‘The team at Vekta was instrumental in the design of this system and were able to open our eyes to possibilities we didn’t know even existed.

The finished product has not only met, but exceeded our expectations. With the minimal footprint of the PackFeeder, the accuracy, speed and reliability of the Razer V5, the speed and efficiency of the Material Conveyor system, and the overall support by this team we are extremely pleased with the outcome.’

 Josh Wright

V.P. of Manufacturing, Truss Co. USA.

Traditionally, suppliers are selected through a bidding process. The standard transactional process has always conformed to goods and services for money. When the money is handed over, the relationship concludes.

In contrast, a partner provides a tailored business relationship based on mutual trust, openness, shared risk and reward. Partners often participate in product design processes, they are fluid, flexible relationships that depend on honesty and integrity to succeed. A partnership not only creates a competitive advantage for both parties but also a feeling of satisfaction and even excitement.

To tell you that you need a partnership when choosing a supplier for automated equipment for your truss and frame plant would be preaching to the converted. A liner saw, an automated jig or automated infeed system is not just a piece of machinery that is swapped for money and the relationship ends.  Training, service, and support are fundamental elements that create the partnership.

When automating an entire plant should the normal partnership rules apply? NO

Should you expect more? YES

In late 2019, Vekta was approached by The Truss Company (TTC) in the USA regarding options for automating a new plant they were building in Centralia, Washington State, USA. They already had a Vekta Razer V5 and were curious about what else Vekta could supply. The result, a partnership based on openness, mutual trust, shared risk and shared reward.

It all starts with OPENNESS, in other words- communication. From the start of the relationship, TTC were clear in their objectives for their plant- Highly efficient, high volume operation, built-in redundancy, safe and cost effective. TTC were also open about their concerns, both with Vekta and the approach. In return, Vekta was clear and open about what TTC should expect (the good and the bad) and pitfalls encountered in the past with such a factory approach.  However, with over 15 year of experience with these kinds of installation, Vekta was able to work through the concerns and come up with a solution that ticked all of the boxes.

Over the course of a few months, Vekta provided TTC with a number of layouts and proposals for automating their infeed, cutting and handling systems. The advantages and disadvantages of each proposal were clearly outlined and discussed. Revisions and alterations were made until a custom engineered solution that suited their factory, achieved all their objectives and was competitive in pricing was agreed upon.

The Solution:

  • 2x Razer V5 saws with P3 precision printers, each saw being fed automatically by its own PackFeeder.
    • The layout of the factory was selected to allow a single operator to easily operate both saws and both PackFeeders.
  • 1x Outfeed direct delivery system
    • Approximately 75m of conveyor with nine kickoff locations to service three primary jigs and one ancillary jig.
      • The size and position of the kickoff locations were carefully selected to ensure adequate component buffers while minimising travel distances for the jig operators.
      • Highly configurable kickoff rules were used to work out exactly where each component would be delivered – rules that were defined by the guys on the jigs themselves to make their jobs as easy as possible.
    • A buffering system to allow both saws to share the one common conveyor system.
    • To satisfy machinery redundancy requirements, a comprehensive spares package was used to ensure that any single failure  – mechanical or electrical – could be resolved within an hour with the parts already on site.
  • Custom software to ensure trusses were delivered in exactly the right order and in exactly the right orientation to minimize the effort and walking distances for the jig operators.
  • A customised safety system with direct collaboration not only between Vekta and TTC management, but also the saw and jig operators was implemented to ensure both compliance and useability.

Was there RISK involved? Definitely. Was TRUST needed – without a doubt! Even though the TTC had a prior relationship with Vekta, they still took a risk on a family business located in Perth, Australia during a global pandemic. They had to trust that Vekta would be able to engineer, manufacture and supply the equipment promised and that the equipment would work as described and planned. Vekta’s risk- taking engineering concepts and plans to a level that can then be manufactured, tested in house and then installed. Having faith that each measurement TTC provided was accurate, faith in our engineering and manufacturing capabilities. Having contingency plans in case our installers couldn’t actually leave Australia and New Zealand to see the job through.

But, with trust and risk comes REWARD! An installation that was overseen by Ed Serrano- Vekta’s Managing Director that was completed without a hitch and with minimal disruption to TTC’s existing operations. Vekta provides continuous support to TTC, adjusting settings and software to maximise the benefits of the system. TTC now enjoy a State-of-the-Art solution that gives them a clear competitive advantage over their competition.

For Vekta, the rewards are numerous- Engineers who spent months designing and creating a customised system have now seen those concepts and ideas come to life and in full operation. Pride for Vekta’s manufacturing team who have produced the products and know that they did a great job. The install team- six weeks of work on site during the US COVID pandemic and at the end of it- a very happy customer. A customer that has been so impressed that a second system has been ordered and expedited for a mid 2021 install.

The key to business success lies in the ability to select the right business partner for each business need. The Truss Company project in Centralia demonstrates what can be achieved when two companies work together in partnership. The key to automate an entire manufacturing line is the ability to choose the right business partner – and that partner is Vekta.

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