications, particularly those that require 100 percent verification.
For the past several years, SMAC has grown at an annual rate of about 30 percent to become the largest manufacturer in the world of moving-coil actuators. Last fall, company managers considered two options to accommodate this growth: significantly expand its Carlsbad, CA, facility, or streamline production by implementing lean manufacturing practices. Extensive analysis, including consulting with distributor Nor-Cal Controls, showed the latter option to be more cost effective.
Implementing lean required the addition of several new pieces of equipment, including the 2200 series belt conveyor with five built-in mini work areas. Made by Dorner Manufacturing, the conveyor moves actuator subassemblies to the work areas, where workers add parts in sequence to complete the assembly.
“The conveyor gives us the ability to set the assembly pace and adjust it from one product line to another,” says John Miewald, marketing manager for SMAC. “If the process is more complicated, we slow it down. If it’s more simplified, we can speed it up. This [flexibility] is important to us.”
The conveyor is 20 feet long and 15 inches wide. It moves subassemblies at a rate of 0.3 to 3 fpm. According to Miewald, the conveyor has significantly increased production—enabling SMAC to grow from $2.5 million to $10 million in sales with the same work crew of four or five people.
Unlike traditional pneumatic and electric actuators, moving-coil units have a very light moving mass that allows for very quick acceleration and high velocity. These actuators are safe, quiet (less than 55 decibels) and energy efficient (typically operating at 1.5 amps with 24 VDC).
They also operate without air, eliminating the need for compressors and worry about force fluctuations, air consumption or leaks.
A low-profile design makes the 2200 Series belt conveyor ideal for lightweight industrial applications. It also comes with V-guided belting that eliminates tracking issues and T-slots for easy bolt-on of accessories. Each conveyor is built to custom specifications.
SMAC especially likes that the conveyor moves parts with precision at very low speeds. Miewald says the success of the initial assembly line will likely lead to four additional ones in the coming months.
He also notes that SMAC’s goal in the near future is to reach $20 million in sales. The growth plan requires the addition of several work areas to the conveyor for assembly of more product lines.
For more information on belt conveyors, call 262-367-7600 or visit www.dornerconveyors.com.