EWI Helps Tablet Manufacturer Incorporate Cobotics in Production

When the New York-based company Bak USA decided to enhance and expand its production facility, it turned to EWI’s Buffalo Manufacturing Works for a strategic evaluation of its operations. “They came in, audited our systems, and then proposed some really unique ways of doing exactly what we had been doing – just better, faster, and more efficiently,” said Christian Bak, Chief Technology Officer.

The EWI/Bak partnership
EWI and Bak staffers involved in the cobotics initiative

One of the resulting recommendations from EWI’s “Advanced Manufacturing Implementation Strategy” assessment was to introduce cobots – human collaborative robots – into Bak’s production process. Bak, a manufacturer dedicated to making high-quality, affordable computers (and the only U.S. company that actually manufactures its tablets domestically) recognized that automation could improve both production efficiency and quality. But how would it affect its workforce? “The operators at first were hesitant,” reported Larry Militello, Bak’s Production Manager. “They didn’t know if this was going to be replacing their jobs.”

Bak operators work alongside the Kawasaki cobot in the company's workshop
Bak operators work alongside the Kawasaki cobot in the company’s workshop

What Bak discovered, however, was that cobots on the line can help their human co-workers devote more time doing work that requires skill and judgement. When cobots perform the repetitive and ergonomically challenging tasks – like putting dozens of screws into the backs of every laptop – operators can concentrate on set-up and part preparation, product customization, and assembly completion. “It’s a fantastic example of how a company can leverage technology while enabling – and not hurting – the workforce,” said Buffalo Manufacturing Works President Michael Ulbrich.

The Bak family cuts the ribbon on its expanded facility
The Bak family cuts the ribbon at the grand opening of its expanded facility

The partnership between Bak and EWI’s Buffalo team will remain close as Bak adds 10-15 more Kawasaki robots onto its line in the coming months. The tablet maker expects that full implementation of the cobotics program will make its assembly process 30% more efficient. Want a peek into the process? To view the grand opening of Bak’s Advanced Manufacturing Product Workshop, click here.

Workshop2If you would like to learn more about EWI’s manufacturing advisory services including the “Advanced Manufacturing Implementation Strategy” service, contact Michael Ulbrich at mulbrich@ewi.org.

For information about our cobot and automation capabilities, contact Ron Brown at rbrown@ewi.org.

EWI Adds Three New Team Members to Support Buffalo Manufacturing Works

Buffalo, NY – EWI announced that it has added three new team members at Buffalo Manufacturing Works. Two of the new employees, Ron Aman and Ryan Hurley, will support the rapidly growing additive manufacturing team as customer demand grows for EWI’s expertise in this technology focus area.

Ron Aman
Ron Aman

Ron Aman joined Buffalo Manufacturing works as a Senior Engineer. He comes from the Rochester Institute of Technology and prior to earning his advanced degrees in engineering he served in the U.S. Navy as Nuclear Propulsion Operator. Aman will focus on large format additive manufacturing (AM) applied research and development projects with manufacturers from around the country at Buffalo Manufacturing Works. He earned a B.S., M.S. and a Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from North Carolina State University.

Ryan Hurley
Ryan Hurley

Ryan Hurley was hired as a Project Engineer and comes from Sciaky Inc., a leading provider of metal AM solutions located in Chicago, IL. He has extensive experience with electron beam additive manufacturing (EBAM) applications and will be helping clients explore the technology and develop applications to increase competitiveness. Buffalo Manufacturing Works received a Sciaky EBAM machine in early March. Hurley earned his a materials science engineering degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“As Buffalo Manufacturing Works approaches its second anniversary, EWI continues to add members to our additive manufacturing team due to the growing interest in this technology focus area from clients around the country,” said Michael Ulbrich, President of Buffalo Manufacturing Works. “With world class equipment in house, it’s vital to have the right people in place to develop world class capabilities for our client. We are proud to have both Ron and Ryan join our growing engineering team.”

Rhonda Lombardo
Rhonda Lombardo

Buffalo Manufacturing Works also welcomes Rhonda Lombardo as their new Office Manager. She previously served in same capacity at OmniSeq, The Bonadio Group and Collins & Maxwell, LLP. She is a graduate of Houghton College and Bryant & Stratton College.

Buffalo Manufacturing Works, an advanced manufacturing center of excellence operated by EWI, is part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative. Since opening its doors in April 2015, it has invested $17 million on state-of-the-art equipment, grown its team to 21 employees and has engaged with clients in a wide variety of industries on more than 80 projects.


About EWI
EWI is the leading engineering and technology organization in North America dedicated to developing, testing, and implementing advanced manufacturing technologies for industry. Since 1984, EWI has offered applied research, manufacturing support, and strategic services to leaders in the aerospace, automotive, consumer electronic, medical, energy, government and defense, and heavy manufacturing sectors. By matching our expertise to the needs of forward-thinking manufacturers, our technology team serves as a valuable extension of our clients’ innovation and R&D teams to provide premium, game-changing solutions that deliver a competitive advantage in the global marketplace. To learn more, visit www.ewi.org, email info@ewi.org, or call 614.688.5000.

About Buffalo Manufacturing Works
Buffalo Manufacturing Works, operated by EWI, helps innovation-driven organizations across North America excel by partnering with their internal manufacturing, engineering and R&D teams to deliver better products, grow, and compete. Located on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus in downtown Buffalo, the facility houses state-of-the-art equipment to facilitate applied R&D projects with members, as well as a team specializing in three primary technology focus areas: Advanced Automation, Additive Manufacturing and Metrology & Inspection. For more information, visit www.buffalomanufacturingworks.com.