Sertek is a manufacturer of commercial kitchen equipment for major fast food chains, and a part of the multi-billion dollar industrial manufacturing conglomerate, Franke Holding AG.
Feeding sheet metal into Fladder 300/GYRO deburring solution
Sertek manufactures commercial refrigerators, freezers, fryers, and other heavy kitchen equipment for McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Chipotle. They have heavy seasonal demand and their customers are price sensitive yet expect high quality. During their Q4 “peak season” Sertek must hire temporary and seasonal workers to scale up production. However, it is very challenging to hire workers during this period since Sertek is competing with Amazon, Target, and Walmart to hire from the same pool of available workers. The effort to hire, manage and pay high wages drives up Sertek’s costs and reduces margins. But it’s not just a cost issue, it’s challenging to meet surges in demand because of the hiring and training time needed to react quickly
Since hiring seasonal workers no longer met the needs of the business, Sertek sought a solution that would enable them to increase their production capacity by leveraging their full-time staff. The ideal solution would increase their production flexibility, allow them to rapidly scale production to meet demand spikes, and also support their high changeover rate – which is often hourly.
They identified a task to pilot an automation project, feeding pieces of sheet metal into their Fladder machine. During normal production, this machine didn’t require a dedicated worker, but during peak production season a temporary worker was needed. Sertek chose to automate this task with a Forge-powered automation package including a Universal Robots UR-10 arm fitted with a pneumatic gripper, mounted to a mobile stand, and powered by a Forge/Ctrl running Forge OS.
Despite very limited robotic programming experience they were able to program their robot in three days of “programming in their spare time” while still managing their day-to-day production. Using this first job as a template, the team quickly programmed a number of other jobs, to accommodate different part form factors and batch sizes, each in less than five minutes. Even more critical to their business, they found that they could change over between jobs in about sixty seconds, which helped them maximize production time in their extremely high-mix, low-volume operation.
By automating with Forge OS, Sertek was able to reduce their dependence on seasonal labor by increasing the capacity and productivity of their full-time employees. They are also able to stabilize costs during peak production periods, with greater flexibility to rapidly scale up production as needed.