Small Jonesboro company on cutting edge with robotics

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - There is a lot of industry in Region 8 from big manufacturers to small one person shops.

S-M-E or Specialty Machinery & Equipment, Incorporated has been around for nearly 20 years working with the manufacturing companies in the area to fix problems.

"Almost everyone employed here is either an engineer by trade and profession or has a technical background in either machine shop fabrication or assembly." Says company president Chris Childers. Childers is president of EMG (Efficiency Manufacturing Group). His small band of engineers and technicians can really be called innovators.

Skipper Rose, "They give me a plan and we kind of all sit down and brainstorm and go from there on what particular electrical components we use and things like that."

In other words "Skipper" who also is the plant manager moves the manufacturing process from a 3-D drawing, through the machine shop to the finished product.

Childers told me that companies will call him in to analyze and see if a way they are doing things can be improved.

"Anybody that perhaps needs help with automation of a process or a particular product. We can step in and provide ideas and solutions." Childers says.

If you have ever worked on a palletize line at a factory you know it can be a tough, back breaking experience. A year stacking boxes of frozen potatoes at a french fry manufacturing made me appreciate the machine bolted to the floor of the building. A local company wanted a robot at the end of a packaging line.

It will stack boxes which weigh about 50 pounds onto a pallet which means humans don't have to do this. Each pallet will have around 200 boxes.

Childers says this system is actually 3 in 1, starting with a refurbished 6-axis robot.

Childers, "With that robot, we have designed and built all the conveyor system, the pallet handling and the pallet discharge system."

He says they try to use American made materials and what is available locally.

Childers showed me several locally familiar names on the system. "We have several items on this particular system that have come from manufacturers within a hundred mile radius of Jonesboro."

Like any robot, this one had to learn stack patterns for each product. There were about 20 it had to learn taking about half a day each. The robot doesn't have fingers it has suction cups.

Rose, "You tell the robot vacuum on and move to a particular place on the pallet and vacuum off and come back and get another one."

Hi tech solutions for local manufacturers problems, solved locally.

Childers, "It can include pick and place systems. It can include robotics, conveyor systems and actually custom built prototype machinery that perhaps doesn't even exist right now, we can actually design, build and install right now."

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