While we returned our graphics department back to Liberty Street in Winston-Salem earlier this year, our large-scale fabrication remains just a short drive down southbound HWY 52 in Welcome, North Carolina.
Not long after our move, Think-PLC, an automation consulting business for high-value control systems, was one of two companies to set up shop in a portion of our former headquarters (just a few steps away from our fab shop). Not only have we enjoyed working next door to the folks at Think-PLC, but we have also had a unique opportunity to collaborate with them on a number of projects.
“It started off with an email and a handshake and has turned into a cohesive partnership where we have married capabilities that maybe one company doesn’t have without the other,” said Bobby Cole, the owner of Think-PLC.
Recently, Bobby and his team were tasked with designing a specialty part that would help one of their clients, a major bedding manufacturer, increase the accuracy of their parceling conveyor belt.
Inefficiencies in the packaging portion of this manufacturer’s process led to mistakes that drew factory workers away from their intended posts and required manual correction. Having to interject this process with manual labor not only led to longer production times and lost revenue, but it was also unsafe.
Think-PLC’s solution was the creation of a part aptly named the “Dynamic Fold Positioner.“ The positioner uses a laser to sense the exact edge of a mattress (whether it be a king, queen, full, or twin size) so that it can be folded down to a precise size and seamlessly packaged into a box without the intervention of manual labor.
Once the positioner had been drafted, Bobby approached Michael Tennyson, our Director of Fabrication, and asked if we could manufacture the part’s metal fixtures.
We ended up using our Omax waterjet to cut a 55” long plate for the base (Fig. 1) and two 5” long plates to create a sensor holder and cable carry bracket (Fig. 2). All three of the plates were cut from 6061 aluminum and ranged from ¼” to ½” in thickness.
After leaving the waterjet, eight holes in the base plate had to be counterbored, four holes in the sensor holder and cable carry bracket had to be tapped, and three holes in the same bracket had to be drilled and tapped on an edge.
Once each plate had been machined, Michael and Bobby checked the fit of everything and assembled the final part.
“After we generated build-to-print drawings, Michael was able to suggest materials and mechanical changes that we needed to meet the deadline, and was willing to put in the hours to make it happen without any pressure from our end,” said Bobby. “In the end, a bedding manufacturer that makes upwards of $150 million a month was improved and saved by machine enhancements completed by our two companies.”
So what comes next in our relationship with Think-PLC?
We are excited to say that both JKS Incorporated and Think-PLC are making investments in new equipment and resources that will open up additional opportunities for collaboration and allow us to work more efficiently together.
“It’s becoming a family unit,” said Bobby. “We’re teaming up to grow our businesses and learn with one another.”