Material-Handling OEM Looks to Building Custom Equipment

Material-handling equipment manufacturer Valley Craft, Lake City, Minn., recently introduced Ovation, its custom manufacturing service. Aimed at lean manufacturing environments, Ovation is helping manufacturers get materials to the right place on the manufacturing floor quicker and safer than using off-the-shelf material-handling equipment.

One benefit of Ovation is it involves the customer in the solution. “We invite the customer to be as involved in the design and solution development process as they want to be,” said Josh Smith, Ovation by Valley Craft engineer. “Frequently the customer has an idea about how to solve the problem but needs an innovative manufacturer to make his vision come to life.” Smith said the Ovation service walks customers through a process from creative ideation, with lean concepts in mind, to customized manufacturing.

Todd Hearsey, logistics manager at Vigon International, a Pennsylvania-based manufacturer and supplier of high-quality flavors, fragrances, and ingredients, said Ovation helped his company overcome its material-handling challenge. “One of our manufacturing lines required dispensing of materials into scale carts,” he said. “We wanted a mechanical answer that would smoothly handle the product and protect our people from undue lifting strain.” Working with Ovation, Hearsey said they were able to modify an air-powered lift with a drum rotator to meet specific requirements for the Vigon production line.

Other examples of specially made equipment include a custom portable lift that helps a large pharmaceutical manufacturer mix bulk compounds using an automatic system developed in partnership with Ovation. Its intended use was for eight to 10 times per day with up to 3,000 full rotations per day.

The pharmaceutical company required that the custom Roto-Lift to feature an automatic weighing system with digital readouts, heavy-duty continuous motor for a mixing operation, and a PLC used for controlling signaling cycle starts, stops, and rotation counts. It also has wash down-protected equipment, and Steel-It epoxy point and with food-grade oils and grease are also used on the unit. The Roto-Lift has a maximum lift capacity 500 pounds and can lift 55- or 85-gallon steel drums up to 92 inches. Other features include a heavy-duty continuous duty motor, automatic shut-off timer, emergency stop, variable speed control and low-profile 5-inch outriggers. Overall, the unit measures 40 inches wide, 116 inches tall, and 46.5 inches deep.

Additionally, Ovation has built a custom trailer for the manufacturing floor of a major air conditioner company to move sheet metal quickly and efficiently to work stations; and a drum-handling system to help prevent worker injuries at a water treatment company.