Issue Sept Oct14
The Ohio company designs, builds and services end-of-arm tooling for all makes and models of robots across North America, Europe, South America and Asia.
SAS Automation also supplies modular component-based end-of-arm tooling and gripper systems for a variety of manufacturing and distribution industries, including automotive, plastics, palletizing, food, and press tending.
The company began in Ohio and has since established sales offices in Germany and China. It also sells through distributors in the Czech Republic, Poland, England, Russia, and other European countries.
Its top market is plastic injection molding. “We design and build lightweight, component-based tooling for the extraction of plastic parts from molding machines,” says Rob Dalton, general manager. The company also provides equipment for the removal of excess plastic from the edge of parts and other industry-related equipment.
Nearly half of the company’s sales are composed of off-the-shelf end-of-arm tool components for integrators and end-users to build their own tools. These parts range from extruded aluminum tubing and brackets, to grippers, cutters and vacuum cups and are sold individually and in kit form, Dalton explains.
SAS Automation also provides a full line of palletizing tools used for handling bags, cartons, drums or sheet metal. This includes a wide variety of industries handling product such as bags of potatoes, mulch, rock salt or nearly any product in a carton. The equipment provides another valuable function. “It prevents a lot of injuries,” Dalton explains. “One robot can be used rather than several guys picking up heavy sheets of metal.”
SAS Automation’s equipment for the commercial baking industry requires greater precision. Tooling is used to lift baked goods out of their conveyor-based pans, index product configuration and then deposit product into moving shipping containers. For example, SAS Automation designed and manufactured this type of tool to de-pan 144 sizeable muffins every 12 seconds for a large Canadian customer.
SAS Automation’s business strategy focuses on increasing diversification. This adds more business besides plastic injection molding for automobile dashboards, steering wheels and window trim. This focus over the past five years has added strength in other sectors, as well.
“Business is very good,” Dalton says. “We have grown about $1 million per year since 2010 and we are looking to continue that growth.” SAS Automation’s strategy for continued growth includes adding more geographic and product markets to the mix, Dalton says. For example, the company is currently selling tooling well in South America. Its Shanghai office is another key growth metric with the demand for robotics in China surging along with its overall economy. “That is the biggest growth market for us,” Dalton says. “If you look at the market growth for robot installations, China is consistently earmarked as the fastest-growing market so we have set up a sales office and are distributing there.”
The company’s biggest challenge is creating name recognition abroad, so SAS partners with locals. Once SAS Automation has the opportunity to demonstrate its capabilities, “the product speaks for itself,” Dalton says.
SAS Automation launched a green initiative to do its part to help improve the economy. It is manufacturing its product to be even more environmentally friendly to reduce carbon footprints and conserve energy.
It has installed a 222-panel, 51.2kw solar array to its headquarters building, as well. “It has worked out very well,” Dalton says of the array. “It has taken only three-and-a-half years to recoup the investment and has reduced our electricity usage by one-third.”
Ram Mechanical Services Inc. of Carol Stream, Ill., is a SAS Automation client for robotic material handling cells that palletize cases and handle trays.
“It was important to seek out a partner who backs up their work,” said Glen Langstaff, chief operating officer and vice president for Ram Mechanical. “[SAS] took the time to understand the needs at the beginning of the process and were open to collaborating.”
Previously, Ram Mechanical developed and fabricated end-of-arm tooling in-house, but after more than a decade, it needed to lower its product cost to customers and improve reliability.
“The results have justified our decision to team up with SAS,” Langstaff explained in a statement. “SAS has been doing this for a long time, and that was part of what we were buying.
“We don’t have the same collective experience SAS does. We are able to control our risk while simultaneously lowering our cost and that is a very attractive business opportunity.”