Officials at Jesco Injection Molding Inc. of Sandy, Utah, made their foray into automation about three years ago when they purchased a Wittmann Battenfeld robot from the exhibit space at NPE2018.
This purchase also marked the first U.S. sale of a Primus branded robot to Wittmann Battenfeld of Torrington, Connecticut.
More than 2.5 million cycles later, the Primus 14 worked without any malfunctions, according to Jesco Vice President James Schoudel. He credits the Primus robot with the improvement of the injection molding operation and the working conditions for the employees.
Founded in 1974 as a tool and mold maker by Schoudel’s father Jim Schoudel Sr., Jesco expanded into injection molding for a variety of markets including dental equipment, sporting goods, pool and spa parts and industrial supplies.
With 10 employees who produce more than 250 types of parts on 11 injection molding machines for 70 customers, annual sales of around 3 million US dollars are generated.
The integration of the Primus robot enabled Jesco to increase throughput on a dental device, improve accuracy and redirect employees to higher-paying projects, James Schoudel said in a press release.
“We quickly saw that we could achieve better and more accurate parts production thanks to the robot,” said Schoudel. “This enabled us to make more money available to our employees, as they were free for other things.”
Like many companies, Jesco is struggling to fill vacancies, and this challenge led corporate officials to consider automation in the first place.
Jesco employees worked with Wittmann to develop the best way to integrate the robot into the mold cell for dental equipment, Schoudel said, leaving in a bespoke end-of-arm tool (EOAT) from Richard Savage, owner of Savage Automation Centerville, Utah, develop.
“By adding a cavity separation station and a cycle counting program, we were able to produce and package the parts more consistently,” said Schoudel.
Since its market launch at NPE2018, the Primus has remained Wittmann Battenfeld’s most cost-efficient robot for pick-and-place applications, according to Jason Long, national sales manager for robots and automation at Wittmann Battenfeld.
“It’s safe to say that the Primus has exceeded all Jesco expectations with over 2.5 million cycles and counts,” Long said in the press release.
Schoudel said he did not consider the Primus to be an “economy” robot.
“The ‘teach’ program is very easy to use and enables us to write programs in just a few steps, and Wittmann is always there for us to answer any questions,” he said.
Since investing in 2018, Jesco has bought a second Primus and added a more advanced W818 robot to reduce the amount of operator handling of the parts.
“Touching by hand always adds a variable to the workpiece run,” said Schoudel. “We’re looking for a broader automation package to ensure our customers get the highest quality products they deserve.”
Andrew Rajkovich, owner of Ponderosa Plastics Equipment LLC and Wittmann Battenfeld sales rep for Jesco, said the company risked an automation that worked well for them.
“They are confident now that they have seen the results and that robotics and automation can help them improve their operations,” he said.
Jesco’s website states it has 11 injection molding machines ranging in size from 55 to 720 tons with shot sizes up to 6 pounds. A sister company, PMI Mold Making, builds and maintains injection molds.
Wittmann Battenfeld, based in Vienna, manufactures robot automation, injection molding machines and auxiliary equipment.