Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Are your valves performing as well as other valves? Here's how to tell.

"There's an App for That"

TLD Software Compares Valve Performance

Valve performance can make a significant difference in your application. How do you compare and measure it? 

The sales engineers at FPE Automation all have a useful application in their arsenal of evaluation tools, to do just that. It's called TLD

Today at FPE Automation, Sunset Hills, MO: Steve Carrera,
Cody Schmelzle and Kurt Vaeth work in the pneumatic
lab using the MAC TLD app.
With TLD, you can read scope traces and plot valve performance. It gives you application-critical data. Even milliseconds can count, in big ways. Are there other valves on the market that are faster than yours? Let the data determine the results, so you can have peace of mind that this particular aspect of your operations is as optimized as possible. 

You can learn more about TLD software here. If you would like an on-site test, reach out to FPE Automation to schedule. 

Thursday, May 5, 2022

An independent energy audit recommends MAC Pulse Valves and FPE Automation's Art Gesell wins Distributor of the Month

Congratulations to FPE Automation's Art Gesell - MAC Valves Distributor of the Month award winner! 

This story begins with an independent contractor who was hired to do an energy audit for a large, local plant. The contractor was familiar with MAC pulse valves, and their reputation for energy savings and efficiency. 

Art Gesell has been working with engineers at this particular plant, a large manufacturer of glass bottles, for quite some time on other projects. 

As part of the energy audit, the contractor asked Art to present MAC pulse valve technology. Art did a demo using the MAC pulse valve animation and pulse valve demo case for the group. They were impressed with the technology.

"The contractor was familiar with MAC pulse valves, and their reputation for energy savings and efficiency."

The contractor works often with the local energy company in Illinois on energy-saving projects. If a certain amount of energy can be saved, the energy utility will reimburse the cost of the components. That had a big impact on the ROI of the project to the customer. 

After initiating a plan with the customer, Art and FPE Automation's Scott Massie (FPE MAC Valve Specialist) installed the first nine PV03 valves. After they ran for a few months, the customer was so impressed with the cleaning pulse, lack of maintenance issues, and no leakage, that they decided to change over the entire batch house, where the extremely fine glass powder is very tough on diaphragms and filters.

The next step was to come in and audit this area of the plant. Justin Yochem (MAC Project Engineer) joined Art and Scott on the audit. They are replacing 74 additional valves in the batch house. Later, the group was then informed that there are another 83 pulse valves in the mold shop and machine repair area that they would like to swap out. 

MAC pulse valves: efficiency and savings that speaks for itself. 

Monday, May 2, 2022

This month: Packaging machinery gets a reboot, and FPE Automation gets recognition.

Robotic Advances in the Packaging Machinery/OEM Vertical

By: Sandia Harrison

This month, FPE Automation is happy to announce more wins on PHD Incorporated's Top Performer Award list than ever before. FPE made the list a record-setting eleven times!

Packaging machinery manufacturers are a big part of this sudden surge in award-winning innovations. I interviewed my colleague, FPE Automation's Joe Judge, an instrumental member of the team behind these engineering advances in the packaging vertical. Here's what he had to say.

"PHD's robotic end-of-arm-tooling (EOAT) was used on high-speed industrial robots. We know that packaging machinery has evolved, and is evolving. Robotics solved some pain points and made the processes more efficient. These new innovations represent next-generation packaging equipment. The solution included both standard and custom products."

Packaging Equipment 

Engineering has to meet certain, strict criteria to be award-winning. This solution certainly did.

This manufacturer was creating robot cells, with two robots per cell. However, the initial gripping tooling wasn't performing well. 

FPE Automation presented PHD's EOAT as a solution. We were able to document that it would:

  • Be more reliable
  • Last longer
  • Come with a warranty
  • Feature easy-to-use sizing tools and other product advantages
  • Be available without extensive lead times

According to Joe, there were slightly-lower cost options out there, but the customer ultimately selected PHD because the EOAT, which is such a critical part of the process, performed reliably, in addition to all of the above advantages. 

If OEM machinery is your business, we'd like to help you optimize, modernize, streamline and work more efficiently. There has never been a charge for an assessment. Feel free to reach out to us with your thoughts. We'll discuss your ideas and concepts with you and come up with a plan. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

As businesses struggle with labor shortages and supply chain constraints: What is the FPE Automation advantage?

Why trust FPE as your industrial automation partner? 

Don't automate to survive.
Automate to thrive.

Trust FPE Automation.
Here's why. 


Have you found that virtually everyone in our industry has a tendency to talk up their technical expertise? This is for a few reasons. First and foremost, automation demands it. Solutions need to be effective and precise. Accomplishing that takes a great deal of technical prowess. You can't afford to place your trust in a partner who will not come through for you. There is too much at stake.  

However, if you have ever started to dig deeper into some of the companies out there peddling solutions like these, sadly, you may have discovered thin market coverage & job vacancies, inexperienced employees, too-heavy reliance on partner support, and not enough in-house expertise. Industry is changing. Too often nowadays, there are too many questions... and too few answers. 

Not at FPE Automation. We have an entire team of expert engineers ready to assist you. Companies that can say the same are few and far between. 

We like to say we "live and work in the community we serve". The best part about this outstanding team? They're local to you, and have the ability to stop by and help.


Supply chain headaches are nothing new, and today's manufacturing landscape is more difficult than ever to navigate. 

While FPE Automation can't singlehandedly solve a global problem, we can tell you that we have been a stocking distributor since 1963. SCARA, 6-axis and Collaborative Robots are in stock and ready to ship at FPE Automation today. This alone sets us apart from the competition. 

Friendly, Helpful Staff

Even with recent growth and the addition of several new team members, FPE Automation is able to boast an incredible average of 11.4 years on the job. We have a whopping 25 individuals who have been employed at FPE for 10 or more years! Our team makes FPE Automation a great place to work. Our low turnover means you're not a stranger. Our people can get to know your people... and your business. 

Flexible programs designed for you

At FPE Automation, we recognize that a cookie-cutter approach to automation is usually a recipe for failure. No two companies are alike. We discovered long ago that a true partnership means leveraging your strengths, as well as ours. Take a look at our Handshake Solutions concept. Put simply, it places the options in your hands. 

Why is this a successful, growing area of our business? Simply put, it is what you require to get automation projects successfully off the ground. What is it? Our goal is for Handshake Solutions to be exactly what you need it to be, no more and no less. For the latest, catch what's trending at:  #fpehandshakesolutions

World-class products

It may go without saying, but this write-up wouldn't be complete without the highest accolades to the manufacturers that we call valued partners. All the expertise in the world won't matter if products are sub-standard and fail. FPE Automation is proud to have established award-winning, long-term partnerships with brands you trust.

Award-winning performance

Let's face it: in engineered applications, sales-y talk is cheap. Success is entirely based on measurable results. We know this. Our customers know it too, and so do our supplier partners. 

In our industry, awards are given only for real accomplishments. We have received virtually all of our industry's top awards, some of them multiple times. While a trophy or plaque might not be important, everything it symbolizes certainly is. 


We're local in our roots. Our friends and family live, work, shop, and go to school in the area. FPE Automation understands the importance of giving back. We have ongoing programs to help foster engineering talent in our region. Our outreach is mainly focused on students. We also work with veterans, local villages and towns, and several non-for-profit organizations committed to education, Federal grants, funding, and jobs in the region. Follow #fpegivesback for more. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

The Wrong Gripper Can Cause the Entire Application to Fail: Spotlight on PHD Precision Grippers

Spotlight on PHD Precision Grippers: 

This month, PHD Inc. recognized FPE Automation for their efforts in three separate applications. One was the manufacturing of large, heavy items. Another involved robot cells and pick and place. The part was small in this instance, the robots were picking up castings. The third was in the packaging machinery sector. 

"Even when everything else is engineered to perfection, the wrong gripper can cause the entire application to fail."

You may ask, what do these processes have in common? They're as different as they can be. The answer: each has a crucial need for precise gripping.

Precision gripping is an area where the experts at FPE Automation, using PHD's superior products can, quite literally, help you to "get a grip" :-)

We know, there are a lot of players in this market space. However, when accuracy and reliability are key, the list becomes very short. PHD Inc. is on that shortlist. They can deliver precision grippers for applications large and small.

Don't let slip-ups be the weak link in your engineering chain. Rely on PHD so that you can have confidence that your parts will be handled as you intended them to be. 

Friday, March 4, 2022

SCARA, 6-axis and Collaborative Robots Are In Stock and Ready to Ship at FPE Automation

Are long lead times getting in the way of your automation plans? 

Ideas can only become a reality when the items you order arrive at your door. With global supply chain delays, it's great to know that FPE Automation has robots in stock and ready to ship to you. • Collaborative Robots: In stock at FPE Automation. • SCARA Robots: In stock at FPE Automation and at the factory. Starting $7,895 with controller. • 6-axis Robots: In stock at FPE Automation and at the factory. Starting at $14,595 with controller. FPE Automation is offering peace of mind in more ways than one, during these uncertain times.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Fixed Scanning and Machine Vision: Zebra's Groundbreaking New Approach

New Devices Are Revolutionizing Fixed Scanning and Machine Vision

With demand for manufacturing production, quality, and supply chain performance at all-time highs, there’s some good news on the way with a big change in the world of industrial automation.

More than ever, companies need to boost high-quality output and do it as efficiently as possible, with minimal labor. Thankfully, it’s getting a lot easier due to a major shift in fixed scanning and machine vision technology.

 Historically, manufacturers and other industrial operations have used fixed barcode scanners, imagers, and machine vision cameras to automate data capture and visual inspections. Instead of relying on labor-intensive and error-prone manual scanning or inspection processes, scanners and cameras can capture data and images automatically, for everything from component traceability and high-speed sorting to visual inspections for packaging validation, assembly checks, and ensuring that products are free from contamination or defects.

However, there’s often been one major obstacle to realizing the benefits of fixed scanning and machine vision, and that’s complexity.

 Setting up fixed industrial scanners or machine vision cameras and configuring them to capture the right data and images under the right conditions has often required multiple hardware platforms and multiple devices with multiple software applications to learn. This typically adds up to more time, more cost, and more effort to get these industrial automation solutions up and running.

For example, you might need to deploy and mount multiple scanners at the same production stage to capture multiple barcodes on the same target, especially in difficult lighting conditions or at varying angles and distances. Or you might need to buy a completely different set of hardware with differing software to add machine vision image capture and analysis to your processes.

But all of that is changing with Zebra’s entry into the fixed scanning and machine vision industry with a groundbreaking new approach to these technologies. And at FPE Automation, we’re thrilled to be partnering with Zebra to bring this streamlined solution to industrial operations across North America.

As a global leader in barcoding, data capture, identification, and sensor technologies since 1969, Zebra has developed an unparalleled reputation in helping companies automate more processes and increase supply chain traceability, quality, and visibility. But recently Zebra turned its sights to fixed industrial scanning and machine vision, working with leading manufacturers and technology partners to develop a better way to do both.

The end result is Zebra's new singular hardware and software platform for both fixed scanning and machine vision, which offers the easiest setup and integration of any solution on the market. And its powerful data capture and vision-enabled capabilities are poised to compete with the leaders of the industrial automation industry.

Our team at FPE Automation has been working with Zebra on rolling out this exciting new family of solutions, and we’re already working with our clients to help them take advantage of Zebra's game-changing innovation in their automation and inspection jobs.

The first big difference with Zebra's new hardware is that it can deliver either fixed scanning or machine vision from the same device. In fact, you can start with a fixed scanner, such as Zebra's FS20 or FS40, and later unlock its machine vision sensing capabilities with a simple software license upgrade.

Speaking of software, you can set up and configure jobs with these devices using a single software application. Zebra's Aurora software provides all the tools, settings, and guided tutorials you need to set up even the most sophisticated fixed scanning or machine vision jobs—all in a simple, user-friendly, and modern interface.

All settings and configurations can be modified with sliders and radio buttons, and you get access to image auto-tuning and other features to simplify setup, along with guided tutorials and videos to help you learn as you go.

For example, with Zebra's Object Locate, you can rapidly and accurately locate objects right out of the box with optimized settings, regardless of orientation, position, or other variances. With its QuickDraw feature, you can draw a box around the area you want to inspect, right on the image, and then choose and configure your preferred image capture tool.

This means beginners can get a fixed scanning or machine vision job up and running quickly. But experts can also easily access all the powerful analysis tools and settings they need, including filters, polarizers, pattern recognition, edge detection, pixel counting, a blogs tool, and much more.

Another big advantage of Zebra's hardware is that you can capture up to 16 different images of a single target, each with its own image settings. You can conduct more inspections and scan and check more data with fewer devices. There are multiple exposure settings for targets that require different lighting, and there are multiple focus plane settings for objects at different distances.

In addition, Zebra supports all the lensing and optics options you might need, including liquid lenses; C-mount lenses; internal lighting with blue, white, red, infrared (IR) or multi-color; and external lighting options including front, back, and low-angle illumination.

Zebra's devices also provide dual-Ethernet connectivity, so you can send instructions to your devices through one Ethernet connection and send images for cloud storage, sharing, and analysis with the other. You can connect to virtually any network, system, or hardware device with industry standard protocols including TCP/IP, Serial, Profinet/Modbus, and CC Link.

Additionally, since Zebra's devices also have USB-C connectivity, you can output your results directly to a display monitor, without having to buy and set up a separate industrial PC for this purpose.

If all of this sounds a bit overwhelming, don’t worry. We have experts at FPE Automation who can guide you to the right solutions and help you set up your jobs with all the right tools, settings, and hardware for the results you need.

Plus, with the simplicity of one hardware and software platform to learn and use, and the ability to capture more data and images with less setup time and fewer devices, Zebra's fixed scanning and machine vision solutions will help you learn and get up to speed faster. You can quickly start to set up and configure jobs without outside assistance or support. But, if you need it, we’re still there to help.

For companies that need a simpler, easier, and more affordable way to automate data-driven or image-based production and quality assurance processes, Zebra's new technologies are the solution.

To learn more about Zebra's revolutionary new approach to fixed scanning and machine vision, download this brochure to learn more about these devices and Zebra's Aurora software. Also, feel free to connect with the industrial automation experts at FPE Automation to get more details and answers to your questions.

About FPE Automation

As leaders in industrial automation since 1963, FPE Automation has decades of extensive and proven experience in helping companies automate more processes, boost quality output, and gain a competitive edge through the power of technology. Visit us now to learn how we can help your business.



Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Lowering the Bar to Reap Automation Benefits: With Epson RC+, No Programming is Required

The right automation means increased production quality, accuracy, speed, and so much more. With no-code, icon-driven programming, anyone can program an Epson SCARA robot. The time has never been better to check it out. 

Jake Hall, aka #TheManufacturingMillennial put together this video highlighting how RC+ Express from Epson is eliminating a learning curve. This puts automation within reach of countless more manufacturers around the country and around the world. As a result, more manufacturers will benefit from the world's most popular SCARA robot. Here are some reasons why you should!

Jake Hall reports: 

Last year the annual 𝐬𝐚𝐥𝐞𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐫𝐨𝐛𝐨𝐭𝐬 𝐢𝐧𝐜𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐛𝐲 𝟐𝟖% 𝐢𝐧 𝐍.𝐀. and for the second year in a row, 𝐧𝐨𝐧-𝐚𝐮𝐭𝐨𝐦𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐥𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐨𝐮𝐭𝐬𝐨𝐥𝐝 the automotive sector. As robots become more highly sought after by smaller manufacturers, we need to find solutions that reduce the risk of integration.

A solution from Epson Robots called 𝐑𝐂+ 𝐄𝐱𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬 helps machine builders, integrators, and end-users integrate robots at a very low learning curve by having a No-Code, easy-to-use teaching environment. 

𝐑𝐂+ 𝐄𝐱𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬 is a free download virtual software that uses block-style programming with premade templates and a built-in 3D simulator for visualizing. 

With over 20 different robot models to choose from and the ability to set up a robot program in minutes, this can help get first-time robot users and also veterans in the industry up and running quickly.

Download RC+ Express for Free
Follow Epson Robotics on LinkedIn

Make sure to register for the Association for Advancing Automation webinar “𝐖𝐡𝐲 𝐀𝐮𝐭𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐞 – 𝐌𝐚𝐧𝐮𝐟𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐂𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐓𝐨𝐝𝐚𝐲’𝐬 𝐍𝐞𝐰 𝐍𝐨𝐫𝐦𝐚𝐥” featuring  from Epson Robots next week here:

Friday, January 21, 2022

FPE Automation's Steve Kocmond is PHD Top Performer for Custom Wireforming Solution

FPE Automation's Steve Kocmond was named a Top Performer this month by PHD Inc. for his work at a wireforming facility.

A local manufacturer needed a cylinder solution that would hold up in a rugged production environment. The non-rotating rod cylinder they were using previously was obsolete. PHD had many available options. None were a direct drop-in functional replacement. So, Steve and the talented PHD applications team went to work designing a PHD custom-engineered solution that would meet all the criteria. The result? The customer was able to keep their equipment updated and maximize production uptime. The team also expressed a need to have this critical cylinder in stock to avoid any downtime. So FPE Automation and PHD Inc. worked with them so they can keep some on hand at all times. Congratulations to Steve Kocmond, and thanks to PHD for the accolades!