A premier postal sorting machine OEM in the northeastern United States has developed a machine to automatically sort irregularly sized mail items that traditionally have been sorted by hand. Representatives from Minarik Corporation (part of Kaman Automation, Inc.) and Applied Motion Products began working with the OEM early in the design stages, providing guidance on motor sizing and selection as well as prototype units for research and development purposes. Today the OEM has moved into production with the design, having already shipped several machines, and the StepSERVO integrated motors that have been implemented in the design are performing excellently, with more than 2000 motors in the field so far.
A Long Sales and Design Cycle
Four years ago Joe Ronan, a seasoned salesperson from the Minarik office in New England, made an auspicious sales call to a postal sorting machine OEM in his territory. Little did Joe know at that time what he was in for. Automated sorting machines for postal services around the world are sophisticated pieces of machinery. They handle large amounts of mail at very high speeds and with very high accuracy. The application in question was more complex, though, because the mail pieces being sorted were oversized and irregularly shaped, making them hard to sort with contemporary machines. Up to that time these large, irregular mail pieces were typically being sorted by hand, a process that was too time-consuming, costly, and prone to errors.
In addition to finding a motion control solution for these mail pieces that were difficult to sort, the opportunity posed other challenges. There were several different engineering teams working on the project, some of them starting at different times, and the teams were spread across two continents. For many salespeople a very long and challenging sales cycle like this can prove to be too much, but thankfully, Joe proved to be ready for the challenge. He also had a reliable vendor with an innovative line of integrated motors in his corner.
A Successful Machine Design
The final machine, which is working in Europe today, is over 300 feet long and utilizes more than 160 StepSERVO closed loop integrated motors per machine. The StepSERVO motors provide a vast improvement over the engineering teams’ first choice of a conventional stepper system, with greater torque that permits ejecting mail pieces into their respective sorting bins within a very aggressive window of time of just 120 milliseconds. Additionally, the StepSERVO motors run cooler and quieter than their conventional, open loop counterparts, which many of the engineering teams fully appreciated.
A lengthy, complicated design process for a truly innovative machine like this requires frequent and regular support from all involved. Minarik and Applied Motion collaborated closely on both commercial and technical issues, ensuring that the customer got the performance they needed at the right price. This last piece was complicated when the final stages of the design phase and the production phase of the project moved from the US to Europe. The collaboration between Minarik and Applied Motion continued in spite of this difficulty, and the two companies continue to work together to maintain the high level of support and service the OEM has come to expect.
Decades of Collaboration
Minarik Corporation was the first authorized distributor for Applied Motion Products, with the contract being signed way back in 1990. Now part of the Kaman group of companies, Minarik offices around the US continue to be a valued part of the sales and distribution network for Applied Motion Products.
Applied Motion Products thanks our partners at Minarik, Kaman, and our other distribution partners around North America for their continued collaboration with us on interesting and challenging projects.