How do you get diamonds, gemstones, and other jewelry components from point A to point B in a 600,000-square-foot facility? Automating much of that physical moving from said A to B helps. And automation is essential to Stuller’s day-to-day operations — essential to getting jewelers what they need.
How do we keep our daily functions flowing seamlessly and ensure next-day delivery items make it out the door?
Enter Stella, an unusual Stuller associate.
INTRODUCING: STELLA FROM STONE SETTING
Stella works in Stuller’s stone setting department, and she has one job: rolling the same route every day, greeting coworkers — by name — at their workstations, and then delivering pieces they need. And then she’s off to the next workstation. She’ll be back in 15 minutes.
She gets along well with others. She follows orders swiftly and diligently. In fact, during one Christmas rush, she enabled a 22% increase in production, which led to a 21% decrease in overtime. Our stone setting department accomplished three days’ work in one day.
Oh, and she’s six feet tall and requires neither sleep nor food. Sounds inhuman? That’s because she is.
Stella is a robot.
No, robots aren’t taking over. They’re just helping Stuller automate our most repetitive processes to better serve our customers.
Stella is categorized as a co-bot (or collaborative robot), meaning she works side-by-side with humans in a shared workspace. In fact, Stella and her class of collaborative robots are some of the first types of automation in manufacturing settings that can interface with people without posing any danger. These days, more and more collaborative applications are turning up across many industries. Amazon has long used automation to help move merchandise around its warehouses. Wal-Mart employs mobile robots to scan inventory. Hotels have even begun sending automated butlers to suites to fulfill room service requests.
Stella is technically an Autonomous Indoor Vehicle (AIV). Specifically designed for the manufacturing environment, she travels around tight spaces, avoiding obstacles and navigating bustling, populated areas. Her on-board scanner shoots 50 feet ahead. If there’s an obstacle in her path, Stella backs up just enough to go around whatever stands in her way — or stands behind her, thanks to her rear-facing, obstacle-sensing sonar. Workers quickly learned Stella would safely navigate around them.
LIFE BEFORE STELLA
Before Stella, two Stuller associates spent their workdays as runners in the stone setting department. Traveling about the division, these workers passed along works-in-progress from one area to the next.
Stuller’s Research and Development Lab is the driving force of innovation within the building. They test new tools and techniques. They try to break them, identify weaknesses and opportunities, and then rebuild them anew. And they do their best to evaluate and enhance Stuller’s existing production processes, too.
“Looking forward, one of our goals for 2019 and beyond is to find more applications for automation in the building,” reports Rene DeMoura, Director of Stuller Labs.
HOW TO INTRODUCE AUTOMATION INTO YOUR WORKSPACE
Automation is something you can do in your own shop — even if robots like Stella aren’t quite your style.
SHOP SETUP SERVICES
For a more efficient workflow, turn to Stuller’s Shop Setup Services. Simply tell us your shop dimensions, equipment needs, and budget. From there, a Tools Tech Team member will be in touch to help you select equipment and determine the most efficient layout for your space. Learn more about our Shop Setup Services here on Stuller.com.
PROTECT YOUR PRODUCTION
Understand ergonomics and how it plays into a bench jeweler’s wellbeing. Remember, each jeweler is different, having different vantage points, postures, heights, and reaching abilities. Helpful ball vises and work-holding solutions can help reduce body strain. Make sure to take advantage of microscopes to save the eyes. Proper ventilation is also an essential safeguard. Shop the latest tools here on Stuller.com.
Automation can take shape through 3D modeling. Wax carvings that once took days can be produced in hours — and in much larger batches. And with CAD software, you can save your best-selling designs to replicate them at the click of a button. Shop Stuller’s customization options here on Stuller.com.
How’s that for maximizing efficiency?
The Tools Tech Team experts are here for you. Give them a call at 1-800-877-7777 ext. 4300