AMITIAE - Thursday 22 August 2013

Epson Portland - Robot and Component Reuse: Reduces Environmental Burden

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By Graham K. Rogers


Since 1999, Epson Portland, based in Oregon, has been producing ink-jet cartridges. The company products have evolved a number of times in that period. Epson Portland is concerned about the environment and following the ideas of Epson in Japan, particularly the concept of monozukuri (the art and science of manufacturing) have implemented a "reduce, reuse, and recycle" process into the evolution of manufacturing.

The efforts made include a repackaging machine made from old cartridge assembly lines, and the reuse of other hardware and robots which in other companies, might have been scrapped.

An example of this economic efficiency, was in the ink manufacturing area, where "the company used retired programmable logic controllers (PLCs) to create a timer for ink barrel mixers with a light that goes on when the mixer stops. The result was an effective and low-cost way to improve accuracy and workflow."

reused PLC
Reused PLC and counter to control lights

Similar examples abound, for example in the vacuum packing area robots from retired lines were used, and a QR Code reader was added to make the new processing faster and more accurate. It also reduces the number of operators required, thus saving more costs.

reused SCARA
Reused SCARA robot

Dave Graham, president of Epson Portland Inc. said that "Epson's commitment to monozukuri provides us with endless opportunities to innovate and improve. Reusing retired machinery is a form of innovation that has helped us to boost product quality, improve efficiency and reduce the burden on the environment."

More information on the recycling and reuse program at Epson Portland may be found on the Epson Corporate website.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.



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