High-speed blender manufacturer Blendtec today announced an upgrade to its 270,000-square-foot plant in Orem, UT, that has doubled its circuit board manufacturing capacity without enlarging the facility. The upgrade – including a custom elevator system with additional custom machinery and workflow designed by microelectronic manufacturing system specialist Promation – is part of a $10 million plant investment to support Blendtec’s growth.
“We nearly tripled the size of our plant in 2011, but with 10 new models being introduced this year and rapidly expanding distribution that includes major retailers such as Bed Bath & Beyond, Macy’s and Dillard’s, we needed a way to build more blenders without building a new facility,” said Blendtec founder Tom Dickson. “Promation came up with a creative solution that is allowing us to utilize our existing manufacturing space more effectively.”
The circuit board assembly process affected by the upgrade is the most critical and time-intensive operation in the manufacturing of Blendtec’s blenders, according to the company. The boards drive all of Blendtec’s features, ranging from pre-programmed blend cycles to exclusive new features such as a 100-speed touch-screen slider introduced this year that changes motor and pulse speed with the swipe of a finger. According to the company, these electronics-based innovations have played a key role in Blendtec’s growth, along with patented blade, jar and control panel engineering that produces safer, faster and easier-to-clean machines.
Previously, Blendtec ran each circuit board through the same assembly line twice to populate both sides. To increase capacity, Promation developed a second PCB production line that is connected to the first with an elevator, overhead conveyor and feeder units. The elevator delivers one-sided PCBs completed on the original line to the overhead conveyor, where they are flipped and lowered to the new line for second-side assembly. The process provides continuous, 100% hands-free production flow that saves time and labor as well as doubling PCB throughput.
Promation created the elevator/overhead conveyor setup to provide access from Blendtec offices to the plant in a tight space that otherwise would have required blocking the door between the two areas. The new installation creates a U-shaped production line with two parallel lanes of machinery connected by the elevator system at the closed end of the U.
“The challenge in this project was to work within Blendtec’s space constraints to increase capacity,” said Gary Goldberg, Promation President and CEO. “The new process achieves that objective, eliminates manual processes that previously slowed production, and positions Blendtec to accommodate rising demand fueled in part by the advanced electronics on these circuit boards that differentiate Blendtec machines from every other high-performance blender on the market.”