Acieta LLC gives its clients more value with its robots and added services.
By Alan Dorich
Some might fear unforeseen complications when it comes to implementing robotic technology, but Acieta LLC strives to make things simple. “We want it to be easy for customers to do business with us,” Service Manager Tim Rademaker declares.
“We simplify the process of doing business with us,” he continues. “We believe that our approach is a key differentiator from other robotic integrators.”
The company, with locations in Pewaukee, Wis., and Council Bluffs, Iowa, has installed more than 4,000 robotic systems throughout North America. These include robotic systems used in the agriculture, construction, oil and gas, mining, general industry, and automotive markets.
Rademaker says there are some misconceptions about industrial robotics. For one thing, all of those installs do not lead to a net reduction in human workers, he asserts. “We want the customer to be able to take those people and use them in better places,” he says. “This allows for companies to meet growth demands where new employee resources are not always available.”
Acieta’s success depends on its most important resource: its clients, Rademaker says. “Without customers, we don’t have a business,” he states. “When they are successful, we are successful.”
When Acieta takes an order from a customer, it both designs and integrates the system into their operations. “But after the sale is when the real support starts,” Rademaker comments.
“We help them maintain the system and maximize [its] life, efficiency and uptime,” he says, comparing it to the process of buying a car. “It’s great to drive it off the showroom lot when it is new and shiny.
“But after a year, if the car is giving you mechanical issues, it’s not what you bargained for when you purchased it,” Rademaker continues. “We want to make sure we give you the recommendations and support up front to avoid those issue altogether and cover you in the event of a problem.”
That support includes being a one-stop shop to customers and being there when Acieta is needed. “If they have an issue, they can pick up the phone and call us,” he says, noting that the company is available 24/7.
“We also have a one-hour guarantee in place,” Rademaker continues. “If you leave us a message, you’ll hear from us within an hour, [even if you] call day or night.”
Acieta’s clients can rely on it for technical support and parts. “We’ll look up what sensor you need, tell you the price for it and the availability,” he says.
Instead of its clients having to maintain a database of vendors, “We’re going to take care of that for you,” Rademaker states. “We don’t want clients to have to spend their time trying to find these parts.”
Acieta also will dispatch a technician to a customer facility if phone support cannot resolve the issue first. Generally, arrival on-site occurs within 24 hours of this determination or sooner depending on customer locale. “We understand that our customers have their own customers depending on them for on-time production so any downtime event is given top priority at Acieta,” he says.
Service contracts can offer the perfect solution for a customer’s need once the robot is installed and in production. It eliminates the need to track when PMs are due and allows for regular monthly visits all at a convenient, cost effective rate. Warranty extensions can also offer customers added protection from unexpected repair costs.
Some may find the transition to using robots jarring, but Acieta can ease clients into the process through training. “We have a fully dedicated training lab where we have robots that are used for nothing but training,” Rademaker says.
The company offers four classes, which include basic robot training that work well for people who “have never touched a robot,” Rademaker says. “They can learn how to write basic programs and gain confidence interacting with the teach pendant and robot operation.”
Acieta also offers two advanced courses, which train on using robots that have welding capabilities or that use vision through “a camera that works in conjunction with the robot,” he describes. “We also have maintenance classes twice a year.”
Not only do the classes teach about how to care for the robot, but also train users on what to do if something goes wrong. After taking the courses, “They’re not going to be able to fix everything,” Rademaker admits. “But it’s really about getting a comfort level on how these things are put together and what to look for if a problem does arise.”
Through education, customers can provide better regular care, he asserts. For example, if Acieta’s clients were to change the grease in a robot incorrectly, “You could create a buildup of pressure in the internal cavity of the robot which could lead to a seal failure creating other problems if not detected or corrected timely.”
Acieta provides custom training as well. ”If the customer says, ‘We would really like to come in and specifically train about our cell,’ they can bring in their programs for us to simulate in the training environment,” he describes.
Acieta can also travel to its clients’ locations. ”Sometimes it works better to go right out to the customer’s facility and help them run production,” Rademaker says. “A week on-site is very affordable if they have the ability to train multiple operators on multiple shifts.”
Acieta also develops operator manuals for its clients, Rademaker says. But they focus more on operating a cell with the robot, as opposed to just the robot itself, he notes. Robot manual information is included with each robot from the manufacturer (FANUC).
“Robots can be integrated with many different ancillary pieces of equipment including conveyors, machining centers, grinders, welders, etc.,” he says. “The robot is generally the centerpiece of a production cell.”
Rademaker joined Acieta in April 2015, but has worked in the industry for more than two decades. “What drew me to the company is that I’ve always enjoyed working with automation, because of the variety of customers and applications that we deal with,” he describes.
“We’re totally a custom application solution company,” Rademaker asserts. “Very rarely are two machines the same but we can leverage successful concepts and design parameters where applicable.”
Acieta will continue to grow as more customers realize the competitive advantages of robotic automation, he predicts. “This is a perfect solution,” he asserts.
“We can automate certain parts of your process or the entire line,” he says. “Flexibility is one of the biggest advantages that these types of systems can offer our customers.”