Nolan Johnson connects with SCHUNK Electronic Solutions’ Tom Herndon, regional sales manager, to discuss the company’s upcoming exhibits at SMTAI. Tom shares what visitors to SCHUNK’s virtual booth can expect to find, including an exclusive walking tour of the company’s headquarters facility in Germany. Tom also previews SCHUNK’s newest router, ideal as an entry-level router for shops looking to upgrade or automate.
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Nolan Johnson: Hi, Nolan Johnson here for Real Time with.. SMTAI. Right now, I’m speaking with Tom Herndon, who is a sales manager for SCHUNK Electronic Systems. Welcome, Tom.
Tom Herndon: Thank you very much. It’s good to be here.
Johnson: SCHUNK is exhibiting at SMTA International in the virtual environment. What do you have planned?
Herndon: We have a booth that has everything from videos to PDFs about our products, really just giving the visitor an in-depth look at our products, what we do, and how we do it. We’re hoping there’s enough to take up a person’s time and be able to get some good information out of it.
Johnson: Tell me a little bit more about SCHUNK and your products so that we can help direct the right viewers over to talk to you.
Herndon: Sure. SCHUNK Electronic Solutions is a division of SCHUNK, and we focus strictly on routers or deep handling machines. We offer a wide variety of machines—everything from batch routers, which are manually loaded, to fully automated in-line routers for lights out operations. We offer different, smaller machines to larger machines; pretty much everything to fit high mix-low volume, low mix-high volume—whatever the customer’s needs are.
Johnson: Any new product announcements that we could expect to see through the show?
Herndon: We have a router. SCHUNK Electronic Solutions routers are extremely fast and precise. We actually use our own products in our own machines. We manufactured grippers, rotary units, and the X, Y, and Z gantries are magnetic linear axes that are actually manufactured and assembled in the same plant as the routers themselves. It’s a relatively high-end machine.
To get into, let’s say, a lower precision market, we came out with a SCHUNK SAR compact router, and this router has basically been simplified. It takes all the bells and whistles that we offer in all of our other routers out so that we can meet a different price point. It’s an economical solution.
Routers generally aren’t very cheap. Mostly, customers are using pizza cutters, nibblers, and those kinds of things, so to take a step to a router is quite a big jump. We feel this compact router will enable someone to be able to still get incredible speed and incredible precision but at a relatively economical price point.
Johnson: This sounds like the sort of router that you’d want for your first step into routing machinery.
Herndon: It really is. Absolutely. That’s correct.
Johnson: Are you getting the customer response to that?
Herndon: We are. There are lots of different markets here in the U.S., whether the West Coast or the middle of the country—Michigan and Ohio—a lot of companies aren’t necessarily looking for the fastest and the most precise. I think this router, although it’s still extremely precise and accurate, it will enable someone to get what we maybe call an entry-level router. They will still be able to process boards very quickly and precisely, but it won’t be as big of an investment as they may have thought they might have to pay.
Johnson: Tom, does this new router also have a place for more established, larger organizations that already have routing machinery? Is there a niche for them as well?
Herndon: Absolutely. Our routers have something called a magnoplate fixturing system, and that allows the customer to create their own fixtures. If someone has a number of other routers that they’ve been using—and most of the times, our customers are either upgrading from their current pizza cutters, or they have an older type of machine that maybe the software is outdated or technology’s outdated—this is really a good way in there to get a machine on their floor that will enable them to process boards extremely fast and precisely with excellent results.
We have some very unique features of our routers, one of which is our vacuum system. It actually is probably the cleanest router on the market. If that is a concern from customers having used other machines in the past, this will really address that issue. It is a very clean router. We really bring a lot of technology to the table that our customers will find very useful.
Johnson: The technology side of me has to sneak out here a little bit. Are we talking just rigid-type boards?
Herndon: Really every type of board. We can cut different types of materials, flex circuits, and everything—copper, aluminum, you name it. The flex circuits that we’ve done in the past that folks thought that lasers are really the way to go on these, and in some cases, it may be. But we found that 99% of the time if we can get a fixture that can hold the board rigidly enough, that we’re able to do the same process—same boards—with our routers versus the laser without the high maintenance costs and still get extremely great results doing that.
Johnson: That certainly is a compelling place to be, right there in the middle between pizza cutters and the high end, which certainly hits a lot of people right where they’re at.
Herndon: It really does.
Johnson: Great. I’m excited to stop by your booth myself during the show and see what you have going on and see more about the SCHUNK routers. This is going to be very interesting for me, as well.
Herndon: I look forward to it as well. One other thing, real quick; we have something called a virtual tour. Our colleagues in Germany put it together, and it’s a really neat look at our facility in Germany, where you’re a virtual visitor. You walk into our lobby, and then you walk back into the shop floor, and it shows every one of our routers. It’s just a great way, going into the virtual world these days, for the customers to see what our building looks like in the Black Forest—and then also obviously the wide breadth of routers that we were able to bring to the market.
Johnson: That is very intriguing. I’m looking forward to doing that. Tom, thank you for taking the time to talk with us and share what you’re going to be bringing to SMTAI. I appreciate that a lot.
Herndon: Thank you, Nolan. I look forward to seeing you virtually.