Eighth grade students come to Tuff to learn about careers in material handling by Erica Bacon


Every year in May, we invited the eighth grade class at the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic School to visit Tuff Automation to learn about the careers one can hold in an establishment like ours. Students come through our doors, clipboards in hand, ready to take notes, and we hope that they walk back out of them with a new understanding of material handling and a budding interest in the science and math behind it. We started the day by introducing Tuff Automation and briefly explaining what material handling is. Then we showed a video that compiled footage of machinery we've made here at Tuff, so students could see some of our products in motion. Once that was finished, we began a tour of the facility.

eighth grade students assumption catholic

The students learned all about the occupations of mechanical engineers, controls engineers, shop managers, welders, builders, and technical writers. They got to see some projects in progress, and learn all about the steps that go into taking a machine from paper to product. Perhaps the coolest thing the students got to see was the laser cutter, shear press, and brake press in motion. They were intrigued about how the laser cutter made such precise movements, and the sheer amount of weight the brake press wields to effortlessly bend steel into perfect angles.

laser cutter demonstration tuff automation

After we finished the tour of our facility, we walked the students across the street to our neighbors at Savant Automation, where they received a comprehensive presentation of the company’s history and product line. Students got to see Automatic Guided Vehicles (AGV’s) as they looked in the ‘50s and even got to see some modern ones zipping around Savant’s shop floor. They learned about the different applications of AGV’s and toyed with the sensors of the ones on the floor to see them stop and go again.

savant automation agv automatic guided vehicle

When the students had to leave to go to the next destination on their career exploration field trip, we hope they walked away from Tuff and Savant feeling the way many of us do at the end of a day at work: like we’ve just been in an episode of “How It’s Made” on the Discovery Channel. We hope that this feeling engendered in them an eagerness to learn more about the truly grandiose processes behind the products they interact with on a daily basis. We hope that they know that they can get a cool job without a college education, if that’s what suits them.

Most of all, we hope that they allow their experiences at Tuff and Savant to shape their aspirations for the future.

Photos by Elisabeth Sochacki

A more durable alternative to scissor lifts. by Erica Bacon

High-cycle lift processes don’t have to mean short equipment lifespans. Pneumatic lifts are a long-lasting, cost-effective alternative to scissor lifts, and they’re a perfect high-cycle solution.

More powerful than a scissor lift

Ordinary scissor lifts are rated for a lifetime of approximately 200,000 cycles. The vertically mounted cylinders on our pneumatic lifts make possible a lifetime of several million cycles. If your application exceeds a cycle time of 45 cycles per hour or 500 cycles per day, you’ll see the return on investment on a pneumatic lift in no time.

Robust, custom design from Tuff

Tuff’s pneumatic lift design is simple. It’s a direct lift design that significantly reduces side loading forces. They are easier to precisely position than a scissor lift—which makes them an excellent fit for automatic loading or unloading applications. Our lifts require minimal maintenance and are made in Grand Rapids, Michigan with off-the-shelf components, so replacing parts is quick and inexpensive. Tuff lifts are typically designed to handle between 500 and 3,000 pounds, and we have the capacity to customize lifts to handle heavier weights. We also offer a model that is powered by an electric motor to facilitate longer strokes, multiple precise positions, and specific applications.

Made to fit your application

Don’t settle for mediocre equipment when your process warrants something more. If you have an application that you think would benefit from using a pneumatic lift, Tuff Automation can build one to suit your needs exactly.

At the last minute, Cisco-Eagle finds quick, reliable service to finish off their multi-million dollar project by Erica Bacon

Material handling equipment provider Cisco-Eagle was in the final stages of installing a massive addition to their original equipment for Cargill Meat Solutions, a leading meat processing facility located in Friona, TX, when they realized they needed a blade stop at the last minute. Their deadline was approaching; Cisco-Eagle knew they needed quality equipment and needed it quickly. Pressed for time, Cisco-Eagle needed to be efficient in as many ways as possible. Production, delivery, and integration with the existing Hytrol equipment all had to move quickly. Knowing Hytrol has a tendency for longer lead times, Cisco-Eagle’s Director of Project Management Darrell Griffin contacted Tuff Automation’s sales engineer, Mark Zauel.

“Mark said he could provide equipment in a week, and it would hook up to the existing Hytrol equipment, which would save us considerable time in the field trying to make it fit,” said Griffin.

Tuff Automation Blade Stop
Tuff Automation Blade Stop

This wasn’t the first time Griffin worked with Tuff Automation, so he was confident in his decision to use Tuff Automation. Cisco-Eagle began working with Tuff when they were quoting another integration partner on a different project. While they looked through the pictures the integration partner provided with the quote, they noticed Tuff Automation stickers on some of the equipment in the photographs. After scrutinizing the photographs and hunting down Tuff Automation, Cisco-Eagle was ultimately won over by Tuff’s lower prices and completely custom solutions.

“Tuff doesn’t sell canned solutions,” said Griffin. “Everything is engineered to some extent—everything [Tuff] provides is rated to handle the load of the application.”

That initial impression was followed by years of solutions completely customized to fit their applications, which continually proved Tuff’s reliably fast turnaround and durable product construction. These experiences informed Griffin’s decision to go with Tuff for the blade stop solution.

“We have a lot of faith in [Tuff],” said Griffin.

Tuff Automation delivered the blade stop to Cargill Meat Solutions within a week’s time. The equipment integrated easily with the existing Hytrol conveyors and was durable enough for 110-pound cases of beef it needed to handle.

Quick turnaround, affordable prices, and reliable equipment are of paramount importance for those in the material handling industry, especially at the last minute. For Cisco-Eagle, Tuff Automation was able to provide all of the above, leaving all parties satisfied.