Inspection and Sequencing Line for Wheel Assemblies by Erica Bacon

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Recently Tuff Automation designed, built, and installed a conveyor system to transport vehicle sets of wheel assemblies through a final inspection sequencing line.  Besides the conveyor to transport the wheels through the inspection stations, Tuff also provided a de-stacker, escapement, and stacker, as well as the integration and interface with the test and inspection stations on this line.

The assemblies are placed in stacks of 4 to this line, then index to an escapement that releases one stack at a time to the de-stacker, where the assemblies are separated and released one assembly at a time to the test and inspection stations.  After these stations, the assemblies are re-stacked into the stack of 4, then released for transfer to the shipping area. 

With our full range of in-house services and experience, Tuff Automation met all of the project requirements, including mechanical design, fabrication and assembly, electrical design, panel build, and wiring. We also provided the controls engineering and programming required for the integration and data handling of all of the inspection and test stations on this line. 

After the project was successfully installed and in production, Tuff Automation provided the necessary on-site follow-up support, and has also provided remote support through VPN access.

Watch this system in action:

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Custom Shuttle Carts by Tuff Automation by Erica Bacon

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Our customer needed an effective way to transport 25 bins to be filled and emptied. Tuff engineers worked with the client to come up with an approach that was durable, cost-effective and efficient. The shuttle cart system was the perfect answer. If a cart system was not used, the customer would need to utilize many conveyors and transfers to accomplish the task at hand. The shuttle cart provides a simple, solution that saved money on costly equipment.

The Tuff shuttle cart is very versatile. It allows for multiple carts to be placed on the same track. If our customer’s needs change in the future, the shuttle carts can be easily modified to meet their requirements. A third vertical axis can be attached to the current system so that the carts can access products that are stacked up high. Rather than building new machines as their needs change, this flexibility ensures that the Tuff product will be used for years to come.

Many times, facilities have multiple systems made by different vendors. Typically, each supplier has a different control platform and different software set. This results in “islands of automation” which can be a roadblock to consistency across the plant. In order to solve this problem, Tuff used the same software as the other systems in the plant. This allows our carts to be easily integrated into their current set up, as well as reduces the need for training on new software.

The shuttle carts utilize the Rockwell Automation integrated motion functionality.  This cutting-edge technology is where the industry is headed. With the use of this technology, we can be sure that the shuttle carts will not be obsolete in a few years. In addition to being flexible, it is easy to make changes within the system. Trouble-shooting problems is less time-intensive and simpler than the alternative.

Tuff equipment is built to last. Our client can rest assured that they are getting the highest quality equipment for their investment. Tuff Automation only uses the best components when building our machines. Each part is carefully chosen based on sustainability so that our machines hold up to the rigors of constant use. Tuff Automation also stands behind their machines with excellent customer service. Interested in finding out how Tuff can help your company? Contact us for a quote. We would be happy to help.

Watch the shuttle cart in action below:

Custom Carts by Tuff Automation by Erica Bacon

Tuff Automation has designed, built, and integrated many types of material handling carts for a variety of customers, for use with AGV’s and operator-driven tow vehicles, in a wide range of production, warehousing, and ASRS (automated storage and retrieval) applications. Designed for moving products on an assembly line or transporting goods throughout a plant or warehouse, Tuff Automation has the experience needed to build carts that will meet customer’s specific application requirements.   The type of cart that you choose depends on the weight, size, and shape of the load as well as plant configuration.  Some examples of the type of carts we have designed and built include AGV & tugger tow carts, hydraulic lift carts, and carts with automatic transfers.  Carts can be provided with quad steer design to provide positive tracking and trailing with precision steering to follow the exact path of the tow vehicle.

Tuff Automation can provide carts to any specifications, and also provide the other equipment required for AGV and tugger applications, such as custom fixtures for the tow vehicles, and custom guide fixtures and docking stations.  On a recent project, in addition to supplying the custom carts, Tuff Automation also provided a custom guide fixture so that when the cart is guided into position, the fixture on the cart automatically locks into the station, connecting power to the cart in order to operate the lift/transfer on the cart.

Carts offer a cost-effective alternative to fork lifts. They require less manpower than traditional fork lifts because they are able to carry a higher volume load in less trips. Loads of different shapes and sizes are easily moved with a cart system making it a flexible transportation option for changing production methods and products. Using a tugger/cart system is also safer than a fork lift because the driver has better visibility, resulting in less accidents.

Tuff Automation’s carts are custom designed for each application. Tuff also integrates the controls system required for any application. Our superior designs, heavy-duty fabrication, and quality components guarantee dependability. If you are interested in having us provide a quote for your cart requirements, or would like to discuss any other solutions for material handling, we would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you. Contact us for more information.

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Tough Problems, Tuff Solutions by Erica Bacon

When our client came to us they had a big problem to solve. They wanted to get several different parts to one location, in a specific sequence, while maintaining a timely workflow. Before coming to Tuff, they would have had to use a series of five over and unders to move their parts. Over and unders are useful in some situations but five of them would be cumbersome, not to mention expensive.

Tuff engineers designed one system of conveyors that work together to bring the correct parts to the operator. These parts are delivered in two separate dunnage containers (one for the right and one for the left). Once the parts are retrieved, the bins are directed back to their original place. Then the operator can choose the next parts to be delivered.

The system is also designed to store information so the machine would remember six steps ahead what would be needed next. This makes for a consistent workflow with very little down-time. The Tuff solution also saves time since the parts are all brought to one location. If the client had used any other method, their employees would have had to walk back and forth to retrieve the parts. This also causes less physical strain on the workers.

Do you have a material handling problem? Tuff Automation can save your company time and money too. Contact us today for a quote. You won’t be disappointed!


Tuff Automation is Expanding! by Erica Bacon

Tuff Automation has been providing custom material handling services since 1993. We are unique in that we custom build each order to meet our customer’s exact specifications. Our distinctive products cannot be found in a catalog. We are known for our quick turn-around times and lower prices. Over the last several years, we have been growing exponentially. Our sales have increased by about 35% in the last 5 years, and we expect them to increase by another 40% by 2022!

With growth comes new challenges, such as space and staffing. Due to our growth we have been leasing a second facility. This has allowed us to continue providing quality products to our customers and reach our goals. Although this space has helped, having all of our operations in the same location is ideal. We are happy to announce that we have begun construction on an addition to our main location. The project is set to be completed by October 1, 2017. We are excited about this new addition and the benefits it will offer. Once the construction is finished, we will be able to assemble complete systems on site. The building will feature a 30 foot ceiling which will allow us to build tall lifts on site as well.

So, why has Tuff Automation had so much success? We contribute it to the people working for us. We have been blessed with many caring and talented employees that make sure our customers are satisfied. As we expand, we will look for more talented people to add to our team. This will allow us to continue to provide exemplary service to our clients. We are looking forward to the future as we continue to grow.

Do you have a question or want to know more about our services? Contact us via email at or by phone at 616-735-3939.

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