Grote Industries product development engineer Edward Sitarski had more than a good idea when he proposed automating manual terminal connector LED production. He had a manufacturing breakthrough. That breakthrough earned Sitarski, the project lead engineer, the Employee Involvement Association's Individual IDEA of the Year Award for 2007.
EIA's Annual Awards Program focuses on outstanding ideas of the year and leadership of employee involvement and suggestion systems programs. Approximately 250,000 ideas are submitted each year from companies globally. Sitarski's idea bested 90 finalists for the win.
The EIA was impressed with several features of the robot cells: non-contact soldering methods, vision system robot orientation, plug-n-play hardware interchange, advanced process monitoring, product testing, and quick-change capabilities. Those capabilities allowed Grote to manufacture a multitude of different inventory part numbers at these stations, with changeover taking less than five minutes. Most importantly, the EIA was surprised with the numerous manufacturing challenges and innovative processing technology associated with the automated cells. The technology was so innovative the project was partially funded from a State of Indiana Grant under the Advanced Energy Technologies Program.