Packaging automation innovator leverages high-end robotics expertise to grow market share
Some companies just get it. Rather than merely being a jack of all trades and master of none, StrongPoint Automation Inc. is the sort of company that would much rather focus on what it does best—developing leading-edge, high-tech solutions for customers in the CPG (consumer packaged goods) and other industries requiring high-performance robotic and conveying systems to optimize their own manufacturing and packaging processes.
Founded in 2007 in Cambridge, Ont., the feisty upstart not only managed to grow its way right through the thick of the nasty recent economic recession, but also build itself a glowing reputation in industry circles as a highly knowledgeable, no-nonsense supplier of quality automated production systems that really knows its stuff.
Currently operating out of a well-equipped, 10,000-square-foot assembly and testing facility with 15 full-time employees, the company has been executing an average of just over 20 projects over the last couple of years, according to StrongPoint president Warren Tait.
“We’re not a huge company, but we are well-designed to handle customers both big or small, complex or other, and we’re always looking for new customers and business,” Tait told Canadian Packaging during a recent visit to the facility. “But the big thing is how we have structured ourselves.
“You can’t be good at everything, you have to streamline, which is how we came up with our company’s name: knowing what our strong points are.”
Having acquired extensive industry experience while in employ of another automation systems supplier, serving primarily the food-and-beverage industry, Tait says he has no regrets about venturing out on his own, along with a few other like-minded, entrepreneurial automation experts boasting solid, hand-on knowledge in mechanical design, electrical design and engineering, and system design and testing.
“We wanted to work with conveyors because it is a huge market—estimated to be worth from $50 million to $100-million a year in Ontario alone,” Tait relates.
“We also wanted to go into robotics because, quite frankly, robotics are the future, and the future is now,” says Tait, noting that the two technologies are highly complementary, with most industrial robotic systems being integrated to some extent with one conveying system or another to provide a total solution.
Supplying a comprehensive offering of conveyors—including mat-top, tabletop, processing belt, side-grip, sanitary, roller-case and pallet conveyor systems—StrongPoint now markets its design and integrations services across Canada and throughout the northeastern U.S., he relates, attracting customers from across a broad range of food-and-beverage, bakery, confectionary, pharmaceutical, chemical and other consumer products industries.
According to Tait, one of the company’s core strengths and competencies is rooted in its ability to integrate robotic systems manufactured by FANUC Robotics into custom-designed, high-performance automation solutions—covering pick-and-place; case-, tray- and carton-packing; and palletizing and depalletizing applications—for food-and-beverage companies.
Just recently, StrongPoint undertook a challenging project for a major U.S.-based food ingredients manufacturer with extremely strict space constraints, making available only a relatively small 32×20-foot footprint for the new equipment.
As StrongPoint’s director of sales Drew Cameron recalls: “Within that space, we needed to run four lines—with three running at any time—to a single robot handling the palletizing of bags, drums and cases simultaneously.