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2X Less Hands for Assembly

No fixture turns out to be a no-go

Author: Wendy Calcaterra

Published: November 29, 2023




Final Part Quality



Do what you’ve always done, and you’ll get the same thing you’ve always gotten. But “the same thing” was no longer good enough for this manufacturer of hoppers for fertilizer trailers. The team was building hoppers directly on the workshop floor. This approach tied up essential equipment like a crane and a forklift, and it required two workers — one of whom had to be a highly skilled fabricator — to ensure proper assembly. The result was a slow, difficult, and inconsistent production process. They were eager to upgrade, and reached out to Bluco to help them do it.


Bridging the Engineering Gap

While the rest of their production process was already optimized, the lack of a fixture made it easy to see that workholding was a major engineering gap. So Bluco engineers came up with a single versatile solution to bridge that gap and answer all the customer’s challenges. The design included a rolling base for easy repositioning anywhere in the shop. To ensure the angled hopper panels aligned perfectly at any pitch, custom plates were manufactured by Bluco. The vertical supports of the frame were made out of lightweight aluminum for quicker set-up and changeover that no longer required a crane. And as an added perk, the new solution also accommodated leg assemblies.


Projected X-Factor Improvement

The outcome was an immediate improvement across the board. The new fixture ensures that each hopper is made consistently and to spec. What’s more, the entire assembly can now be managed by just one person — and that person no longer has to be an experienced fabricator. This puts senior staff back where they’re needed most and also frees up the crane and forklift for other tasks, making the whole operation more efficient. The success of the solution led the team to purchase another modular solution, and additional cells are under review. Overall, the company’s investment in moving beyond the status quo has exceeded their expectations and helped them level up their entire operation.


Getting Started with bluco

1. Share your challenge

Upload a description of your workholding application and a CAD model of your part to our secure online portal. Submitting your info doesn’t mean you’ve made up your mind, it just starts a conversation.

2. Talk With Us

Within 1-2 days, an application engineer will call to set up a design consultation. We never contract out, so you’ll deal directly with Bluco and communications will be kept strictly confidential.

3. Review Your Proposal

Once we understand your challenges and goals, we’ll develop custom modular solutions. Then, we’ll review designs as well as purchase and rental options virtually. Check out the rest of our process here.