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ISO Recertification

By Hilary Lundberg, Director of Communications

AlphaTech Inc. has been ISO certified since 2008 with Advantage International Registrar based out of Raleigh, NC. We began the process to become ISO certified when a few of our major customers began requiring their vendors to maintain certification. Mana

gement at ATI began a lengthy process of selecting a registrar and participating in classes to become familiar with ISO. AlphaTech then invested the help of NC State to assist with development our Quality Manual, Quality Procedures and Controlled Documents for the shop floor.

ATI is proud to be ISO Certified. We understand it is more than just conforming to the standard and satisfying requirements for a certificate. We wholeheartedly believe that the ISO procedures benefit our company in an effort to provide the highest quality parts, on time to our customers. We take customer satisfaction seriously and hope to continue to keep communication open with our customers to continually improve our company and relationships with customers and vendors.

Since implementation in 2008, ATI has successfully completed numerous external audits, including our initial certification, recertification and changes to the standard. In the history of the company, ATI has never had a major nonconformance as a result of an external audit. We have even completed audits with zero nonconformaces found. AlphaTech is very proud of our successful audit history through Advantage International Registrar and look forward to many more years of partnership with their company.

Our latest external ISO audit was conducted from June 14th-16th in our shop in Fletcher, North Carolina. AlphaTech was pleased to welcome an auditor from Advantage International Registrar for a two and a half day re-registration assessment. ATI will receive a re-registration certificate from Advantage International Registrar after paperwork is completed for the June audit. We will upload this new certificate to our website as soon as it is received for our customer's convenience. The next step in our ISO journey is to transition to the 2015 version of the standard by 2018.

For a copy of our current ISO certificate please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

AlphaTech Firearms Division

By Joe Worley, New Business Development

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1911

After several customer requests to do so, AlphaTech applied for, and received, a Type 7 FFL on February 14, 2011. That day was coincidentally the exact day of the 100th year anniversary of John M. Browning’s patent for the infamous m1911!

AlphaTech just had to produce some 1911 handguns in celebration. Anything else just wouldn’t do. So, we embarked upon a journey to produce a well-crafted 1911 seeking help from Bob Marvel, one of the leading 1911 aficionados. Bob taught AlphaTech’s master tool and die makers how to build a world-class 1911. AlphaTech then applied current machining technologies along with Bob’s imparted 1911 gunsmithing knowledge to produce some remarkable guns. They look and function well beyond imagination.

Today, we still make to order custom 1911’s but strive to stay close to our roots: contract manufacturing. AlphaTech currently works with various firearm companies to manufacture component parts to their exacting specifications. You will likely see some recognizable parts on our website.

If you are looking for help with contract manufacturing in the firearms business and beyond, please consider AlphaTech as a valued partner. You can reach This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Business Director at AlphaTech Firearms via email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Visit the AlphaTech Firearms Facebook page: rsz th

 

 

NAT Contracts with AlphaTech to Automate/Support Manufacturing

By Joe Worley – New Business Director

NAT Final 72 LOGO 002

North American Trade (NAT) is a producer of quality ammunition brass. They manufacture unprimed centerfire ammunition brass cases using a seven-step process to ensure quality and consistency. They are an American-owned company located near Asheville, North Carolina.
NAT contracted with AlphaTech in early 2015. Since that time, we have worked with NAT owner, Neil Myers, and their staff to develop a unique seven-step production process.
• Step One – Annealed brass cups (preformed brass with enough material to be extruded into a final shape) are purchased/made in the USA to NAT specifications and quality standards.
• Step Two - The cups are loaded into hoppers and run through a caliber-specific transfer die within a 40-ton press. The press runs at a capacity of 240 strokes per minute. That is 14,400 pieces of brass every hour! It is crucial that the transfer dies and all associated tooling be well maintained. ATI takes pride in helping NAT achieve maximum UP time.
• Step Three - Brass cases then enter wash station number one. Here, cases are washed and dried using custom-built machinery with an automated timing and solution system.
• Step Four - The extractor groove is cut on the head turn machines. Cleaned and dried cases are placed in a custom elevator hopper. The elevator hopper feeds two head-turn machines using multiple sensors.
• Step Five - Finished cases are loaded into NAT’s proprietary bowl feeder/meter system from an automated elevator hopper for laser and vision inspection. An OPTO 22 PLC monitors and controls each step of the process. Every case is inspected and dimensions are documented and stored by lot number to maintain quality control. Inspection tolerances are derived from MIL-STD-636.
   NAT’s 360-degree laser inspection station ensures every case meets these requirements:

     Overall Length
     Mouth Diameter
     Groove Length
     Groove Diameter
     Rim Thickness
     Head Diameter
     Vision Inspection Station
     Primer Pocket Diameter
     Flash Hole Diameter
     Head Stamp Presence

• Step Six - Cases that pass inspection to SAAMI specifications are washed, dried and dipped in an inhibitor wash to maintain a bright and clean appearance.
• Step Seven - Cases are placed in various containers to fit customer requirements including; 5 gallon pails, 20 gallon barrels or wooden pallets all lined with 4 mil bags for protection.
AlphaTech has worked alongside NAT staff to automate the various steps listed above. We have built custom bowl feeders and transfer stations, modified elevators, built and designed tooling for transfer presses and developed programming that ties it all together. We also continue to support all NAT production efforts and product development.
It has been a great opportunity to help NAT get established properly and it continues to be our privilege to keep their equipment running smoothly. NAT is at the forefront of brass case production and we are very excited to be part of their success!
For more information about North American Trade, please visit their website at www.natrade.net.

 

Click here to download the PDF version of our March 2017 Newsletter.

Tech Tip: Arduino Based Industrial Controls

By Deane Potter – Applications Engineer 

There are dozens of industrialized PLC control options on the market. To name several you have Allen Bradley, GE Fanuc, ABB, Siemens, Horner, Eaton, Automation Direct and many others. These solutions are all programmed with ladder logic (RLL) and have worked well for 40+ years. This technology is still growing in capabilities and flexibility.
At the same time the SoC (System on a Chip) world is continuing to mature and is now coming to the manufacturing floor. Many SoC devices belong to the IoT (or IIoT) world. Some can be a viable alternative to PLC based controls. Below is a quick snapshot of a system we developed using an industrialized Arduino.
Recently we were asked to repurpose an existing piece of equipment. Not an uncommon occurrence in most manufacturing environments. The equipment we were working with included an old paddle hopper/elevator purchased dirt cheap from a fish processing plant and two new head turning machines from BRUT. The objective was to build a system to continuously load freshly pressed brass casings into the two head-turning machines and keep their hoppers loaded. See Figure 1.

figure 1

Figure 1.


The solution we chose to implement used the Ardbox from Industrial Shields (http://www.industrialshields.com). This device is based on the Arduino Leonardo SoC. The Arduino platform is programmed in C/C++ and as such does not use ladder logic or RLL. The Arduino is not currently a fully object oriented platform but, at some point it could be. The Ardbox 20 model has 10 inputs and 10 outputs which are very configurable. See the data below.

Model: PLC Arduino ARDBOX 20

Source power: 12 or 24Vdc

Inputs:     10   (software configurable)

9 Analog (0-10Vdc) or Digital (5-12-24Vdc)

1 opto-isolated Digital PNP (5-12-24Vdc)

Outputs:   10 (DIP switch configurable)

10 Isolated Digital (5-12-24Vdc)

6 can be configured for PWM (5-12-24Vdc)

7 can be configured for Analog (0-10Vdc)

Communications: USB, RS485, RS232, I2C, SPI


For this project, we used eight discrete inputs and two outputs. The inputs are: one Start switch (MOM), A/B/C selector switch (maintained), two hopper proximity sensors and two magnetic position sensors on the pneumatic cylinder. The outputs are: a discrete On/Off to an Automation Direct variable frequency drive, set for a specific speed, that runs the paddle belt motor, and an SMC pneumatic valve that is spring loaded on the return. The air cylinder is used to reposition the director plate inside the exit chute. Our fabrication department mounted a bi-directional chute at the top of the elevator. This allows brass casings to be directed to either of the head turn machine hoppers. See Figure 2.

figure 2

Figure 2.

Operation is simple, as the head turn machines run through the product in their respective hoppers, their sensors turn on signaling for a refilling. The ARDBOX determines which sensor went on first. Then it sends a signal to the pneumatic valve to reposition (if necessary) the director plate. When the plate position sensors verify that the plate is positioned as requested, the paddle belt motor is turned on and brass casings are sent up the chute. As each hopper is loaded, the hopper sensor signals that enough product has been loaded and turns off the motor. This process continues as each hopper requests to be filled. Additional output devices can be easily added such as a light tree to give visual indicators on the system state, analog control of the motor speed based on PID looping, etc. The finished project is shown in Figure 3.

figure 3

Figure 3.


Controlling industrial machinery is no longer limited to ladder logic programmed devices. We now have a broad range of solutions to choose from and the options are growing each year. This was a fun project to build and is quite functional. The fact that it was written in C++ was an added bonus.

 

Click here to download the PDF version of our March 2017 Newsletter.

Industry Trends: The IoT Era is Here

By Hilary Mikowicz – Director of Communications

iotIoT, or Internet of Things, is the “network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment” (Source: https://www.i-scoop.eu/internet-of-things-guide/). The three main industries in terms of IoT spending in 2016 were manufacturing, transportation and utilities. Manufacturing is predicted to keep this number one position across the globe until at least 2020. This top spot is due to reasons including efficiency, automation, customer-centricity, competitive benefits and the benefits of data across the manufacturing value chain. Business Insider Intelligence projects that there will be 34 billion devices connected to the internet by 2020, 24 billion of these being IoT devices, with this projection, IoT has been referred to as the “next Industrial Revolution” (source: http://www.businessinsider.com/iot-trends-will-shape-the-way-we-interact-2016-1).


The introduction of IoT into manufacturing will help eliminate waste due to production flow being monitored in real time. It is also projected to aid in management’s control of the production line status to make quick adjustments and better manage operational cost. Machine maintenance may be tracked to minimize equipment failures and reduce service costs. Research & Development will profit from tracking equipment deterioration enabling the reengineering of products for better performance. For manufacturing, there will also be the added benefit that these “things”, in the Internet of Things, need to be created. This will generate increased revenue and market share as well as access to new markets to manufacturers who are contracted to produce the upcoming influx of internet capable products created by the incorporation of IoT. (source: https://www.i-scoop.eu/internet-of-things-guide/internet-of-things-in-manufacturing/).


In executing an IoT manufacturing strategy some important considerations need to be addressed on the company wide level. The first will be to identify what data can be collected and from where will it be collected. It is also equally important to consider whether employees are using the data optimally. Data is vital to manufacturing but colleting accurate data and analyzing it properly is crucial. Training must also be addressed as well. Companies should consider the possibility that IoT might be best implemented in conjunction with retraining employees with data collection and the new IoT strategy. (source: https://www.i-scoop.eu/internet-of-things-guide/internet-of-things-in-manufacturing/).



Click here to download the PDF version of the March 2017 Newsletter.

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