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Hat’s off to Anthony Whitesell, a 15-year veteran and  Senior Project Engineer here at Superior Controls. It is not often that a customer recognizes the hard work and dedication of one of our engineers with an award for exceptional partnership and collaboration on such a major project! Two managers from Gentex Optics did exactly that during a visit to our Seabrook headquarters.

Senior Automation Engineering Manager, Amit Agarwal and Project Manager, Bret Foley, from Gentex Optics came to our office to present the results of a major, five-year, multiphase project to automate their manufacturing facility. As Superior Controls’ lead engineer on the project, Anthony was a key member of the software development team. Amit and Bret presented Anthony with a plaque for all his efforts and contributions (and a two-hour commute each way!) over the past five years. Anthony started in 2012 as a team member and eventually became the team lead on the last year of the project.

The project started five years ago when Gentex Optic’s continuous improvement program indicated the need for additional capacity in the finishing, inking, and packaging sections of their production line. Because the production line was entirely manual at the time, this meant adding additional staff, additional equipment, and possibly additional floor space. Therefore, they decided to begin automating the production line.

In 2012, the first phase began with automating the finishing area. The inking area was automated in 2014 and the packaging area followed in 2015. Each section was automated on the same floor space as the existing production line while running at the regular production rate. With the completion of the automation in the packaging area this year, the automated production line incorporates an astounding amount of hardware and processing power.

Primarily based on Allen-Bradley hardware and software, the automated production line also utilizes the following:

  • MagneMotion MagneMover Lite Conveyor system,
  • 32 Mitsubishi robots,
  • 40 new pieces of custom-built equipment,
  • more than 1000 additional end devices including sensors, valve banks, servo motors, VFDs, and RFID read/write heads.
  • 21 Allen-Bradley ControlLogix PLCs,
  • 32 virtualized servers hosting Rockwell Software FactoryTalk applications
  • 56 Operator interface terminals

Because of this investment, Gentex Optics now benefits from a fully automated production line that increases production capacity while removing non-value added labor.  The upgraded system improves data collection and reporting allowing for future continuous improvement projects.

Congratulations to all on the success of the project!