Machine Design Services
Overview

Alexander & Associates annually supplies hundreds of thousands of hours of support services to a wide range of global clients, and has done so for more than 70 years. Our ability to grow in experience and promote from within has produced a support staff with an average of 15+ years of experience. With the range of support capabilities continually growing, A&A has the ability to deliver everything from conceptual ideas to final installed equipment to achieve the business objectives of our clients.

Project Definition

A&A is skilled in Scope Development, Manufacturing Process Considerations and Risk Identification. Through development of conceptual design options, A&A's staff of designers and engineers can identify, analyze, and make recommendations while carefully considering the impact to equipment operation, facilities/utilities, cost and schedule in an effort to provide best value to our clients.

Engineering & Design

A&A offers a comprehensive approach to equipment design and development services by means of several disciplines including Mechanical, Power & Control, Information Technology, and Fabrication. All designs are considered proprietary and all rights are owned by the client. Deliverables may include such items as (but not limited to):

  • Equipment/facility layouts and custom designed equipment in an array of 2D & 3D software
  • Calculations/FEA
  • Preparation of complete design packages including assemblies, detailed part fabrication drawings, and commercial part specifications for equipment bidding, purchase, and fabrication
  • Coordination of ancillary design considerations
  • Technical writing providing Engineering Instructions or Construction Work Plans for installation/equipment setup centerlines and Equipment Operation/Maintenance Manuals
  • Control System Design including Logic Development and Panel Design, Programming including PLC, Drive systems, and Operator Interface Applications
Equipment Shakedown, Installation and Training Support

As an added benefit to our clients, A&A's team of designers and engineers also provide support "after the design is complete" in various forms. Vendor equipment shakedown is a systematic approach to statically (without power) and dynamically (with power) demonstrate the machine assembly/set up is aligned to the "as designed" capabilities. During installation periods, A&A's team serve as a design liaison between the client and construction staff by providing design interpretation and issue resolution. Finally, A&A's technical team provide materials/instruction training for client's personnel on the set-up, operation and maintenance of the equipment.

EXPERTISE and CORE COMPETENCIES:

  • Technical Support
  • Preparation of Testing Procedures and Benchmarks
  • Field Programming Support by Technical Specialists
  • System Trouble Shooting
  • Project specific training for operation and maintenance personnel
  • Application specific training for Drive, PLC and HMI systems
Mechanical Design

2D and 3D Mechanical DesignAlexander & Associates was started as a Mechanical Design firm over 65 years ago. Over those many years, Alexander & Associates has designed equipment ranging across a wide scope of industries. This vast experience allows our designers and engineers to bring a wealth of ideas and options to a client's design challenges.

Our expertise spans a variety of industry standard and custom/specialized machines including, but not limited to, High Speed Production Machines, Assembly and Packing Machines, Tooling, Fixtures, Gauges, and Remote Handling Systems.

Essential to success in today’s fast paced, ever changing and global design environment is a commitment to seek out and apply “cutting edge” technology. Alexander & Associates’ designers are continually exposed to new products and technologies and charged with evaluating how these advances may benefit a client’s project.

Our design teams are geared to meet our customer’s project needs with state of the art technologies. Personnel utilize the latest CAD systems with 3-D capabilities and associative geometry. Networking and trained in-house computer specialists insure that Alexander & Associates’ design teams have access to the fastest, latest and most complete design tools available.

 

EXPERTISE and CORE COMPETENCIES:

  • High speed production equipment
  • R&D test stands and systems
  • Assembly and packaging applications
  • Converting applications (paper, film, etc.)
  • Material handling and conveying
  • Frame design, Drive Systems, Guarding
  • Mechanisms
  • Bearing selection and sizing
  • 2D, 3D, and solid modeling
  • Drafting and detailed design execution
  • Conceptual development
  • Prototype design
  • Modularity and quick changeover
  • Alignment planning and documentation
  • Inspection systems
  • Vendor Inspections and Vendor Acceptance Testing
  • Equipment installation support
  • Equipment Start-Up support
Power & Controls System Design

Testing Power and ControlsA&A’s skill set includes Machine Control Systems, PLC System Design, Variable Speed Drive and Servo System applications, Operator Interface Implementation, system hardware including Control Panel Design, Hydraulic and Pneumatic System Design.

Alexander & Associates’ Power and Control department includes the electrical expertise for machine design and equipment integration applications. Alexander & Associates can provide the hardware and software needed to best suit your project. Hardware design is accomplished using the most current database driven software such as Promis·e® and AutoCad Electrical®. The database nature of the software packages allow for the efficient generation of support documentation for the fabrication of machines and control panels. Our designs comply with NEC, CE, UL508A, CSA and other applicable codes and regulations. Design packages can be assembled for the fabrication of a special machine or for the integration of equipment including special machines and standard equipment.

Our software engineers can provide designs tailored for your project. Expertise in a variety of PLC, Drives, and HMI platforms allows the use of the right software for your needs, including Pack ML/Phase Manager based programs. Our HMI capabilities range from stand-alone systems to server based applications.

Several of our engineers are trained on state of the art servo and variable speed drive systems allowing us to offer a service few other design firms can provide.

EXPERTISE and CORE COMPETENCIES:

  • Complete hardware design using AutoCad®, Autocad Electrical®, or Promis·e® software
  • Extensive machine flexibility utilizing variable speed AC, DC and servo drives
  • Experience with Rockwell: RSLOGIX® 5, 500, 5000, FACTORY TALK®, VIEW® (RSView), and RSNETWORKS®
  • Experience with SIEMENS: PCS7® and SIMOTION®
  • Experience with GML, G&L as well as other software
  • Human-Machine Interfaces (HMI) applications
  • Programmable Controller applications emphasizing machine modularity, flexibility, and reliability
  • Equipment installation, Startup, and Shakedown Support available
  • Power systems designed for specific voltage and frequency requirements
  • Training documentation and presentations covering specific technologies and machine operations
  • Integration of various control platforms using ControlNet, DeviceNet, Ethernet, Sercos, ProfiBus, ProfiNet, and other industry standard communication technologies
Project Management

Project Management Progress MeetingSuccess of any project can be attributed, in part, to the level of detail given to its management. At Alexander & Associates, we have the capability of implementing sound project management work processes, using highly skilled resources on a wide array of project efforts and initiatives.

Every project effort can be broken into four primary phases: Definition, Execution, Construction, and Start-up. Within each of these phases, management will focus on Scope - description of effort and deliverables, Cost - funding strategy, spending curves, future cost projections (trending), and Schedule - duration of expectations including milestone check points.

At Alexander & Associates, Procurement professionals compliment our experienced staff of Project Managers and Project Engineers by overseeing the equipment bidding process and expediting every order through delivery.

The goal of the Project Department at Alexander & Associates is to obtain the best value possible for our customer while insuring their needs and project objectives are met.

EXPERTISE and CORE COMPETENCIES:

  • Concept-to-Start Up project management capabilities
  • Experienced Project & Cost Management, and Procurement resources
  • Insure proper level schedules are in place
  • Ensure that the business objectives are met
  • Project / Design Execution Management
  • Cost Controls - Trend & Status Reporting
  • Scheduling - Management of multi-discipline execution team schedule with appropriate level of detail to ensure effective delivery of project objectives/deliverables
  • Procurement - Order origination/management within client and/or A&A Purchasing System(s), delivery status reporting/order expediting, Invoice review/reconciliation
Equipment Manufacturing

A&A Development's experience in prototyping and manufacturing, complimented by Alexander & Associates' technical design expertise, gives us a unique advantage in fulfilling a client's specific design/build and testing requirements.

We have the experience, resources and capabilities to handle a broad range of work. A&A's long history of special machine design complimented by our build capabilities enables us to handle everything from a single part fabrication to turnkey design/build and run-off of custom machinery. We are recognized for our attention to detail and quality.

EXPERTISE and CORE COMPENTENCIES:

  • In-House Machining Capability
    • CNC Milling - (2) VMC's with travel up to 60" x 30" x 30"
      • (2) CNC Knee-type mills (Proto-trak controls)
    • CNC Turning - Size ranging in diameter up to 18" x 45" long
    • Manual Turning
    • Surface Grinding
    • Horizontal & Vertical sawing
    • CAD/CAM software for machine control programming
    • ERP system for job cost/tracking for shop routing and scheduling
  • In-House Welding/Fabrication Capabilities of Carbon Steel, Stainless Steel & Aluminum
    • 400 amp Hi-Definition CNC Plasma & Oxy-Fuel Shape Cutting (8' x 20' plate size)
      • 5-axis bevel cutting capability
      • 2" thick (production) plasma thickness on carbon steel
      • 6" thick via oxy-fuel torch
    • AWS Certified Welders
    • Pulse GMAW & GTAW Welding
    • 10' x 5' Welding Cells with boom-fed (swing-arc) wire feeders
    • 120-ton Piranha Ironworker
    • Metal Forming
    • 75-ton Drake Hydraulic Press
  • Part Finishing
  • Equipment Assembly/Alignment
  • Equipment Run-Off/Shakedown
Machine Vision and Imaging Technology

Information TechnologyThe experience and continual success of the Machine Vision & Imaging work executed by Alexander & Associates is derived from experience in a wide range of fields in computer science and engineering for nearly a decade. Most of the work falls under, but is not limited to, three main categories: (1) projects involving vision algorithm and programming; (2) those that include vision integration controls environment and (3) interfacing with data acquisition and decision support systems.

Vision Algorithm (Programming):

At Alexander & Associates, we are capable of analyzing unique machine vision analysis request and creating tailored solutions for quality control or product measurement for client needs. A typical vision application consists not only of designing an image inspection, but also performing domain analysis with the client to account for the environment in which the image is captured. These applications may also consist of choosing optimum lighting, determining any possible source of false results and correct camera positioning and other factors that can affect overall performance of the vision algorithm.

When the previously mentioned conditions are met and design and testing of the image inspection has been completed, specific tasks are performed using tools to find data or features. A few examples of the features often examined are; calculating the “real world distance” from one product feature to another, detecting a damaged product or missing features, or performing quality measurements by determining the amount of light passing through a product certain point. The range of analysis and data collection applications for which machine vision can be used is almost limitless.

Vision Integration Controls Environment:

Alexander & Associates has gained experience integrating vision systems with data acquisition and reject systems, and interfacing camera results with a controls environment. Data is often gleaned from a high-resolution, area-scan vision system and stored in a database, sent over a network, or communicated directly with a PLC. We have also been successful with implementing high-speed, line scan vision systems that depend on encoder pulses and PLS signals on a manufacturing line. We develop vision applications using LabVIEW as well as write software directly on a camera's embedded operating system. A few of the vision application tools we use include National Instruments Vision Builder for Automated Inspection (VBAI), Cognex Insight, and DVT Intellect and IV Navigator.

Data Acquisition, Decision Support Systems & Custom Software:

Data acquisition typically involves the acquisition of signals and waveforms and processing them to obtain desired information. The components of data acquisition systems include appropriate sensors that convert any measurement parameter to an electrical signal, which is acquired by data acquisition hardware. Typical sensors used in data acquisition include pressure, temperature, distance, light-eyes for presence/non-presence, and encoders to track line speed.

Alexander & Associates has experience correlating vision results with other data being acquired throughout the line on these various sensors. We have access to a wide variety of graphing, charting, and other real-time updateable controls and indicators for HMI display. Working with engineers familiar with this process, we can also work statistical analysis into the design of software to show control charting. Vision systems can be designed to track various process variables and give instantaneous feedback to help an operator decide if the process is trending outside of its specification. The operator will be able to correct for this while the manufacturing line is in motion.

EXPERTISE and CORE COMPETENCIES:

  • Machine Vision & Imaging
  • Vision Algorithm (Programming)
  • Vision Integration Controls Environment
  • Data Acquisition
  • Decision Support Systems
  • Custom Software
Equipment & Process Development

During research and development efforts, once the design is complete and the equipment has been manufactured and assembled, then the effort of fine-tuning the efficiency of the equipment and establishing operational process centerlines begins. The Alexander & Associates Development facility is uniquely equipped to support design/build efforts due to the availability of staffing resources from the various disciplines of the A&A organization. These skilled resources have vast experience and knowledge of testing, analysis of test result data, and process development for effectively delivering complete projects.

The Development facility infrastructure offers 30,000 square feet of manufacturing space with high bay (30’) ceilings. Ample 480V/3f power, compressed air and utilities necessary for running equipment is readily available for use. Temporary tie-ins to these systems for testing/development purposes. With in-house support personnel and fabricating/manufacturing machinery, A&A is capable of handling any need that should arise. For our client’s convenience, the facility provides secured wireless internet connection as well as office space and associated amenities can be provided for client use during testing/development and provisions for disposal of project related materials (test products, raw materials, etc.). The facility is a secure location with limited access to outside personnel during normal business hours. A&A can also accommodate special requests should the project require special security considerations for confidentiality purposes, such as tarping/panels around the equipment. Upon completion of the development effort, design resources can be made available at the Development facility for breakdown/match-marking of equipment for shipping and preparation for subsequent reinstallation at the client’s facility.

Prototype Equipment/Proof of Principle

Prototpye 3D Printed DesignFrom initial concept through completed project, we provide you with the technical expertise, fabrication skills, and final testing to help to "find better ways" to meet your project goals.

Alexander & Associates Development specializes in the production of high quality prototype equipment. Our focus is to provide unique solutions for development projects to efficiently and cost effectively meet the client's objectives. We can manufacture everything from specific low-investment parts for testing to fabricate, assemble and test complete machines.

EXPERTISE and CORE COMPENTENCIES:

  • Parts Design and Fabrication
  • Implementation of Rapid Prototyping or low-investment equipment for testing opportunities
  • Design capabilities with extensive development experience
  • Flexibility to meet the needs of the client and therefore, react more quickly to modifications and changes
Equipment Procurement

Specialized employees dedicated to preparation of equipment purchases including specifications, procedures, requests for quote and vendor inquiries, bid evaluations and vendor recommendations, purchase order issuance and status reporting, expediting and vendor follow-up during fabrication, delivery schedule control, inspections and acceptance tests (if required), shipping and delivery confirmation.

Technical Writing

To compliment Alexander & Associates' design, fabrication and development support is our ability to supply our client's technical documentation needs. Based on the client's documentation needs, our team of design personnel is versed in providing technical documents such as:

  • Risk Assessments (safety)
  • Equipment Test Plans
  • Equipment Shakedown Plans
  • Vendor Acceptance Test Plans
  • Engineering Instructions or Construction Work plans for equipment installation
  • Construction and Shakedown Checklists
  • Equipment Start-Up Plans
  • Equipment Operation Manuals
  • Equipment Maintenance Manuals
  • Recommended Spares List
Low Cost Service (LCS) Support

As an added value to our clients, Alexander & Associates has the ability to evaluate design support requests for opportunities to utilize our low cost global design support partners. While other companies may boast they can provide a similar service, in A&A’s business model for providing LCS support, all of our global support resources are trained in A&A’s design standards and our proven design work processes. In addition, A&A retains management of all LCS activities to insure quality and accuracy of all deliverables to the client and maximize the potential to reduce overall cost of the design effort.

  • Mechanical LCS
    • Global resources are trained and proficient in producing 3D models and draft files. This includes modeling of individual parts, compiling sub-assembly drawings and/or converting pre-existing design documentation into the client’s preferred software platform.
  • Power & Control LCS
    • Global resources are trained and proficient in producing design documents by utilizing design software platforms such as Promis-e® to generate and supply design files.
Design Software Platforms

Alexander & Associates has a wealth of Design Software platforms at our disposal. Our experienced and dedicated team of designers bring a significant diversity of backgrounds to a client's technical needs.

Alexander & Associates has consistently achieved results of excellence across a broad segment of industry. Projects are undertaken and completed by a permanent staff of professionals committed both individually and collectively to understanding and serving the needs of our clients. Whether the project ranges from redraws and as-built efforts to special machine design and prototype development, we have the staff, experience and design/CAD systems to get the job done.

Solid Modeling based CAD packages are at the core of Alexander & Associates' CAD expertise. This in-depth experience allows for rapid project concept to completion times. If your project requires 3-D modeling, prototyping or machine functionality design verification, we can readily handle these task with confidence. Software Systems are constantly upgraded to stay at the cutting edge of technology. Don't see your design platform of choice in the list below, no problem. Please consult with our design team for availability and/or options to meet your design needs.

EXPERTISE and CORE COMPENTENCIES:

MECHANICAL POWER & CONTROL
  • SolidEdge®
  • SolidWorks®
  • Autodesk Inventor®
  • AutoCAD® (2008 and above)
  • Algor®
  • MicroStation® (with Descartes)
  • V8i®
  • IrasB V8®
  • GTX RasterCAD 11.0®
  • AutoCAD® (2008 and above)
  • AutoCAD Electrical®
  • Promis·e®
  • EPLAN®
  • PackML
  • ControlLogix
  • Factory Talk
  • RSLOGIX®5, 500, 5000
  • VIEW® (RSView)
  • RSNETWORKS
  • GML
  • PCS7®
  • SIMOTION®
  • G&L Motion Control
  • LabVIEW®
Test

test

Bring your ideas to market!

Contact us today!