Success Stories

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 sales@tuffautomation.com or by phone at 616-735-3939.

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Our conveyors boost productivity by Erica Bacon

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Our goal as a material handling equipment manufacturer is to help our clients make their processes more efficient. How do you measure that? Well, the proof is in the numbers. An engineering company that designs and manufactures steel automotive parts, came to us for conveyor help. We built them some customized powered extendable conveyor and roller conveyors, which were installed in October.

Since installation, our client's Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), which calculates how a machine is expected to run versus how it actually does run, for their machinery has improved by 25 percent, reporting over 95 percent OEE in November.

Our customers were thrilled with the improvements, saying their operators don't spend nearly as much time fighting with the machinery.

Running two jobs used to take 3 hours, Process Engineer Seth Monroe said, now it only takes 1.5 hours. That's a 50 percent improvement.

Maintenance has also become easier. Replacing the belts on the extendable conveyors used to take two to three hours. Now it takes 30 minutes.

"It takes longer to get the belts out of the crib than it does to replace them," Monroe said.

That's the kind of news we like to hear.

Tuff Transfer Cart is an automated space saving solution by Erica Bacon

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Production facility floor space is sacred. The more organized and compact you are, the more efficient your production practices are.

Our customer wanted to crowd more conveyor into their existing space to optimize their production facility. Continuing to drive lift trucks through such a tightly packed space would increase the risk for damaged product and equipment. So our customer needed something to facilitate the movement of their product within this tight space while limiting the use of lift trucks. Tuff Automation worked together with Savant Automation to create a transfer cart that would solve their problems.

We constructed the transfer cart with heavy structural steel and laser-cut and formed components. It traveled along a rail embedded in the facility floor, which meant that lift trucks could still be driven in the same space as needed. The cart used an overhead power system, taking up the least amount of space necessary to move products from destination to destination.

The transfer cart had to carry five different products from their respective fill systems to one of two stations—a stretch wrapper or a conveyor that sent them straight to the warehouse. Check out our video of the system in motion:

The final product ended up being an excellent solution to the customer's needs, getting the job done without trying to squeeze lift trucks through tight spaces.

The transfer cart solution can be used and customized for a number of applications. Contact us to learn more about this system.

When old equipment just isn't cutting it anymore by Erica Bacon

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Even the best equipment doesn't last forever. Whether your process changes as your business grows, or you've simply used your equipment to the point of breaking down, eventually you're going to need an upgrade. Tuff Automation can help with that.

Engine manufacturer Cummins found themselves in need of just such an upgrade. Their 20-year-old equipment was no longer meeting the task of moving their product.

"[Our equipment] was never upgraded to handle a heavier product," said Cummins Mechanical Engineer Michael McLaughlin.

So they contacted Tuff, and we worked together over a long and changing schedule to design, build, and install brand new equipment

Our design

The sum of what we worked together to create included heavy-duty CDLR with 3.5" diameter rollers, drip pans, custom frames, and guiding. These were much better equipped to move the heavier goods. We also mounted some new CDLR on a lift table the customer provided. In addition to the CDLR, Tuff also built a walkway and railing around the conveyor, mounted spring-loaded steps on the sides of the conveyor, and replaced the sensors on their equipment.

A long and challenging installation schedule

Over the course of four weekends in February, Cummins and Tuff worked together around an extremely demanding production schedule to put the new equipment in place. Tuff Mechanical Engineer Tony Truong traveled to the Cummins facility in New York to work with a team to facilitate the installation.

"Working with Tony Truong was the best part about using Tuff," said McLaughlin. "Not only was he great on the engineering side, offering solutions to all of our requests, he was a one-man installation crew."

Flexibility is the key

Even when brevity is out of the question, efficiency is of utmost importance. Though the circumstances made for a difficult schedule and an ultimately longer project process, Tuff and Cummins both exercised flexibility to ensure a satisfactory product.

Building a Slat Conveyor by Erica Bacon

We frequently work with Bastian Solutions to engineer top-quality solutions to whatever they throw at us. One of our recent projects was a slat conveyor that carries hefty axles.

The project

The conveyor is part of an assembly line. It moves multiple axles, the heaviest of which can weigh 1600 pounds, down the line as operators gradually add components. This rugged conveyor is equipped to carry massively heavy loads in an industrial environment. It also comes with a touch screen interface to customize conveyor operation, track units through each production cell, and identify any conveyor faults.

What we did to ensure the best product

As with many of the projects we encounter, Bastian Solutions needed this solution to be of the highest quality and completed under a compressed timeline. During the processes of engineering and construction, we were able to assist Bastian Solutions in making performance-enhancing recommendations. We also facilitated a complete run-off/buy-off on our shop floor. All of this was to make sure Bastian Solutions knew we made them a product they could be confident in to do the work they needed it to do.

The final result

In the end, Bastian Solutions received a top-quality conveyor complete with integrated controls. Want a closer look at the process of construction and see the final product in motion? Check out our video below. Be sure to watch it in high quality!