Category Archives: Uncategorized

TCA’s Annual Golf Tournament

TCA’s annual golf tournament tee’d off this September at Puslinch Lake Golf Course, offering employees an unforgettable afternoon of golf, camaraderie, and prizes.

Nine teams enjoyed the sunshine while they competed in a friendly best-ball game over nine holes.

Afterward, everyone gathered for a delicious dinner and the distribution of prizes. Whether you scored closest to the pin or simply had a great time, there was something for everyone!

Thank you to our suppliers for donating the prizes that made for an extra special day.

INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT: TCA + ASSEMBLY AUTOMATION

assemblyblog

The business of designing and building custom industrial equipment is a complicated, detail orientated, and exciting industry to be in. Over the past twenty years in business, TCA has developed thousands of innovative and groundbreaking technologies for our customers. From material handling and machine vision, to leak testing and composites, TCA has a wide portfolio of experiences to draw from when designing new equipment for our customers. This blog series will highlight some of our current and past projects where we advanced automation standards.

First up in this series spotlight: Assembly Automation

In manufacturing, assembly refers to the process of putting together all components and sub-assemblies in order to create the end product. Arguably the most in-demand type of automated equipment in industrial manufacturing, assembly automation will help customers reduce man-power, increase throughput, and maximize efficiency.

WIRE FORM AND ASSEMBLY
form-assblogDesigned and manufactured by TCA to produce concrete-forming ties, this 10′ x 25′ wire form and assembly machine has the capability to process wires with walls of 200, 250, and 400 mm, with a 1/2″ hexagon across the flats and 120 or 210 mm end lengths.
Offering high throughput operation, this machine features a hopper that holds up to 1,000 raw wires. TCA designed and built the 80 ton servo forming press to deliver highly accurate speed, motion, and position control in order to keep the parts within tight tolerances.

Two cold forming operations (coin & bead forms) are performed as a one-up forming cycle in the press. Dual thermal-upset hex form positioning slides are also servo-driven to maintain the same accuracies throughout the entire process. A chain conveyor moves the formed ties and stages the packaging boxes to further speed operations, and floor mounted perimeter guarding completely ensures operator safety.

TCA was able to design, build, test, and install this high speed automation system in 24 weeks. We provided a fully programmed Allen Bradley interface and PLC, and commissioned the system at the customer site.

SUB-ASSEMBLY LINE
sub-assblogA customer in the automotive industry needed a second assembly line to handle increased production volume.
TCA’s challenge was to use as much engineering as possible from the existing TCA-designed line so the two could efficiently run in tandem. Working from the customer’s part specifications, we created 3D designs for all the components and arranged the second line in a Z-configuration to facilitate loading and changeover. In addition, we designed a second flux supply line with a separate set of tooling to enable both lines to operate independently.
Occupying a 20 ft x 30 ft footprint, this assembly line has three main subsystems – a feeder, flux applicator, and a stacker. Handling 6 parts per magazine, 6-axis robots are used to feed the parts to a servo index conveyor for pick and place transfer – a careful process monitored by machine vision cameras.
Next, a dual-head spray system electrostatically applies the flux while a reclaiming system removes the excess. After air drying, the parts are fed to the assembly system, 2 per magazine in a nested position.

Want to learn more about TCA’s assembly automation solutions? Email info@tcatech.com today.

New Technology Fostering Growth in Horticulture

When many people think of farming, the image that comes to mind is a wide expanse of fields, a big wooden barn, and a tractor making neat little rows in the background. But as new technologies grow, the surface area of farms seems to shrink. In fact, many farmers no longer need the huge swaths of land commonly associated with horticulture, and can now grow food just about anywhere. Even aboard the International Space Station.

The Vegetable Production System (nicknamed Veggie) on the ISS grows food crops using a combination of LED lights, plant “pillows” that include a growth medium and fertilizer, and water. But unlike watering plants on Earth, where there’s enough gravity to bring water down into the soil, plants in space need wicks to be placed into their pillows/bags so the water gets where it needs to go without floating away.

While astronauts on the ISS have actually been growing crops since last year, this is the first time they were eaten onboard. The first round were sent back to researchers at NASA’s Kennedy Center to be sure they were safe for human consumption. Once they passed the tests on land, they went through more thorough testing (i.e. tasting) in space.

But why does it matter if crops can be grown on a space station when we have the resources to send up food as necessary? Well, as we’ve learned in the past, space research presents a unique opportunity to develop new technologies to make life on Earth better. Having a self-contained micro-environment allows scientists to really see how different variables like light and water accessibility impact the growth, nutrition, and taste of plants.

Vertical Farming Racks

Vertical farming at AeroFarms. Photo Credit Jodi Gralnick at CNBC

And the ISS isn’t the only place where the next big trend in horticulture is small. All over North America, vertical farming is picking up steam. This concept takes advantage of areas where height is more plentiful than open space, such as urban areas with high-rise buildings. Plants are stacked on shelving units, with artificial light evenly dispersed in each row, and just the right amount of water applied to each plant. Without having to worry about scavenging animals, unpredictable weather, or other outside factors, plants are able to grow efficiently all year round, and harvests are more bountiful.

Another benefit is less chance of spoilage. Whereas traditional crops often travel hundreds of miles to the nearest big-box stores, these crops are already in urban areas where the customers are. This means less shipping time and reduced waste and costs.

Growers can also keep costs down by automating more of the process, which is much easier in a vertical farm. AeroFarms is an example of new-age horticulture that will soon be using automatic conveyor belts to harvest plants, in addition to using an automated packaging process.

As new technologies and methods are adopted in horticulture, we look forward to seeing how they will improve food processing and growth. If you are developing your own vertical farm and require help setting up the infrastructure, we can design and manufacture custom automated equipment to suit your needs. Give us a call at 519-824-8711 to discuss your needs.

A Look At TCA’s Personnel

TCA Technologies Inc. has over a thousand systems installed in manufacturing plants worldwide, but none of that would be possible without our amazing staff. From top to bottom, our employees make TCA the successful company that it is. Here is an introduction to the senior staff who lead our outstanding goup:

David Nelson, President

Dave holds a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Waterloo and is a licensed Professional Engineer (P.Eng) in the province of Ontario.  In 1996 he co-founded TCA, and he has served as President of the company since that time.

A gifted designer, Dave has skills that have been enhanced by his hands-on background as a licensed Class A Automotive Service Technician.  He has developed mechanical systems, thermodynamic systems and machine control systems for a wide range of industries and applications, as well as analyzing and improving existing systems.

Under Dave’s technical leadership, TCA has developed a strong engineering group that contributes significantly to the company’s reputation as an innovative and dependable source for manufacturing systems and machinery.  His passion for his craft, personal integrity and ethical approach to business has earned the respect of customers, employees and suppliers alike.

Tony Davies, General Manager

Greenfield plant development in the USA, management of a European subsidiary, micro-enterprise development in West Africa, and corporate development and reorganization in Canada have all contributed to the depth of management and executive experience that Tony brings to TCA.  He has served on boards and in executive capacities with corporations, non-profits and associations.

With over 30 years of experience in the manufacturing and marketing sectors of the capital equipment industry and with education in finance, management and strategic planning Tony has brought disciplined financial management and a strong team approach to the management of operations at TCA since joining the company in 2004.

Nolan Loy Son, Sales and Marketing Manager

Nolan joined TCA in 2000 as Electrical Engineering Manager and subsequently moved into the Engineering Manager position with responsibility for all Mechanical, Electrical and Software Engineering.  He was then appointed Sales and Marketing Manager in 2010, where he leads the Sales & Applications group and directs the company’s marketing activities.

With over 25 years of extensive automation experience (including a number of years in the food, beverage and automotive industries) he combines technical excellence with a customer-centric approach.  Nolan is also a Certified Microsoft Professional and has executive responsibility for all IT functions at TCA.

Sal LeRose, Plant Manager

Though a newer member of TCA staff, Sal has over 20 years of extensive experience in manufacturing, design & testing of products and process equipment as well as a proven track record in the management of personnel and projects. Since joining TCA in 2011 Sal provides leadership to the project functions at TCA including Mechanical and Electrical Design, Controls & Software, Manufacturing, and Assembly & Test.

His years of experience in the automotive component manufacturing industry give him a unique perspective on the requirements of TCA’s customers.  Sal holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Waterloo and a P.Eng. designation.  Additionally, he is a Certified Energy Manager registered with the Association of Energy Engineers (USA).

Our presence in manufacturing plants around the world wouldn’t be possible without the hard work of our outstanding employees. These four senior staff are proud to lead the many people who make what we do at TCA possible.

Worldwide Customer Service

Here at TCA we work hard to take care of our customers. Our service has three elements that combine to form a superior support system.

1)      Customer Support – First and foremost we support our customers. Our service line is open 24/7, and we are able to answer in a variety of languages. We also have a number of our staff who are ready to travel at all times to our clients’ facilities in a matter of hours. Hungary, France, China, Mexico or anywhere else—we’ll be there.

2)      Product Support – We provide support for every system we manufacture. We offer warranties, replacement parts and wear parts. We also provide field service in two forms. In addition to facility visits, we can provide an implanted modem in the systems we build. This lets us log in remotely to see what’s going on with the system. Our clients explain to us what’s happening—or not happening—we see it in the software and we make the appropriate adjustments remotely, or we walk our clients through solving the problem.

3)      Production Support –We’re here to support our clients and keep them in production. We can provide preventative maintenance to make sure that equipment not only keeps running, but keeps running optimally. We can also provide training so that our clients can perform this preventative maintenance. We also offer equipment refurbishment and retooling.  Additionally, during the manufacture and testing of new equipment we are sometimes able to speed our clients’ product to market by providing limited production so that the product may be qualified and early marketing activities can begin

Our job is never done here at TCA. With every system we build we form a partnership. We’re here to support our clients and their systems in whatever way they need.

Prototyping for Production

Here at TCA, our mission is to fulfill the needs of our customers. A couple of weeks ago we posted some kind feedback we had received. We’d like to take a minute to talk about the process that made that project such a success.

The equipment we build here is top of the line. The prototype system we made for this client, meant only as a precursor to their finished system, was able to produce prototype product. That meant that they could send it off for testing and approvals before their final system was ready.

Once we had settled on the prototype machinery we started building the first production line. But the product coming out of the prototype machinery was of such high quality that we ran it two shifts a day for months to create our customer’s initial inventory. It meant that they got to market faster than if they had waited to start production until the first finished line was built.

Running production on the prototype unit was invaluable, giving us copious feedback to improve the first production line. And when the customer said that demand for their product would justify a second production line, we were able to repurpose much of the equipment from the prototype line. Overall our machines went to work faster, which got our customers’ orders out the door sooner. That meant savings in both time and cost, and a very successful project outcome.

Some Kind Words

We recently completed a major contract for machinery to manufacture a critical component for electric cars (EV).  The success of this equipment as well as the timeline for the manufacturer was absolutely essential.  Our customer was comfortable awarding this project to us because of their confidence in our development capabilities and our ability to meet the stringent timelines.  This project involved a complete development cycle from R&D through to a first production line and then multiple production lines.  The Director of Process Development for another customer (an international corporation in the construction components field) for whom we did a project involving an even more complex development cycle said the following:

“As you are aware [we] established an aggressive timeline for completion of this multi-million dollar project.  The challenges were diverse, including elements of product development, process development, manufacturing system development and supply. The ability of the TCA team to quickly prototype various manufacturing options and perform proof-of-principle trials was invaluable, both in terms of timeline and cost containment.  TCA’s capacity to provide a significant level of production from the prototype process allowed us to perform product and market tests as well as supply commercial product to support our early sales activity.  Additionally, your ability to remain flexible in the design/build process of the production line equipment allowed us to take advantage of what we were learning as we worked together to refine and optimize the prototype process.  The fact that all of these activities could take place side-by-side in the same facility with the same project team resulted in a synergy that provided a positive impact on our ability to bring this product to market in a timely and cost-effective fashion.  We are now in the final stages of bringing this project to a successful conclusion and … Without your help, we would not be where we are today …”

Conservation of Capital

When a customer brings us in to look at their production equipment, we have a choice to make: whether to upgrade existing systems or build entirely new ones. The driving principal here is the conservation of capital. And that number, the amount of money a customer is saving, is an outcome of cost balancing. That balance comes from comparing the initial cost to downstream efficiencies.

To put it simply: what’s going to cost less in the long run? Sometimes, rebuilding or retrofitting an existing system to handle a new product is cheaper than constructing an entirely new system. And sometimes, an upgrade is the right way to go. But many times, the increased cost of a new system will pay for itself. If conserving capital today means blowing it on higher operating costs in the future, that’s not the best option. Examples of this are when an upgraded system would have a longer cycle time, or an increased scrap rate, than a system designed from the ground up for the task it will be performing.

At TCA we can price both options out for you. We work out which system will be more efficient—and thus more cost effective—in the long run. It would be quicker and simpler to be a company that does one or the other—we could upgrade every system or build something new every time. But that wouldn’t result in what’s best for our clients. So we give you both options, and we find the solution that’s right for YOUR needs.