Darex, a manufacturer of drill and knife sharpeners, runs fast-paced production lines with many repetitive and ergonomically unfriendly tasks. The company has implemented Universal Robots in screw-driving and box-erecting applications, quickly scaling the initial install into a full-blown automation line with multiple work stations programmed through the Universal Robots interface. The entire system is developed in-house.
Darex, a fourth-generation, family-owned company based in Ashland, Oregon, needed to add more products to its lines without hiring more people. “Basically, I need to do more with the same amount of resources,” says John Griffin, director of operations at Darex, explaining that the Ashland area is experiencing a shortage of available workers. Darex also needed asolution that wouldn’t need a new dedicated space. “We have a small production area, so I wanted something that wouldn’t require a separate cell but would fit right into our assembly line,” says Griffin, who was looking to automate the company’s screw driving application assembling the plastic housing of the knife sharpener along with the station where boxes are erected and packed with product cartons. For erecting boxes, the company considered using box constructors. “But they were limited in what they would do and only work on a certain range of boxes. We wanted more flexibility,” says Griffin.