Ten years ago, Dearl Thomas took on a challenge posed by his son’s business partner. Create a machine that can fold flat boxes into winding boards. If he succeeded, Thomas could potentially have the start of a nice little side business to go along with his career as an aerospace engineer.
Ten years later, Thomas’ design, along with the assistance of two Dorner 6200 Series conveyors, are producing winding boards by the thousands every day for Liam Enterprises, the Arlington, Texas-based company he founded as the result of his innovation in the mid-1990s.
“The way my son was doing it, all the box folding was done by hand,” Thomas said. “I told him I could probably automate it and get the price down. He said if I could do it he’d give me the business.”
The equipment design works by feeding a flat cardboard pieces onto the conveyor, which pulls it through a series of mechanisms built on top of the conveyor to fold it into an 8-inch wide, 30-inch long, 1-inch thick rectangular box. Thomas replicated his design and has two processing machines operating. When running at full speed, each machine and the company’s 15 employees, produce up to 1,400 winding boards an hour.
The two Dorner 6200 Series conveyors measure 6-inches wide and are 12-feet long. Thomas said the conveyors, which operate about eight hours a day, have performed very well for him.
Building Thomas’ two 6200 Series conveyors to his exact specifications of 6-inches wide and 12-feet long wasn’t a problem for Dorner. It manufactures all its conveyors on a build-to-order basis.
Thomas said he’s considering adding a third line to further increase productivity, and is looking at powering the new line with a Dorner 3200 Series, which is a heavy-duty conveyor platform.
Although now a retired aerospace engineer, Thomas has turned his innovative design into a profitable business.