In the Business of Solving Problems

Edgewater Automation

Edgewater Automation provides the highest quality turnkey solutions for the energy, transportation, life science, consumer products, and electronics markets. The company is in the business of solving problems and creating workable solutions to make manufacturing environments operate as efficiently as possible.
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From assembly systems to test systems, material handling systems, data acquisition and management, process development and manufacturing, the team at Edgewater Automation can meet the needs of new and repeat clients alike.

Edgewater Automation has grown from modest beginnings into a highly respected and successful cradle-to-grave systems integrator. Founded in 2001 with a handful of employees, Edgewater Automation today has approximately 185 to 190 full-time staff. In recent years, the company has hired specialists skilled in applications such as engineering, programmable logic controllers, robotic programming, machine building, design engineering, mechanical design, and sales.

As the company states on its comprehensive website, “When you’re tasked with finding a team to design and build an automated assembly or test system, you need to work with problem solvers.” To this end, Edgewater provides flexible, robust, smart solutions that ultimately make its clients’ businesses better and more efficient.

The full range of services the company provides to these clients includes project management, engineering, manufacturing, support, installation, training, remote troubleshooting, and providing spare parts. Clients benefit from having one point of contact throughout their project, from inception to installation, with all aspects of the manufacturing process covered, including fabrication, assembly, and system integration.

Edgewater has its 45,000-square-foot headquarters in Saint Joseph, Michigan, and to better serve its customers, the company maintains an additional 45,000-square-foot facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina, a 25,000-square-foot development division in Saint Joseph, and a 150,000-square-foot manufacturing division in Buchanan, Michigan. The company also has sales offices in California, North Carolina, and Michigan.

Edgewater Automation has a ISO 9001:2015 certified quality management system and recently met another milestone when it gained robot integrator certification from the trade organization Robotic Industries Association (RIA) this year. For the team at Edgewater Automation – a highly experienced and preferred integrator for numerous robot suppliers – this certification serves to recognize the company’s high-level robotics capabilities that it has built over the past seventeen years.

The certification is required to perform risk assessment and to have robot programmers tested and shows that Edgewater and its integrators are being held to a much higher standard or automation in the industry.

Steve McLaren, a Sales Manager at Edgewater, sits on one of the boards of the RIA and believes the recent robot integrator certification adds a higher level of accreditation to integrator companies working in the automotive industry as well as other industries.

“It gives us a badge that we have completed an internal audit from RIA, and the goal from RIA is to have the certification interjected into project or machine specifications or maybe even a purchasing scheme that identifies the best of the best in the industry,” he states.

“This certification says we are not just some integrator working out of a shop or garage, but there are criteria that have brought us to a higher standard in the industry. And that’s what the RIA is really trying to promote to the end users, starting with the General Motors, Ford, and FCAs (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) of the world and trickling down to their supplier base, Tier 1, and hopefully overflowing into other areas, including consumer goods and medical devices,” McLaren explains.

The company has won numerous industry awards and received considerable recognition for its many achievements over the years. This year saw company Founder and President Rick Blake made a finalist in the EYs award for Entrepreneur of the Year in the area covering Northwest Ohio and Michigan. Blake, who came in second, acknowledged being honored in a press release and added, “As we find more ways to include automation in our markets, we see many new opportunities for us to follow.”

Like those in many industries, Edgewater Automation has faced its share of challenges when it comes to changing misconceptions about the manufacturing and automation sector. One way the company is inspiring young people is by participating in Manufacturing Day.

Edgewater has served as a host site for the event, most recently this October, seeing hundreds of students from area schools come to tour the facility. McLaren and the company welcomed this year’s event. “Manufacturing Day really opens up the doors for students to see the current state of manufacturing and see for themselves that it’s not a dirty job anymore, but a clean job, high-tech and with many available career opportunities,” he says.

One area that is seeing tremendous potential for automation is online pharmacies, which have expanded in recent years. McLaren says that even something as simple as going online and clicking a couple of buttons to order a prescription and have it delivered involves a great deal of automation. Other areas of growth include consumer products and the battery industry, which is experiencing technology changes because of the increasing popularity of electric vehicles and the need for rechargeable batteries.

Seth Vander Ark, Edgewater’s Marketing Manager, has been with the company for the past nine years. Although the company is promoted through a strong online presence, Vander Ark says attending and exhibiting in trade shows is also a primary way to meet new customers. This includes exhibiting at the recent Assembly Show, held in Rosemont, Illinois and the biennial Automate, which is held in Chicago and is home to over four hundred exhibitors that demonstrate robotic, motion control, vision, and automation technologies.

“That’s a really large show as well,” says Vander Ark. “We look forward to seeing you at our tradeshow events and open houses.”

Working Smarter

A key goal of any successful manufacturing operation is a continual drive toward improving the efficiency of the manufacturing process. Traditionally, this has been accomplished through the adoption of lean production principles, waste reduction using the Six Sigma approach, and similar productivity solutions. These systems have been widely incorporated throughout the manufacturing industry and have significantly improved product quality, production speeds, and perhaps most importantly, the safety of those working in manufacturing plants.

Past Issues

October 15, 2019, 8:26 AM EDT