Radical Automation: Insights from The Global Leader for Industrial Automation Services

The Culture of Giving Back: A True Success Story

May 26, 2017 11:06:06 AM / by Julie Basello posted in Behind the Scenes at Radwell International, Brian Radwell, Business, Radwell International, hero story, Company President, giving back, Support, Community, Connect

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Like most companies, the story of Radwell International is one of humble beginnings. The company story began 38 years ago in Mount Laurel, NJ and has survived and thrived through many changes. Brian Radwell, too, has gone through his share of challenges, both personal and professional. To read the detailed story of Radwell, you can check out this blog post The Story of Radwell.

To truly understand the Radwell story, you have to understand a little bit about Brian Radwell's motivation, which stems from supporting his father who was the kindest man in the world according to many people within the company who knew him when he was alive. I had the rare opportunity to ask Brian Radwell a question about fear of failure and the family culture of giving back .

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HMI Systems: An Operational Cornerstone

May 16, 2017 4:07:10 PM / by Julie Basello posted in cost savings, engineering, Industrial Automation, maintenance, manufacturing, technology, Tips from the Warehouse, Quality Assurance, materials handling, streamlining, warranty, innovations, hmi, hmi repairs, hmi benefits, human machine interface

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In this day and age, human machine interfaces are everywhere. Think about every point of contact a human has with technology and it becomes a reminder that as humans, we interact with machines in just about every aspect of our lives today. Self-service checkout at the grocery store, plugging an address into your car’s GPS or getting some cash at the ATM are all examples of instances when humans interact with an interface designed to help foster human/machine communication.

As it applies to automation equipment in a manufacturing facility, human machine interface products offer the necessary electronics to easily control automation equipment in an industrial environment. HMI products can range from a simple design with basic screen controls to a more complex touchscreen with numerous features and windows. In most environments, whether for service oriented tasks or in an industrial environment, HMI systems must be resistant to dust, water, moisture, high or low temperatures and even chemicals.

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Gedevelop GFM System: An Overview

May 8, 2017 3:28:22 PM / by Julie Basello posted in Behind the Scenes at Radwell International, cost savings, engineering, Industrial Automation, maintenance, manufacturing, technology, Tips from the Warehouse, Quality Assurance, eco-friendly, materials handling, streamlining, warranty, innovations, Spindles, gedevelop, Insulation, Camera, gedevelop repairs, Fiber, GFM

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All over the world, manufacturers in the glass fiberizing and glass wool industry are interested in increasing the quality of their products. The Gedevelop GFM System is suited for this process. It works with glass flow and collects data in real time for optimum control of the manufacturing process. This system reduces material costs and shortens production downtime.

How exactly does this system work? The Gedevelop system uses a camera which looks at the glass stream and reads information for stream diameter and stream velocity. The information is then sent to the central unit and based on set parameters, calculates the glass flow. The glass flow meter continuously measures glass flow individually for each fiberizing unit and allows the pull to be controlled within .5%. It also checks that the quality of the glass stream is at the correct level and if it isn’t, the system can make adjustments. This glass flow meter is a
non-contact, optical measurement system that calculates the flow of molten glass that falls from the bushing into the fiberizer. Many installations worldwide have proven that glass flow measurement is a very profitable investment in a short amount of payback time.

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Cost Savings with CNC Spindle Drive Retrofits

Apr 24, 2017 10:30:22 AM / by Julie Basello posted in CNC, CNC Repair, cost savings, engineering, Industrial Automation, maintenance, manufacturing, technology, Tips from the Warehouse, Quality Assurance, Best Practices, solar power, eco-friendly, materials handling, streamlining, warranty, innovations, Spindles, Retrofits

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One of the repair services we provide for our customers at Radwell International is CNC spindle drive retrofits. This service is something that is designed to not only provide cost savings for our clients but also extend the life of a CNC machine tool without requiring an entire machine retrofit. We recently caught up with Mark Councilman, the CNC Sales Manager at Radwell International, based out of our Arlington, Texas location. Mark is a CNC Subject Matter Expert and has been working in the CNC area for 17 years. We had the chance to discuss a bit about CNC machines and how CNC Spindle Retrofits can save time and money for a manufacturing environment.  

What is your role at Radwell International?

My role as CNC Sales Manager is to develop & implement strategies for production, distribution, inside/outside sales, and marketing that position Radwell as a leader in the CNC support market. Currently, my day includes gathering information as I research the CNC market. Typically, I’ll review and validate current pricing on the website and process requests for CNC parts as they trickle in from ASM’s, ISM’s, and customers. I might reach out to Alan Gage with an opportunity for Radwell Verified Subs, and/or seek support from Todd Radwell for a list of parts that should be targeted for pre-certification. The facilities I worked in specialized in exchange and repair of motors, drives, power supplies, CRT’s, and control boards for the CNC market. That's how I came to be considered a subject matter expert in this area.

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Six Questions with Brian Janusz, Global Program Manager at Radwell International

Apr 4, 2017 9:58:17 AM / by Julie Basello posted in Behind the Scenes at Radwell International, Industrial Automation, PLC, Radwell Service Offerings, Quality Assurance, Autostore, Interview, PLCs, Brian Janusz, Global Program Manager, Material handling, mechanical engineering, project management, large building remodel

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 Brian Janusz is an interesting person. He has been central to the redesign and remodel of Radwell International's new headquarters building in Willingboro, NJ. When he wasn't hard at work on managing remodeling and material handling systems,  he has been working with other Radwell locations on expansion plans. Brian is busy: moving frequently and quickly through the 311,000 square foot Radwell headquarters building, easily gravitating from project to project with ease. We caught up with him recently to get a glimspe into his job at Radwell International. We had to walk really quickly to catch up.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to be at Radwell International.

My education background is in Mechanical Engineering and I graduated from Virginia Tech. My first job out of college was working as a Project Engineer for Bowen Engineering, a great construction company that builds and works on water treatment plants, waste water treatment plants and large utilities. It started off as a summer internship that turned into a full time job. I learned so much from the experience, mostly from the amazing people I worked with. They taught me about project management, people management and construction. It was a difficult job to leave because there was still so much to learn. That experience has helped me enormously, in what I do at Radwell International.

How I came to Radwell: During my freshman year at college I emailed Brian Radwell looking for a summer job. He directed me to Steve Wallace and I got a position helping out in production. That first summer I did anything and everything that was needed. I delivered manual recs, organized the order shelves, cleaned units, worked with speed line testing and approving parts for orders, picked in the warehouse and just generally learned

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Best Practices in Eco-Friendly Innovation for Manufacturing and Materials Handling Industries

Mar 28, 2017 11:32:26 AM / by Maggie Harris posted in cost savings, engineering, Industrial Automation, maintenance, manufacturing, technology, Tips from the Warehouse, Quality Assurance, Best Practices, solar power, eco-friendly, materials handling, recycling, streamlining, warranty, innovations

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For many manufacturers, the prospect of moving towards eco-friendly solutions and innovations such as renewable energy is very much front of mind; however, actually implementing the necessary changes is easier said than done. Luckily, as technology develops, and the appetite for carbon neutrality increases around the globe, there are many options for saving not only the bottom line, but the environment.

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Six Ways Radwell Verified Subs Can Change Your Life

Mar 27, 2017 4:12:17 PM / by Julie Basello posted in Industrial Automation, Radwell Service Offerings, Tips from the Warehouse, Quality Assurance, Radwell, Verified Subs, Parts, Replacements

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If you work in a manufacturing facility, we’ve got a product offering that can change your life. Sounds like a lofty promise, doesn’t it? Our answer is all about one of the most unique of our offerings at Radwell International: our Radwell Verified Sub Program. It is not something that is all that common to find among industrial automation service/parts providers. We get asked about this program all the time by customers who want to know what a Radwell Verified Sub is and how it can benefit them.

In simple terms, a Radwell Verified Sub is a high quality, new product replacement that can be substituted for the original manufacturer’s item at a significant savings.

If you work in a manufacturing operation, here are six ways that Radwell Verified Subs can truly change your life:

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8 Questions with Markus Schmidt, Swisslog's President of WDS Americas

Feb 8, 2017 10:33:11 AM / by Julie Basello posted in Behind the Scenes at Radwell International, Industrial automationPLC; Programmable Logic Contr, Radwell Service Offerings, Tips from the Warehouse, Material Handling Automation, Conversion to Automated Material Handling, Autostore, Interview, Markus Schmidt, Swisslog, Company President

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If you've been keeping up with the remodel of Radwell International's new headquarters building in Willingboro, NJ, then you know about the installation of our Swisslog Autostore. To read more about this revolutionary system, give Todd Radwell's blog post a read here. It was truly fascinating to watch the system being built from the ground up.

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Radwell-Indiana Shoots and Scores!

Jan 31, 2017 3:13:56 PM / by Julie Basello posted in Behind the Scenes at Radwell International, Customers, Driver, Industrial automationPLC; Programmable Logic Contr, motor drives, printed circuit boards, Radwell Service Offerings, technician, Tips from the Warehouse, Indiana, encoders, diagnostics, drives, hero story

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In many instances, large companies talk (and talk and talk) about the products and services they can provide for their customers. Millions of dollars are spent each year on marketing efforts designed to tell customers about all the wonderful products and services that are available to them as consumers. Often the talk can be much more appealing than the reality. I’m not going to lie: many times within our marketing at Radwell, we do share our many capabilities with our customers. However, our reality is something we are very focused on every day, in every department within our organization. The best way to discuss what Radwell International is really capable of is by sharing some stories straight from the field. We’ve decided to do just that, starting with a great hero story straight from Robert Tiedeken, our Branch Manager in Radwell-Indiana. Rob has been with Radwell International for 10 years this April. He was a career IT professional and started with Radwell as a Systems Administrator. He was promoted to IT Operations Manager and in this role, he worked on design and buildouts for Radwell-UK, Radwell-Canada, Radwell-Texas and Radwell-Indiana. An unexpected opportunity arose for him when he was asked to take on the challenge of being a Branch Manager in Franklin, Indiana upon it’s completion. He took on the challenge and has never looked back. Rob is a great leader for Radwell-Indiana and does a great job building his team and creating a sense of community both with his employees as well as his clients.

 

Here’s Rob’s Customer Story:

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Making the Move to Material Handling Automation: Five Lessons

Oct 24, 2016 2:00:08 PM / by Todd Radwell posted in Industrial Automation, Tips, How tos, Inventory Management, Material Handling Automation, Conversion to Automated Material Handling

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Todd Radwell, Senior VP of Operations and Engineering for Radwell International gives his insights for those considering a move to automation.
 
This post is shared from Swisslog blog where it was originally published
 

As we finalize our transition to automated material handling in our New Jersey hub, Swisslog asked me to share some of the lessons we learned in implementing our first automated picking system.

 First, let me provide a little background on Radwell and our move to automation. We sell new and surplus industrial automation, MRO, pneumatic, motion, electronic, hydraulic, HVAC and electrical control equipment for plant floor and facilities. We also have full component-level repair capabilities for all industrial electronic and electromechanical equipment, and buy new and used surplus for resale. Everything Radwell sells is covered by a two-year warranty and we have thousands of specialized test assets and hundreds of highly trained technical team members to assure products perform correctly. 

We have major distribution hubs in New Jersey and the U.K., with a third scheduled to come online in Texas in 2017. These hubs support the bulk of our product shipments and also include production facilities for repair. They are supported by a network of satellite facilities that focus primarily on repair and localized sales.  

Our need for automation was driven by business and product growth. Double-digit business growth created the need for increased throughput and a more efficient and scalable fulfillment solution.

We evaluated fourteen automation vendors before selecting the Swisslog AutoStore storage system. We chose AutoStore based on its flexibility and ability to meet our long-term business objectives.

Our New Jersey hub, which we chose for the first phase of the AutoStore deployment, wasn’t well suited to support automation so we had to first identify and acquire a new facility. We found a former pharmaceutical distribution center that met our requirements and spent most of 2016 tailoring this facility to our requirements, implementing the automaton system and migrating our inventory. The new hub facility came on line slightly ahead of schedule and within budget.

 

Here are the lessons we learned in the process of implementing our first automated picking system:

Use process optimization as a bridge to automation:

Our previous process used standard racking, mezzanine shelf structures and folding lid totes, with humans picking the order. We knew it would take a couple of years to find the right facility and make the transition to automation so we first evaluated our processes to see where we could make improvements. We found we could more than double our picking efficiency by moving to a zone picking scheme with a second order consolidation process.

Automation will more than triple the pick rates we are getting with manual zone picking, but this move bought us some time and allowed us to develop a realistic timeline for the transition to the new, automated facility without jeopardizing customer support.

Don’t trust the architectural drawings: 

Because we coordinated our automation implementation with the move to a new facility, we were developing plans for a facility that we had never occupied. The architectural drawings for the building were helpful in the early stages of planning but we quickly learned they weren’t precise enough to depend on for much more than that. You have to get out and measure actual distances on the floor rather than relying on drawings. When it comes to clearances and other issues, inches matter and we found several instances where, for example, the location of a support pillar was off by several inches in the architectural drawing.

By physically measuring the space before we finalized the plan, we avoided major problems and rework during the deployment. The same is true with electrical drawings. They can be helpful in the early stages but may not reflect changes made following construction and don’t show how lines are run through the building. You need to investigate to gain the understanding of the electrical and HVAC systems as they exist in the facility. The drawings did not contain that level of detail.

Expect the unexpected: 

Nothing ever goes exactly as planned. For example, we had an issue with a contractor not properly testing a control panel before it was shipped from their plant, which caused a delay. Fortunately, we were a little bit ahead of schedule in needing the power from this panel to power the AutoStore. The replacement disconnect switch arrived in time and was installed in the panel in time to keep us on schedule.

We planned carefully and had very few surprises, but once you get into a project you realize that there are always going to be things you didn’t plan for or issues you didn’t consider. Accounting for this in the timeline can prevent delays and missed deadlines.

If you happen to have one of those rare projects where everything goes exactly as planned, you come in ahead of schedule, which only makes you look good. Unless there is a hard deadline outside your control you’re working against, add some extra time in the schedule for unexpected events.

Know your competencies: 

We are an engineering company — that’s our core competency — so we made the decision to manage a good deal of the system integration ourselves. But we also recognized that our technical prowess is at the single-item level, so the integration of multiple conveyors, and IT systems into the conveyor control, was not something we did everyday. We had the knowledge but not the experience, so we needed to bring in outside expertise to fully leverage our own capabilities. We also relied on the experience and knowledge of Swisslog throughout the process. Companies that don’t have engineering as a core competency will have to rely more heavily on outside resources for systems engineering, but may have other competencies they can leverage during the implementation.
 
Find the visionaries:
Collaboration is key to the success of almost any project and we worked hard to foster collaboration across the executive team and between the executive team and middle management and front line personnel. This not only helps ensure your system design takes into account the input of the people using it, but also minimizes resistance to the new approach.

If you get lucky, you may even find some visionaries within your front line personnel. Those are the people who don’t just do the job they are told to do, but are always on the lookout for better ways to do their job. These visionaries can be extremely valuable during the design phase and we engage them in our planning process whenever possible.

 

In summary, we had a positive experience for our first implementation. Not that we didn’t experience some challenges — it would be unrealistic to expect a project of this scope to be executed without a hitch — but we felt prepared to deal with the issues that arose and never fell behind schedule. That’s largely because, we didn’t take any shortcuts in the planning process, selected Swisslog as our automation vendor, and fostered collaboration across all of the stakeholders in the project.

 I hope you have as good an experience as we did on your first — or next — automation project.

 Todd Radwell is Senior VP of Operations and Engineering for Radwell International and has 30 years of experience in purchasing, engineering, production, operations, sales and marketing. He studied industrial design before joining his father and brother at what would later become Radwell International. 

 

 

 

 

For more information about Radwell International, please visit Radwell International

To see more about Radwell International's journey to material handling automation, connect with Radwell International on Social Media

For information about Swisslog, visit Swisslog

 

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