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What’s New and What’s Next in Advanced Manufacturing

Vik Lall, Head of Engineering at Windsor’s Formedge Manufacturing, says their company has the capacity and expertise to service a variety of markets as well, including construction, railway, and the electrical grid. It’s making the connections within these industries that Lall hopes WEtech can assist them with.

“That’s been our goal this past year, breaking into other industries,” says Lall. “We’re at the point where we’re trying to create networks.”

Formedge was established in 1998 and specializes in complex cold form parts including fasteners like nuts and bolts, seating components, and doors, hinges, and pins for large OEM companies like Ford and Chrysler.

“We’ve been strictly supplying parts to the automotive industry and it’s been amazing and really helped us grow our business, but nowadays the demand for automotive has changed,” he notes. “We survived (the financial crisis) in 2008, we survived the pandemic, but a lot of companies like ours closed down this year. It’s very sad to hear, but luckily we’re still here and I know for a fact for us to continue to survive we need to move into some of these other industries.”

Lall says the advantage of cold header machines is the speed and accuracy in which they can produce parts, a valuable capability and a perfect fit for the booming construction and railway industries.

“Cold headers can produce thousands of parts in an hour. They’re very high paced, high production machines compared to a conventional CNC machine which can do maybe a few hundred parts in an hour,” explains Lall. “It’s not very commonly seen in Canada. It’s almost like a dying niche because it’s very complex to get into and we’re probably one of the very few companies in Ontario that specialize in it.”

Lall says Formedge has continued to grow in the services they offer and the technology they’ve adopted. They now have 12 cold header machines, 8 CNC machines, and their own patent pending vision sorting machine which was developed by their in-house engineers.

“It’s able to check 9,000 parts in one hour, which is a phenomenal speed compared to the traditional way, which is actually checking by hand. We’ve automated that entire process,” he explains. “A lot of money goes into paying someone to sort parts by hand, so we just decided ‘let’s invent our own machine.’”

Lall says that while similar machines do exist, they cost upwards of a half a million dollars.

“We were able to build one for $100,000.”

They also built it so it could be used for other industries outside of automotive.

“It’s really robust in the sense that we can put any part on it; we’ve built it in such a way that there are inserts that we simply change out and you can put any dimension of part on it (length, diameter) and you can still check all the dimensions at a high speed.”

Original Article on WETechAlliance

WETechAlliance is one of seventeen Regional Innovation Centres, funded by the Province of Ontario, serving the Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent regions. We provide entrepreneurs with business services, training, perks, mentorship and strategic connections to help bring new ideas to market, scale to the next level and build a dynamic culture and a community of innovation. WETechAlliance has served as the catalyst for technology and innovation in the Windsor-Essex + Chatham-Kent regions since 2011.

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