Fabtech 2023 with Luke Surratt from Mazak Optonics – Dusty Jobs Podcast – S4 E9

Fabtech 2023 with Luke Surratt from Mazak Optonics – Dusty Jobs Podcast – S4 E9

This is the last Dusty Jobs Podcast episode from Fabtech 2023. In this episode we talk with Luke Surratt from Mazak Optonics Corp. Luke talks about some the new laser cutting technology Mazak has to offer as well as new automation. He also talks about their service and installation offerings.





Narrator: Welcome to the Dusty Jobs podcast from Imperial Systems. Industry knowledge to make your job easier and safer.

Donovan: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Dusty Jobs podcast. We’re still at Fabtech, day four. Joining us now is Luke Sarat from Mazak. How you doing Luke?

Luke: Good. How about you?

Donovan: Well I am – I’m glad to be sitting down. It’s been a long show. How about you?

Luke: Yeah, same. Ready to go home.

Donovan: Exactly, yeah, yeah. So we’re finally wrapping it up here. Do you guys have a good show so far?

Luke: Excellent show. One of the best in in my tenure here at Mazak. You know a lot of good boot traffic, a lot of good leads, a lot of new stuff, a lot of exciting things to see.

Donovan: Yeah, yeah, and we’ll get into it in a minute why a lot of people came into your booth. How did you get into this industry? Today we kind of have a lot of students walking around and what’s your role over at Mazak? What do you do there?

Luke: So I’m general manager of customer service. Been at Mazak Optonics almost 22 years. Started out of college as a field service engineer. Did multiple jobs throughout our service group.

Donovan: So field service engineer. What’s that?

Luke: So traveling, installing, servicing our equipment Monday through Friday. Seeing the country on Mazak.

Donovan: Yeah there you go. There you go. So some of these young people that might be a career they would be interested in something like that. So yeah sorry keep going.

Luke: Yeah so did that for about 10 years or so. Then ended up having a family. So moved more into an in-house role. Service supervisor, was training supervisor. I ran our installation group for about eight years. So I was installation manager and then moved to general manager of customer service. So service, support, basically anything customer facing is underneath me.

Donovan: Well that’s incredible. That’s great because that just shows that one, if you’ve been with a company that long – great company.

Luke: Yep.

Donovan: Two, that they promote from within and guys like you who are now in upper management, you got there because you know what’s going on below. You know everything your guys are going through you’ve gone through it yourself and that’s just great when you can see that in a company that you know you can really relate to the guy who’s out there traveling. You’ve done it.

Luke: Too well sometimes. But yeah I mean it’s it’s been a great company. It’s been a great ride. You know one thing that’s kept me there is our technology. Constantly advancing. Constantly changing. There’s always something new, always something you can learn.

Donovan: So well well let’s get to that something new. That’s why you probably got a lot of people in your booth. You guys had something to come out this year, right?

Luke: Yeah. So we showed a couple new things this year at the show. First – sorting robot. So it’s a pick and place robot. We have it on the… we have a seven kilowatt Neo.

Donovan: Pick and place?

Luke: Yeah. So we got a seven kilowatt Neo. Seven kilowatt fiber laser with a KST automation which is your raw material and your skeletons end up right above the two PC. Small footprint and then it comes out to a third position with an actual robotic arm that is taking the parts out of the skeleton and placing them on pallets.

Donovan: Okay so unlike some other tables, table’s gonna you’re gonna have a piece of metal out and then it’s gonna slide in – it’s gonna get cut. And then and then it’s gonna slide back out. And then once it gets back out of the unit there’s gonna – you guys have a robot now that pulls all those parts off.

Luke: Yeah so it actually comes out your standard laser has two pallet changers. So it comes out to your cutting position and then like a loading and unloading style position. So it comes out to a second position and you could put the whole nest back up in the tower. Traditional kind of loading and unloading of a laser. Or it can come out to a third position where the robot is and actually pick the parts out of the sheet. Once it’s done picking the parts it’ll go back into that second position and unload the skeleton into the automation.

Donovan: Oh, so does it know from the program how to organize those parts also?

Luke: Yes. Yes all out of the programming software. So the same software that’s driving the laser, the NC code, to cut the parts is driving the sorting program.

Donovan: So I could have possibly three or four different pieces on one cut and the robot will know how to sort them and put them in the appropriate piles or places.

Luke: Correct.

Donovan: Wow that’s got to save some time there.

Luke: Yeah. Yeah I mean that’s you know in this industry everybody’s hurting for one thing right now and it’s people. Skilled people. You know most shops you go to have two or three people with a lot of lasers that are shaking and sorting parts all day long and this is just a solution for our customers to eliminate the manpower of sorting parts.

Donovan: Right. Right. And then it’s it’s uh it’s gonna keep things safer a little bit too, right? Oh you know not not as much handling not as much attention for people cutting or dropping something on themselves.

Luke: Yeah I mean it it’s not gonna call in sick it’s gonna show up. Yeah it’s gonna work. Nights and weekends.

Donovan: Yeah. Well the shop can that work lights out.

Luke: Yes it can.

Donovan: So you could you get at the end of the day you could load that up and then come back in the morning and all your parts are sorted there.

Luke: Yep. Ready to go for next process in the next morning.

Donovan: So we were talking to a couple other people earlier in the day about plasma tables. And when we talk about a laser table, how hard is it for someone to learn how to use that table? Is it is it pretty easy? I mean if there’s someone out there that one of these young people and they’re listening they’re going oh I never thought I could have a job as a laser table operator. I mean is that something that would require a college degree?

Luke: Most, no. No, it would not require a college degree even to come you know start out with us you know we promote a lot like you were talking earlier from within. You know a lot of younger generation you know know what they’re doing, got a good head on their shoulders. They’ll come into Mazak and we’ll start them on a path to become a field service tech. We do a lot of training and growing from within, as well as going into the workforce. There’s really not a big difference from operating a plasma table to a laser. It’s a different technology. The M and G code, the programming, most of it’s all the same.

Donovan: So but it’s not it’s not overly complicated is what I mean. Do you think I could do it?

Luke: Yeah.

Donovan: Well if I could do it probably a lot of people out there could do it. So, well that’s great because that’s just another opportunity for you know young people coming out of high school, coming out of trade schools that they could learn this job, learn this field. And I mean you guys are selling a lot of these things, right?

Luke: Oh yeah.

Donovan: So there’s gonna be a need for people to be out there and running them.

Luke: There’s a need for running them. There’s a need for people to service them. There’s need all the way around. You know, manufacturing has kind of gotten a bad wrap in the industry, you know of you go in to your guidance counselor showing you a Ford Model T plant. But that’s not manufacturing these days. You know shops are clean, very environmentally friendly and safe, and you know most shops we go into now painted floors very nice facilities, you know. It’s not the manufacturing what people think about there’s a ton of technology in manufacturing. You know many of the shops got a AGV’s running around moving the material from place to place, things that you wouldn’t even think about.

Donovan: Well and I don’t I don’t think we’re ever gonna go backwards either. Everything is just gonna keep getting more advanced. And I’d say if you’re a young person coming out of school right now it’d be a great field to start looking into.

Luke: Oh yes, for sure.

Donovan: Because you can learn it now and keep going because like you said things just keep getting better. You guys just came out with the sorting robot that wasn’t even a thing six years ago that people were thinking about. And you guys – did you guys come out with a new laser this year?

Luke: Yes we did. We also debuted here at Fabtech our larger platform laser. It’s a 4.2 meter bed by 2 meter bed so 4.2 by 2 larger platform.

Donovan: That’s big.

Luke: Yes it is. And 20 kilowatt. So up until this week you know the highest laser power Mazak was doing was 15 kilowatt. So now we’re up to 20 kilowatt.

Donovan: So what’s that additional kilowattage? What’s that allow you to do?

Luke: So it allows us to do more capacity – thicker material, you know, that two inch aluminum or that two inch stainless but that’s not really the core of the market for that machine. The core is to be able to take your mid-range material so I’d say 3/8’s up to 3/4 and cut it faster. You know 10 years ago if we were sitting here everyone was cutting with oxygen to help accelerate the process to help the melding process of the material. That’s what you need to use on a lower powered laser to cut thicker material. Now in that leaves an oxide edge on the side of the part. So everyone would have the second process in it for paint or powder coat. You know get that oxide off the edge. Where cutting it with nitrogen or shop air for an assist gas. You don’t have the oxidation. So now as the power increases the capacity to nitrogen or oxygen cut increases and it’s much faster.

Donovan: That makes a lot of sense. So you can cut faster and cleaner.

Luke: Yes.

Donovan: So if you bought a new laser from you guys with the robot basically you could go right out of that process into powder coating if you needed.

Luke: Yes. Yeah. Powder coat weld paint. Doesn’t matter.

Donovan: So you can almost eliminate with your guys new system you can eliminate three steps in the process. Of what it takes to get things done.

Luke: Yeah. Or not have to invest much in your powder or your paint system. You know it not always was a secondary process to get the oxide off. A lot of places would put extra steps in the wash cycle for their paint system. Which costs money and time as well.

Donovan: Right. Right. Yeah. And everybody’s trying to be more efficient. Nobody wants things to take longer. Well that’s that’s exciting stuff. That’s exciting stuff. So just trying to think through anything else that you guys might… you guys do all your own service work like we were talking about earlier. Yep. Guys are install service full turnkey.

Luke: Yeah. Full service. You know Mazak we’ve had lasers in the US since 1986 and we still service and support everything back to 1986. Full part stock service. Capacity people.

Donovan: Oh wow. That’s impressive.

Luke: Yeah. So you know you buy something from Mazak you know a lot of the competitors other industries will throw you to a third party after seven to ten years. Not us. We are a hundred percent will work on everything we’ve ever sold.

Donovan: Well that’s great. That’s great. Well hey I know it’s been a long week.

Luke: Yes it has.

Donovan: We’ve all had a long week and I appreciate you just giving us a couple minutes to come talk.

Luke: I appreciate you guys taking the time.

Donovan: Yeah. Yeah. And so is there anything else you want to share about if anybody’s trying to get a hold of Mazak, if they’re interested in a laser. What’s the best way to do that? What’s the best way to look you guys up?

Luke: The best best way generally is to jump on our website. You know MazakOptonics.com. Can connect with us there.

Donovan: And you guys have a showroom locally, too, correct?

Luke: Correct. We have a showroom. It’s in Elgin, Illinois which is about 30 miles here from downtown Chicago.

Donovan: Yeah. So if someone wanted to come out and actually see one working in person, and they didn’t make it to Fabtech they could come out and see you guys.

Luke: Yes they can.

Donovan: So that’s great. Well Luke, thank you so much for coming on. Go check out Mazak on their website. I bet you guys got some stuff on YouTube and other things too.

Luke: Yes we do.

Donovan: They’re on LinkedIn and you can find us on all those platforms too. Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, TikTok. We’re on them all. So feel free to check us out on those and until we talk to you next time stay healthy stay safe.

Luke: Okay. Thank you.

Narrator: Thanks for listening to the Dusty Jobs podcast. Breathe better, work safer.

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Fabtech 2023 with Chris Phillip from AKS Cutting Systems – Dusty Jobs Podcast – S4 E8

Fabtech 2023 with Chris Phillip from AKS Cutting Systems – Dusty Jobs Podcast – S4 E8

In this episode of the Dusty Jobs Podcast Fabtech 2023 Edition, Donovan talks with Chris Phillip from AKS Cutting Systems. This is the second time Chris has been on the podcast. This first time Chris was on he told us about the history of AKS Cutting. On this episode Chris talks about their new developments on display at Fabtech.





Narrator: Welcome to the Dusty Jobs podcast from Imperial Systems. Industry knowledge to make your job easier and safer.

Donovan: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Dusty Jobs podcast. Today Chris is back with us again from AKS Cutting Solutions. How are you guys doing over there?

Chris: Good we’re doing really well. This has been no joke the best show that we’ve had in the last four or five years.

Donovan: That’s great that’s great. Now if people aren’t familiar with AKS they can go back and listen to the other podcast that you and I did together but give us a little information a little sum up about what AKS is and what you guys do.

Chris: Sure so we are based out of Cleveland, Ohio. We have a pretty large facility there, 55,000 square feet. We’re a fourth generation family owned business. My dad is currently the president. My great-grandfather bought the company. My grandfather ran the business for 50 years. So he just retired a couple of years ago. We talked about him quite a bit in our last one. So we manufacture CNC tables, right? We know how to move a tool really well and put it in the right spot. Right now the tools we integrate are plasma and water jet. And then we have all sorts of different little add-ons and features that we can put on top of that to increase the capacity and capabilities of the system.

Donovan: So yeah. So anybody who’s not familiar the big sheet of metal comes in. Lots of parts and pieces need cut out of that. And then instead of doing it by hand you guys can program it into a machine that cuts it out.

Chris: Exactly.

Donovan: That explains it pretty simply right?

Chris: Right. You got that right. So basically every weldment in the world is going to start with big pieces of material that you got to make smaller. Yeah. And then you’re going to put them back together. Right. Right. It’s kind of a weird little thing. Additive manufacturing really is just welding. And then there’s also 3D printing. It’s mainly welding. Subtractive manufacturing. Cutting stuff up and sheening things down. Doing stuff to a big piece and making it smaller. That’s the side that we play on. So basically any shop in the world, any fabricating facility in the world, they’re going to bring in bar stock. They’re going to bring in sheet. They’re going to bring in their raw materials. And the first thing they want to do is make it small. That’s why you put a plasma table right next to your back door. So you bring in the big stuff, toss it on there, cut it out, make it small, and then give it off to the welders.

Donovan: Yeah, that is the workflow of a lot of shops. So what’s new with AKS in the realm of plasma tables?

Chris: Sure. So we’ve released two new products in the last year. One being the Plasmatic and the other being the Plasmatic Pro. We’re demoing the Plasmatic in our booth A3525, and it’s been received very well. We’ve actually sold a couple of them here at the show.

Donovan: So what makes the Plasmatic different than just the standard table that you guys have had in the past?

Chris: Not much actually. Other than the price point. It’s quite a bit cheaper. So what we’ve done is we’ve reduced some material weight. We’ve centralized some elements like the electrical cabinet and the drive package and whatnot. And we are using some smaller drives because we know that we’re not going to load up the machine with as much weight of tools and stuff. It is a dedicated plasma cutting system. And it’s definitely going to be a big player in the light industrial market.

Donovan: Nice. So you guys have figured out how to make a machine that’s geared towards a certain size of application and really just make it as economical as you can. Not sacrifice on any quality, just taking everything you can and making it a really economical for those small shops that maybe are just getting into their first plasma table. Is that what you’re looking at?

Chris: Exactly. You’ve got a shop and you want to get a plasma table and you don’t want to get a bolt together machine. You want to get something that’s solid, but you don’t want to have to spend $300,000, $400,000. That’s exactly what the Plasmatic is for. It’s for that shop that has 10, 15, 20 guys or a maintenance facility for a large shop or all sorts of those guys that are going to maybe use it 10, 15 hours a week. But they want to know that they have the durability that if they bump it with a tow motor, it’s going to be okay.

Donovan: There you go. So someone who’s thinking about getting a plasma table, what’s some of the things that maybe they’re a little scared of that really they shouldn’t be? Like what are some concerns you guys hear a lot about getting a plasma table?

Chris: I think the biggest one that they shouldn’t be concerned about is how difficult it is to operate the system. I can take anybody here and in about five minutes they can be running a Plasmatic.

Donovan: Oh really?

Chris: Yeah.

Donovan: So sometimes people are intimidated by the controls, but with you guys, not a big deal.

Chris: No, not a big deal at all. If you got a guy who wants to work and use that machine, I can teach him how to do it very, very quickly. New guys straight into the from the, you know, right new to the workforce. No issue.

Donovan: So what’s the big difference between the Plasmatic and the Plasmatic Pro then?

Chris: So the Plasmatic Pro is going to include fully encoded servos. And that’s going to allow us to utilize the Hypertherm XPR series of plasma power supply. The Plasmatic, the base model, that’s going to utilize the PowerMax sync series of handheld torches. And then we get the mechanized ones for the, for our CNC system. The Plasmatic Pro is going to have a little bit more powerful drives, a little bit bigger motors, and that’s going to allow it to have the necessary XLD cell to get what you want out of an XPR series.

Donovan: So it’s kind of like it’s saying it’s the pro it’s stepping it up a little bit one more level. For when you have a heavy, more heavy duty application.

Chris: Yep. So that’s going to go the power, the Plasmatic is limited to the Max Pro 200, which will give you about two inch mild steel piercing capacity. Okay, the XPR 300 is going to get you to around three inches. It’s also going to be your high def or as Hypertherm likes to call it their extreme definition of plasma cutting. And it looks pretty good. I’ll put it against any laser part past half inch.

Donovan: Oh, wow, that’s great. So you were talking a little bit earlier about that it’s not, it’s not the hardest thing in the world to learn how to run a plasma table. So today with the show, we usually have a lot of students that are walking around and a lot of them are welders. And I mean, do you think that there’s for how many tables you guys sell? I mean, this is a legitimate occupation someone can be for certain, right plasma table operator?

Chris: You just gave me a really good idea. Actually, I’m going to 100% grab multiple students today and video teaching them how to run the Plasmatic that I can that would be great cut apart in three minutes. Yeah, watch them go. Wow, I can do this. Yeah, because they 100% can. Anybody can.

Donovan: Yeah, because I mean, when I was in high school, that wasn’t something my guidance counselor was telling me about, right? I mean, they’re occupations. But I know we’re always looking for guys that have somewhat of an experience in that, you know, in a plasma table. And what do you think would be the if someone’s out there thinking about maybe I could do this, what would be some advice you would give them is there places they can learn.

Chris: If they’re in Cleveland, Ohio, give me a call.

Donovan: Okay. So, so you can, well, how would they do that? How would they get ahold of AKS? What’s the best way to get ahold of you guys?

Chris: Best ways right through our website. Okay. Yep, 100%. I actually get all those emails. So I’ll see it. If you want a job with a plasma table, and you’re in Cleveland, please give me a call.

Donovan: And then, but do you guys have resources too? Maybe someone just wants to look into what it’s like.

Chris: We actually have a whole training library on our website of how to set up and install a Plasmatic system in particular. And they’re all chopped up in the two three minute videos, we’ve about 30 of them on our plasmaticusa.com. And right there, you can access those videos. And you can see what it actually takes soup to nuts to install a plasma table. And you’ll realize, takes about three hours.

Donovan: Yeah, well, that’s not, that’s not even that long when you’re talking about a big piece of equipment. Like that.

Chris: There’s no floor prep required for it. You just take a nice little scale, put it on the sides, level up the machine tool, fill it up with that model currently has some water. The pros also going to be a downdraft system as well. Right. But the current model is a water table. And you can be up and running in just a couple hours.

Donovan: That’s phenomenal. Yeah. So, so that’s great, because I know with a lot of people entering the workforce and trying to figure out what they want to do. I mean, plasma table operator is, is a lot of people are trying to figure out what they want to do. And plasma table operator is great.

Chris: It’s a great gig. It’s a good gig. You’re probably going to go if you were to join the workforce and go run a plasma table within three years, somebody’s going to start teaching how to weld. And then you’re going to go be a welder. And then you’re going to go be a shop manager. Then you’re going to run that facility. And you can have a – you can easily live your entire career in a fab shop and make good money doing it. If you look around and you see things around you, I was made somewhere in a shop.

Donovan: Yeah. If it’s out of metal, it’s probably been cut on the table and put together by somebody. So that’s great. That’s great. So what’s the – is there anything coming out in the future for AKS that we should be looking for maybe anything new, anything.

Chris: So on on the larger side of our house, the Accu-Kuts, the Dura-Kuts, the True-Kuts, as we call them the blue line, we do have some new options in particular for the Accu-Kut. The big one being a self cleaning system. So we did release a self cleaning system that as material falls into the table, there is now a motor that’s on a clutch with a drivetrain – chain, two drive chains on big sprocket gears and just between that is pieces of angle iron, they slowly cycle across the bottom of the table. And all they do is they just wipe out the material. They literally push the material out that falls into the table.

Donovan: So it’s kind of like a squeegee. For metal.

Chris: It’s very simple. Yep.

Donovan: Yeah. Now prior to that, you would have to actually get in there and pull all those pieces out?

Chris: Yeah.

Donovan: And so now that’s one less thing you got to worry about.

Chris: Exactly. You turn it on. Our system runs passively. It runs continuously. The standard methodology for a self cleaning system for the last 20 years is you got to turn off the power supply or turn off at least not be cutting and then hold a button or hold something that pushes a plow or a blade and as much materials is on it comes out. So you could have an inch, you could have two feet of material in there. And hopefully you didn’t overload it. Or you’re gonna have to go in there and get this stuff out. Our system, on the other hand, you turn it on and it’s slow. It honestly very slowly moves. It’s about one rotation a minute of that blade, but there’s 12 blades on it or I think it’s 12 blades are on it. And that just continuously moves out a small amount of material right as it’s cut.

Donovan: So if we were talking about maybe anyway, you know, we’re familiar with shovel and snow in the wintertime. Yeah. This is just taking that snow away as it’s snowing instead of waiting till the end and trying to plow it all into a pile.

Chris: Exactly.

Donovan: So well, that’s that’s probably an easier way to do it.

Chris: Definitely.

Donovan: And it helps not create as many issues I would imagine.

Chris: And it’s simple. We don’t have a big heavy drive train that’s trying to pull 2000 pounds of material.

Donovan: That’s true.

Chris: It’s just pushing out 75 maybe 80 pounds of stuff across the bottom of the table. And with the integrated clutch, we’re actually running a little promo over there. We have some nuts on the side of the system and we’re demoing one. And if you can throw one in and get it to jam the system, you win a little prize. Nobody has done it yet. It actually sheared one bolt and half. Somebody did get it in there and it just sheared it. So it’s not a big issue.

Donovan: Well, that’s great. Chris, I know we’ve been working with you guys for a long time and we really appreciate what you guys do and how you do it and being an American company right in Cleveland, right?

Chris: Yup.

Donovan: Yeah. And we really appreciate our partnership with you guys. And you guys are doing a great job building great quality products. And we’re just glad to try to help keep the people who are running those tables healthy and safe.

Chris: You got that right. It’s a big deal. I see more and more. I’m happy to see more people are purchasing dust collectors with their systems. Yeah. It’s a big deal, especially when you get into, as you guys know, any of your stainless steel cutting, where you’re dealing with hexachromium gases and whatnot. You got to you got to watch out for that. And even with a water table, there’s still people putting ambient dust collection systems around that just to really keep the air clean.

Donovan: Yeah. Yeah. And water tables work well, but maybe they don’t always work 100% of the time, depending on what you’re doing.

Chris: You can hear all about that in our prior podcast.

Donovan: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, that’s true. We did cover all that. So but well, hey, I know you got a lot going on. It’s Fabteach and we’re all excited about being here. So. But I just want to say thanks for coming on.

Chris: Yeah, thank you.

Donovan: And everybody can find you guys. What’s your website one more time?

Chris: AKScutting.com

Donovan: And that’s where you can reach out to these guys. If you’re looking for more information on a cutting table, about running cutting table. Maybe you want to buy a cutting table.

Chris: Yup. Any of it. Please give us a call. We’re always there to help our customers or people who are just interested in the product itself.

Donovan: Yeah. So and same with us, you can find us on any social media platform, Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok, YouTube. And we’re glad to have anybody reach out to us in any way to help them with any of their fume collection needs. So, but until next time, stay healthy and stay safe. Thanks.

Chris: Thank you.

Narrator: Thanks for listening to the Dusty Jobs podcast. Breathe better, work safer.

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Fabtech 2023 with Josh Pawley from Vectis Automation – Dusty Jobs Podcast – S4 E7

Fabtech 2023 with Josh Pawley from Vectis Automation – Dusty Jobs Podcast – S4 E7

For this episode of the Dusty Jobs Podcast, Donovan meets with Josh Pawley from Vectis Automation at Fabtech. Josh talks about what the difference is between traditional robots and cobots. He also talks about why a company would want to use a cobot and how it can make a more efficient and cleaner work environment.





Narrator: Welcome to the Dusty Jobs podcast from Imperial Systems. Industry knowledge to make your job easier and safer.

Donovan: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Dusty Jobs Podcast. We’re still here at Fabtech and we’re joining us today is Josh Pawley with Vectis Automation.

Josh: Yes sir.

Donovan: They’re one of our neighbors here at Fabtech so they’re in the booth next door and they were kind enough to lend us one of their cobots in our booth. It has been just really cool to see it all week just over there moving around and and working underneath our Air-Port Hood but we want to learn more about you guys. Josh you’re one of the founders, is that right, of the company? So how did you get into this world? This is I mean cobots, robots, everything’s coming down the line. How did you get into the robotics industry to start out?

Josh: Yeah so my career actually started in robotic welding 12 years ago. I was a mechanical engineering student at Colorado State University. Sophomore, walked into a career fair and found this company Wolf Robotics, talked to them, was able to land an internship there and that’s kind of where it all started. So that was in 2011. Did assembly, kind of building the systems first, then applications engineering, project management, was a regional sales manager helping customers solve their problems at that company and then in 2019 some of my colleagues and I we got together and founded Vectis. So the whole idea behind Vectis is making automation easier to use, more accessible for a broader range of manufacturers right?

Donovan: Okay.

Josh: Traditional automation solutions have a lot of hurdles to them right? You know there’s cost, footprint, flexibility, programming time, training time, fixed time and cost. So our whole goal is how can you democratize that right? How can you make it much easier to bring automation to folks where it wasn’t quite accessible before?

Donovan: Well yeah I know we’re seeing that a lot here at the show in general is that you know one of the jokes is that robots don’t get sick, they don’t call off, they tend to keep working. But you guys aren’t a robot, you guys are a cobot right? So maybe there’s some people out there that don’t know what that is. Can you break down with the difference between a cobot and a robot is?

Josh: Absolutely. So a cobot is a robot, it’s just a squishing together of collaborative and robot right?

Donovan: Okay.

Josh: And it’s collaborative in the sense they’re at their six axis arm just like robots have been for decades.

Donovan: Gotcha.

Josh: There are six axis arm but it’s unique in the fact that humans can work along side it. And that’s empowered by the fact that there’s force, torque and power sensing on every axis. So if it runs into you it’ll stop before it hurts you right? And so now you can do away with the caging, you can do away with the light curtains, the door interlocks, all that stuff right? That makes traditional automation a bit more monumental right? And now it’s becoming more, we even call them tools right? The whole idea is how can it be easy to use flexible tools for the welder/fabricator.

Donovan: Well and I can say from sitting here watching your guys piece of equipment all week in comparison to some of the other robots at the show that yours seems to have a real, it’s a real smooth motion. It moves real, real carefully and smooth.

Josh: Approachably is what we like to say.

Donovan: Yeah there you go. That’s a great word.

Josh: It’s approachable right? In the fab shop you’re not scared of it right? When you look at traditional robots that are very heavy and move very fast, they were born for automotive. They were born for doing millions of parts and cars.

Donovan: Yeah and that’s it you see those and they’re like –

Josh: So a third of a second of a cycle time matters. So you’re moving quick. You’re moving fast. The whole thing’s cordoned off because automotive’s aligned right? So yeah absolutely there’s no operators involved right? Whereas on the flip side we’re trying to fill that gap for customers doing 20 parts, 50 parts, 500 parts right? Where I want a more approachable tool versus a high production line robot right?

Donovan: Yeah so if I’m sitting here what would be, tell me some fields, some jobs that your unit is just ideal for like what would that be? Because it’s not, like we’re talking, it’s not automation, it’s not slamming out a hundred parts in 20 minutes or whatever. It’s for what? What would be ideal for you guys?

Josh: It’s a great question, it’s a tough one to answer because we find more and more applications every day and the answer is it’s a very broad range right? You know we’ve got anything from job shops doing batches of 20s, 50s, 500, 5000 right? Those medium volume quantities right? To OEM manufacturers making construction equipment, making mining equipment, making agricultural equipment, making widgets right? We just spoke to someone that’s making garden tools right? Those have to get welded right? We spoke to someone making drinking fountains. Those have to get welded. There’s so many things as y’all know it welded in everyday life that if there’s some level of repetitiveness to them the whole idea is how can we offload the boring arc on time to the cobot leaving the skilled human welders to really focus on the welds that require skill right? And that are tougher for any type of automation to do.

Donovan: Yeah. And probably also helping to eliminate some of the health risks that come along with some of this type of welding. You know some welding is not as bad as others and I’m sure having a cobot in that space to handle something that we don’t want in our own breathing zone is ideal.

Josh: Well and especially when you pair it with like the Air-Port right? Because now you’ve got the ability to one, get the human operator, human welder farther away from the fume exposure right? Then we’ve got the ability to capture that as well right? So you’re absolutely creating a healthier safer shop you know fewer black boogers coming out of the nose at the end of the day right? Which benefits everybody right? And we you know we talk a lot about the skilled labor shortage, the skilled welder shortage. Well it’s not – I don’t know if it’s a job I would pick right away right? Because it is dirty right? So what can we do together to create a safer, healthier work environment as well right? Let’s get those fumes out of there. Let’s get the operator farther away from the fumes. Let’s get the operator using a tool to accomplish those boring tasks.

Donovan: Now you keep calling it a tool and to me personally if someone put that in front of me and said you need to run this it seems a little intimidating to me. But I mean that’s what you guys do you build the software I mean how hard is it for a guy like me who doesn’t have a lot of experience or maybe someone out there who’s thinking about this how hard is it to really learn how to use one of these things?

Josh: Most customers are welding within the first day.

Donovan: Really?

Josh: And even and particularly the ones that have no prior experience with robotics or automation or whatnot. That’s really what we’ve done with the product is lower that technological threshold to be able to start using it right? I kind of make the comparison to you know let’s say you’ve got you got to put nails and studs right or build a roof right? You’ve got two tools at your disposal you got a hammer and you got a root and a nailer right? Both are valuable right? Let’s now make that analogy a you know manual welder and a cobot tool right? There are going to be nails that make sense to be driven with the hammer right? But for one you know when you’re doing the sheeting on the top of the roof why not grab the nailer right? There’s a little you know to a nailer it’s a little intimidating yeah hey with some quick instruction you can get it going pretty quick right? So that’s the whole idea is the boring monotonous repetitive tasks what can you offload to those cobots?

Donovan: But I don’t have to be a computer programmer to run this thing right?

Josh: Correct so yeah so most of our customers it’s a welder, a fabricator, a grinder that that’s programming the cobot right? That was exactly the intent that we made the system for was for folks that are not programmers not CNC operators not engineers to be able to pick it up and use it very quickly.

Donovan: From talking to you before that’s really what you guys your specialty is just your software that allows that to be easy.

Josh: Yeah it’s a software definitely. Tt’s the integration options to accomplish a wide range of applications and then see application expertise you know. We’ve got over two hundred we’ve been doing this together for over 200 years combined experience. Being able to help especially new customers navigate how do I be successful with automation right? That’s the other thing that we really help bring to the table.

Donovan: Yeah so I don’t I don’t have to be an expert in automation because you guys will be the experts and just let me know.

Josh: And our whole mantra is we want to teach our customers how to fish not give them a fish right? Because if you’re taught how to fish you can eat for a lifetime right? So and I think it’s really cool to see as well with you know again the skilled labor shortage technology like this especially when it’s in a cleaner environment with an Air-Port or another Imperial Systems product we’re bringing more folks in the industry because it’s made it’s being made to be more interesting. I get to use technology. I get to work in a cleaner healthier environment right? So I think I think it’s one of the ways that we can one, solve the crisis by increasing productivity but also by bringing more folks into the workforce.

Donovan: Yeah and we found that too it’s a lot of people used to just assume that if you’re gonna be a welder you’re gonna be down down in the dirt in the muck and as things change and people progress shops are getting cleaner and cleaner and cleaner and and things like using cobots and having clean air is I think that’s just where it’s going.

Josh: Yeah I believe so too.We see customers using it as a recruiting tool like, “Hey come work for us because our shop is cleaner. We have cool technology that you can use.” It’s a powerful tool to the next generation.

Donovan: I don’t think it’s going away.

Josh: I agree.

Donovan: I think it’s important for those shops that are out there that are weld shops to figure out who they not just want to buy something from but who they want to partner with in this in this side and that sounds like what you guys are all about it’s not just selling someone a piece of equipment but partnering with them –

Josh: Absolutely

Donovan: – and finding the right solution for them.

Josh: Absolutely we only win when our customers win, right? We’re privately held. We’re not beholden to anybody but our customers and our team members right? So it’s even one of the reasons why we’re able to offer our 30-day money-back guarantee which is nuts in capital equipment right but it’s because we’re doing our due diligence to make sure we’re doing right for our customers the whole way through right.

Donovan: That’s phenomenal. So where are you guys based out of?

Josh: We’re in Colorado, Loveland, about an hour north of Denver.

Donovan: Okay and if anybody out there is interested in seeing more about your equipment or getting more information how would they do that?

Josh: Heck yeah. Great way is our website www.vectisautomation.com. V-E-C-T-I-S. We’re also really active on LinkedIn. There’s a lot of good content. You can see a lot of customer, implementations get some ideas flowing. So LinkedIn you can search for Vectis Automation there and our YouTube channel as well Vectis Automation YouTube channel just see get some ideas flowing on how it might be relevant in your shop.

Donovan: You guys you’re just like us American-made American owned company right?

Josh: Amen. Do it right by customers. Absolutely. I love it.

Donovan: I know it’s a busy show. We all have things going on and I really appreciate you stopping by.

Josh: Thank you. It’s been great to partner in your booth and I love this demo and being able to show – I love the fog machine right it shows exactly how that system is gonna help keep a shop cleaner so we appreciate the partnership.

Donovan: Well it’s great so same with us if you guys are interested in learning more about Imperial you can find us on YouTube, our website, LinkedIn, Facebook, most social media platforms were on there but thanks for listening and until next time stay healthy and stay safe.

Narrator: Thanks for listening to the Dusty Jobs podcast. Breathe better, work safer.

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Enhancing Laser Welding Safety with Imperial Systems Inc. Air-Port Hood

Enhancing Laser Welding Safety with Imperial Systems Inc. Air-Port Hood

Laser welding is a precision-driven process that offers numerous advantages in various industries. These can range from automotive and aerospace to electronics and medical devices. However, it also comes with potential safety concerns, particularly related to fume and smoke generation and laser light exposure. To protect workers and create a safe work environment, companies use innovative solutions like the Air-Port Fume Exhaust Hood from Imperial Systems to capture fumes from laser welding. Using this hood with other safety measures will reduce exposure to laser radiation. Let’s explore the benefits of using the Air-Port Hood and how it contributes to laser welding safety.

Air-Port Fume Exhaust Hood with protective curtains ducted to a CMAXX dust and fume collector to ensure laser welding safety

The Importance of Laser Welding Safety

Laser welding involves the use of intense beams of light to melt and fuse materials together with extreme precision. It offers many advantages such as reduced distortion and minimal heat-affected zones. However, laser welding also produces harmful fumes and smoke. These emissions can pose serious health risks to operators. This includes respiratory problems, eye irritation, and long-term health issues if not properly controlled. Laser welding can also emit laser radiation. This light can certainly harm the eyes or skin of bystanders with exposure to certain wavelengths. As a result, it could potentially result in permanent blindness.  

Additionally, the interaction between the laser beam and metal surfaces can produce hazardous byproducts, including metal fumes and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Therefore, ensuring the laser welding safety of operators and maintaining compliance with environmental regulations is paramount in these applications. 

The Imperial Systems Inc. Air-Port Fume Exhaust Hood

Imperial Systems Inc. is a renowned leader in designing and manufacturing air pollution control equipment, including high-quality fume extraction systems. The engineering of the Air-Port Hood specifically addresses the challenges associated with laser welding applications. It offers a comprehensive solution for fume capture and operator safety. The hood also has an optional enclosure that will reduce the chances of exposure to unprotected bystanders in laser welding applications.

Here are some key features and benefits of the Air-Port Fume Exhaust Hood:

  • Effective Fume Capture: The Air-Port Hood is designed to efficiently capture smoke and fumes at the source, ensuring a cleaner and healthier work environment. Its strategically placed hood openings and airflow patterns effectively contain emissions. 
  • Modular Design: The Air-Port Hood’s modular design allows for easy customization and integration into existing laser welding setups. This flexibility ensures that it can adapt to various welding configurations and sizes.  
  • Safety Compliance: Imperial Systems Inc. understands the importance of compliance with safety and environmental regulations. The Air-Port Hood is designed to help companies meet these requirements by efficiently capturing and filtering emissions. With the optional enclosure and other laser safety equipment with laser-compliant window panels, the Air-Port can also reduce laser radiation in a manufacturing facility. 
  • Operator Comfort: The Air-Port Hood is engineered to enhance operator comfort by reducing exposure to harmful fumes and smoke. This, in turn, improves productivity and operator well-being while elevating laser welding safety. 
  • Durability: Built to withstand the rigors of industrial environments, the Air-Port Hood is constructed from high-quality materials, ensuring longevity and reliability. 

Improve Laser Welding Safety and Compliance in Your Shop

Laser welding is a cutting-edge technology that offers numerous benefits, but it comes with the challenge of managing laser exposure and fumes and ensuring operator safety. The Imperial Systems Inc. Air-Port Hood is a valuable solution for companies looking to enhance safety and compliance in their laser welding applications. 

The Air-Port Hood protects both workers and the environment by reducing laser reflection and capturing and controlling fumes and smoke at the source. Its modular design, operator comfort features, and cost-efficiency make it a standout choice for businesses seeking a comprehensive solution to laser welding safety concerns. 

Investing in the Air-Port Hood from Imperial Systems Inc. demonstrates a commitment to both safety and sustainability, allowing companies to enjoy the benefits of laser welding technology while ensuring the well-being of their workforce and the environment. 

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Fabtech 2023 with Jeremiah Wann – Dusty Jobs Podcast – S4 E6

Fabtech 2023 with Jeremiah Wann – Dusty Jobs Podcast – S4 E6

In this episode of the Dusty Jobs Podcast, Donovan talks to the Owner and CEO of Imperial Systems, Jeremiah Wann. Jeremiah mentions what is new in the booth this year for Fabtech and also what the forecast of industry looks like. Donovan and Jeremiah also discuss new marketing videos being released and the amazing people featured in them.





Narrator: Welcome to the Dusty Jobs podcast from Imperial Systems. Industry knowledge to make your job easier and safer.

Donovan: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Dusty Job podcast. We’re still at Fabtech and today we’re talking with Jeremiah Wann, the owner of Imperial Systems. How you doing Jeremiah?

Jeremiah: I’m doing well. It is still Fabtech.

Donovan: Still Fabtech. We’re still here.

Jeremiah: Day two.

Donovan: How are you holding up?

Jeremiah: Doing good. You know you get a little tired but it’s good you know. Just nonstop talking the whole time.

Donovan: It is. But that’s good. There’s been a lot of people here. Seems like a very popular show this year. It’s great to see a lot of people coming back after kind of the years we had with with COVID and now it’s really a lot of people are showing up and it’s exciting.

Jeremiah: Yeah I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve talked to several companies in industry. Some of the kind of the leading you know larger laser companies and just seeing how things are going. You know, kind of gauging their you know their attendance and their sales and they’ve all had good things to say. So they’re all saying they’re still selling lasers. Customers are positive. They’re still buying stuff so we’re pretty hopeful things look good.

Donovan: Yeah so with that you know we’re here. We got a couple new things in our booth. A couple cool things we got going on and yeah I mean tell us about that tell us about where you’re gonna see what’s that’s new here when you come to the Imperial booth.

Jeremiah: Well well first thing when you come to our booth you may or may not see an alien in our booth.

Donovan: That’s true.

Jeremiah: That’s kind of a big deal. You know, this year we decided to do something a little different. We started a video series called Sparks of Creation. It’s a four-part video series but what we’re trying to do really is you know not so much try to promote our product which I know is a strange concept but just really try to highlight people that are passionate about the the welding industry in general and just just to kind of say you know kind of a little nod to people that are out there actually in the trenches doing welding day-to-day and you know kind of really getting down and getting dirty with like you know the the kind of the heart and soul of this industry which is welding right right? So, you know Jen Phillips was the one that we selected to do our first video with and she’s from Canada. I, Saskatchatoon I think is how you say it. Kind of up there in northern Canada and it’s just been fun. We visited with her for two days her and her husband now they’ve been here and she’s showcasing her work. She’s got an alien here that’s really a cool piece and then we commissioned her to make an eagle for us.

Donovan: It’s awesome. It’s beautiful. Yeah.

Jeremiah: It’s cool. It’s like a baby eagle so like it’s smaller. It’s not like a full-size eagle but I think they’re called what do they call it? Eaglets?

Donovan: Sure. Yeah.

Jeremiah: So it’s like an eaglet. It’s very beautiful.

Donovan: Yeah it is. It’s cool. If you got a big one there wouldn’t be a lot of space to put it so.

Jeremiah: Yeah a big eagle would probably be as big as me. Yeah I don’t want that.

Donovan: Yeah so it’s perfect for displaying.

Jeremiah:Yeah but anyway so we’re doing that. That’s in the booth. Our newest product is the you know the Air-Port edition. We’ve had the Air-Port for a few years now and I’ve got a lot of attention at Fabtech with it. The Air-Port is a modular weld hood with an integrated duct into it. So it’s the first ever of its kind to have that feature where the ducting is in there. You got a built-in spark trap in there. Adjustable dampers. Arched top to it. Just a beautiful hood. I mean aesthetically it’s amazing. It fits in and over robot very easily. The one thing that you know kind of customers were saying is you know we need it to fit to the safety screen with the weld curtain and that. We can never match that up perfectly you know so there’s always like a little transition piece or whatever and didn’t look neat. So we’re like –

Donovan: Now the original Air-Port, it came with curtains. You could get curtains on it. But people are asking for more than that.

Jeremiah: Well yeah I mean the curtains are nice but they kind of look messy and you know and you know you know me I mean I want things nice and neat.

Donovan: That’s true.

Jeremiah: And orderly and so we said why don’t we just build our own screen. So the new the new screen I’m going to call it a screen. It’s more of a panel system. But it’s cool man.

Donovan: I mean I know it definitely has a higher safety factor on it.

Jeremiah: Oh way more. Yeah.

Donovan: Like looking at here as opposed to a curtain where you could just walk through it. This has a very high safety factor on it. You’re not – you have to be very intentional about entering the same space as the robot.

Jeremiah: Oh yeah. I mean you’re definitely not going to walk through it. This one has clear acrylic panels on it. We did it for the show. The ones you would buy and put in your place you know would be a UV rated either a blue or a red panel. But yeah it’s pretty amazing. It’s got our signature crowns on it. It’s very easy to install. Yeah. So I mean it’s pretty cool. So yeah I’m pretty happy about it.

Donovan: Yeah. And we have it here actually working with our Shadow unit.

Jeremiah: Yeah with the smoke with the smoke machine.

Donovan: Yeah. And it’s it’s what’s what’s crazy is we’re sitting three feet, four feet away from the Shadow. I can barely even hear it where we’re at.

Jeremiah: It’s quiet. It purrs. The smoke machine that we added to it’s kind of cool. It you know it’s a good just a visual to see like how well it evacuates the smoke. And you can put a ton of smoke out of the machine. So like you know it really shows you know it shows it’s doing a good job.

Donovan: So if there’s a person in there working with a robot or a person that’s in there welding it’s going to it’s going to do a great job doing what our company’s about. And that’s you know making a healthier safer work environment for people so they can go home better every day to their families.

Jeremiah: Yeah for sure. Yeah. So no it’s it’s been good. A huge amount of response from it already. Everybody’s kind of taking pictures of it looking at it. I mean we’ve we’ve already quoted several of them and I think it’s going to be I think it’s going to be a winner. So anything new? What else did I miss?

Donovan: Well it’s it’s nothing nothing new but we still have a lot of our good products. CMAXX is here. Rhino Drum is here.

Jeremiah: Spark Trap.

Donovan: Spark Traps here.

Jeremiah: All the Filtration line. That’s kind of new because you know this year we brought the filtration booth back to this hall. We had them in the fabrication hall last year and it was good but the main reason we wanted to bring them back was because you know we’re kind of like we wanted our whole crew together. So I think that’s been better. You know so I don’t know it’s pretty exciting. And the filtration line is going really well.

Donovan: It’s doing great. Yeah. It’s great. So it’s it’s really great for us to be able to have that in-house. We have that quality and assurance over our own filters so we can make sure we’re just we’re just putting the best product out there like we do with everything else that that we have here at Imperial.

Jeremiah: Yeah for sure.

Donovan: So when we’re talking about the Sparks of Creation, are we going to have more videos coming out on that?

Jeremiah: Yeah we have another one in the pipeline right now that we’re about ready to release. You know a little little teaser on that. That’s Steve Bunyard from ReIgnite Hope and I think I think some people have seen some of the initial videos on that and you know he he basically started a mission called ReIgnite Hope on Skid Row. You know essentially what he was doing was he is a pastor you know trying to minister to those people on Skid Row and what he was doing is they were they would you know give them money give them food give them clothes you know try to help them but they would notice that like no matter what they did they would just end up back on the streets again. So you know his thing was is like you know after praying about it and trying to figure out what the best thing to do was you know he for whatever reason welding came to his mind he’s like what if we taught these people how to weld. Well he didn’t know how to weld but he found people that did. He cast the vision. They started to train people off Skid Row how to weld and now they’re certifying them within several weeks helping them get jobs and transforming their life. So he says I’m teaching them about Jesus and jobs. So like I mean Steve’s an awesome guy and you’re gonna see a new video coming from him here pretty soon.

Donovan: If you’re really interested in hearing more about Steve and what they’re doing over at Reignite Hope we did podcasts with him about a year ago so if you go back to last season yeah you can listen to that and Steve really gets into the details of how right they got started and where they’re at. They’re just continuing to grow and help and bless people with not just helping them with today but helping them change their life so that they can continue to be you know live a good life right not just not just giving you a meal but giving them – what do they say – teach a man to fish yeah he eats forever. So that’s that’s kind of that mantra.

Jeremiah: No he’s great and so and how Imperial Systems is involved with him is what we’ve decided to do is every mobile weld semi-trailer that they build we will supply a Shadow for every single one – the Shadow the ductwork the whole thing we take care of that as a donation to him and we’re going to continue to support his ministry for as long as he does it. I teased him yesterday I said I hope you’re not too successful because this could get expensive but you know no and in reality I hope they’re really successful and transform a lot of lives.

Donovan: Yeah that’s great so that those people can learn and learn in a healthy and safe environment where they’re doing that. That’s great. Well thanks for coming on. Thanks for giving us a minute Jeremiah. We appreciate it and if you guys are around this year at Fabtech, next year at Fabtech stop in. Say hi to us.

Jeremiah: Yeah come see us.

Donovan: See our artwork. See our new products.

Jeremiah: Yeah, it’s a fun booth this year I really like it it’s one of my favorites.

Donovan: It’s been a good time. Well until next time stay healthy and stay safe. Thanks for listening.

Jeremiah: Thank you Donovan.

Narrator: Thanks for listening to the Dusty Jobs podcast. Breathe better, work safer.

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