Trends in Manufacturing Assembly: Flexibility and Efficiency Top the List

Neil Bentley, Director, Product Line Management

In the last year, MagneMotion has seen an increase in awareness of and demand for modular, intelligent conveyor systems. One of the primary drivers behind this shift is the increasing need for flexibility in automated assembly processes. Manufacturers are interested in being able to assemble multiple products on the same line. The ability to provide relatively personalized combinations and options offers lower production costs and increased convenience for our clients and their customers.

The MagneMover® LITE (MM LITE™) intelligent conveyor system addresses these needs very well. Traditional technology and automation lines make it difficult to manufacture more than one product on a single line. MM LITE’s advanced control system and switching capabilities give manufacturers the flexibility to produce different products on the same assembly line increasing efficiency while decreasing costs.

A perfect example is MagneMotion’s customer Systematix, Inc. When designing a system for a medical device client, Systematix chose the MM LITE system because of its ability to assemble at least two devices without significant changeover time or labor input. In addition, MM LITE could execute the delicate assembly in an ISO 7 clean room with precision and reliability. Read the complete story here.

MagneMotion’s MM LITE intelligent conveyor system increases flexibility and efficiency in assembly automation applications allowing manufacturers to cost-effectively produce multiple products on a single line while maintaining the precision and reliability necessary in demanding applications. At ATX West in Anaheim, CA from February 9-11, 2016, visitors can experience this for themselves at booth #4411 where we will be showcasing the benefits of our intelligent conveyors for assembly automation.

For further information on our product line, visit

In the News: Modern Distribution Centers Require Cutting-Edge Automation Systems

by Larry Chin, VP Sales, MagneMotion

A recent article in Modern Materials Handling, found here , spotlights five distribution centers that are on the cutting edge of modern order fulfillment. These centers employ automation technologies including sensors, pick-to-light, and voice and ring scanners that work to meet the needs of a company’s go-to-business strategy.

MagneMotion’s customizable LSM systems, its ability to minimize factory footprints, and reduce TAKT time is a tremendous asset for DC’s moving in this direction, helping them fuel their company’s competitive advantage.

Read more about MagneMotion’s ability to meet these needs here and get more information at

In the News: Forbes Interviews Jabil Executive: Visioning Factories of the Future

by Larry Chin, VP Sales, MagenMotion

In a recent interview in Forbes, found here, Jabil executive John Dulchinos points to the increasing trend toward mass customization and short product lifecycles as key factors changing the face of industrial factory automation. At MagneMotion, we help manufacturers meet these needs with modular track components that can provide highly customized and flexible fulfillment systems.

Advancements in Technology Mean Lower Costs for Auto Manufacturers

by Rob Mosher

The automotive manufacturing industry has maintained a culture of continuous improvement. Auto manufacturers have consistently looked to new technologies to cut costs while producing products in line with the changing needs of consumers. A new advancement in auto manufacturing came in May, 2015 when Kuka Systems North America announced the commercialization of its Pulse carrier conveyance system for automotive car body assembly lines. The Pulse line offers many advantages to Kuka’s customers including 30% higher speeds, reduced assembly line footprint and reduced maintenance; all advantages that lower auto manufacturer’s overall costs. These reductions in speed, footprint and maintenance also have a positive impact on the environment by creating less waste and reducing energy consumption. The Pulse line allows manufacturers to produce up to four different models on a single assembly line. This translates into significant cost savings as auto makers add car models to accommodate consumer buying trends.

A key component of the innovative Pulse Line technology is MagneMotion’s Linear Synchronous Motors, specifically QuickStick HT (link to HT page) which is MagneMotion’s latest addition to the QuickStick line. QuickStick HT is a heavy duty, high thrust motor perfect for automation applications like automotive or truck and bus assembly lines, paint booth applications, and other large product manufacturing operations. Due to the strength of these motors, they can also be used in applications where the motor operates at a relatively large distance from the carrier or vehicle it is moving. Glovebox and cleanroom applications, where the motor and all active components operate outside the chamber and only the vehicle and magnet array are inside the chamber, and extreme applications, like underwater, all benefit from QuickStick HT’s robust design.

With companies like Kuka and MagneMotion creating new paradigms in automation, the automotive industry, and others, can continue to offer consumers products that meet their needs while reducing manufacturing costs. You can read the complete press release on the commercialization of Kuka’s Pulse Line Technolgy here.

America’s Most Automated Lab

by Peter Mattila, MagneMotion

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting one of MagneMotion’s premier customers, ARUP Laboratories in Salt Lake City. ARUP has long been a pioneer in using automation in their clinical reference lab under the guidance of Dr. Charlie Hawker. They began using automation two decades ago and most recently have adopted MagneMotion’s MagneMover® LITE (MM LITE™) intelligent transport system as the backbone of their tube conveyance solution in the lab.

The visit last week was partly to honor Dr. Hawker, who is retiring after more than 20 years of service to ARUP. The new MM LITE system, which is massive and consists of over 400 motors and 400 pucks (for carrying the samples in tubes), will stand as a testimonial to Dr. Hawker’s vision for the future of lab automation for years to come. Dr. Hawker believes that ARUP is the most automated lab in the U.S. and he is probably correct.

Tubes arrive at ARUP via courier truck in boxes, some packed with dry ice, and are processed by lab technicians who label them with a barcode and introduce them to the system via a short stretch of conventional conveyor. They quickly reach the highly automated part of the process which involves removing the tube from the traditional conveyor, reading the barcode, placing that tube on an MM LITE puck and “binding” (or marrying) that barcode to the vehicle identification number provided automatically by the MagneMotion control system for the puck doing the transporting. From here the known sample, on the known puck, is quickly transported on an LSM superhighway to one of ten robotic sorters and/or one of three thaw/mix stations depending on the type of sample and test to be run. Later in 2015, four of Dr. Hawker’s latest invention, an automated camera system that uses optical character recognition to identify mislabeled specimens, will be installed on LSM branches so that each tube can be inspected to assure that it was correctly labeled. Thanks to MagneMotion’s control system ARUP has constant chain of custody, always knowing the exact location and status of every one of the hundreds of tubes in the system at a given time. The tubes are robotically picked from the pucks at sorters and automatically grouped into racks based on the designated tests that are prescribed for that particular sample.

With tens of thousands of tests conducted per day it is easy to see why automation is a key ingredient for success at ARUP. The new system is about to “go live” and the folks at ARUP believe they will double their capacity for tests run on a daily basis in the same floor space used by the prior automation components. Stayed tuned for whitepapers on this topic coming in the near future. And thank you Charlie Hawker for being a lifelong champion of automation in the clinical lab!

Lean Transport – an Oxymoron?

by James Mueller, Senior Account Manager, MagneMotion

For years, proponents of lean systems have touted the benefits of one-piece flow using U-shaped cells with all their flexibility, scalability and cost advantages. The idea is to eliminate in-process waste and therefore improve quality, reduce space and reduce inventory. All of these are good and noble tasks, the popularity of which seems to increase when manufacturing demands are low. However, as production demands increase, the people inside these U-shaped cells are replaced with robots and automatic feeders. The end result is a suboptimal piece of automation that would have been more efficient and cheaper had engineering the foresight to design and build a complete, turn-key line with continuous flow.

The challenge lies in the basic conflict between automated transport and the “Lean” philosophy of one-piece flow. Whether it’s a belt conveyor, plastic chain conveyor or indexer(s), the operations of these systems are inherently “non-Lean”. They are adding no value to the part being assembled or processed.   They simply move product from point A to point B. As a result, most engineers in an attempt to satisfy their resident Six-Sigma Black Belt, choose the cheapest possible transport… or none at all.

But what if transport could actually improve production. What if your transport system was “intelligent”? Imagine the possibilities if your indexer or conveyor could:

  • Be asynchronous so that every part could be commanded individually
  • Back up and repeat a process that didn’t go well
  • Start indexing 3 at a time in the middle of a sequence to handle longer cycle times
  • Vary the index distance to accommodate large integrated machines
  • Vary to stop positions to accommodate part variants
  • Speed up a particular part because the next station is ready
  • Actually serve as an axis of motion for a particular process

If it could do all that, perhaps the term “Lean Transport” would no longer be an oxymoron.

MagneMotion has made this a reality with LSM transport technology. LSMs are Linear Synchronous Motors and these, combined with our state-of-the-art software, allow you to deliver fire-and-forget commands from any PLC or PC to non-powered pallets. The pallets are equipped with magnets to allow for propulsion with our LSMs. The LSMs are linked together with serial communication to allow an endless amount of transport layout options. The result is asynchronous control of in-process parts with complete traceability and speeds up to 2.5 meters/second. Floor space is decreased, in-process parts are reduced and throughput goes up dramatically (typically 20-30%).

Choosing LSM technology for transport has proven to be the best value to hundreds of our clients who were looking for efficient, high-throughput solutions while not sacrificing the inherent benefits of a proper “Lean” Philosophy (reduced waste/inventory/space, increase flexibility/scalability/quality). It’s a fact: transport can be Lean… as long as it’s smart.