Rick Prescott, Bill Dalling, Kody Rathe

Objective- Minimize the amount of manual effort and time required to assemble office divider frames


BackGround- Harpers, a unit of Kimball International Marketing, Inc., is a quality-based, highly-automated metal manufacturer with total capabilities from design to delivery. Through the expertise of cross-trained employees, Harpers manufacturing operates in a build-to-order environment.

Along with producing metal office furniture casegoods and file storage products, Harpers manufacturers and assembles its own line of “Reasons” office divider panels. These office panels are currently assembled manually on framing tables.

Harpers management is seeking a way to increase the throughput of these office panels while minimizing cost to accommodate a rising demand for this particular product. Harpers is committed to employee and environmental safety and considers employee safety a top priority.


- Meet current throughput of 250 frames/day
- Be simple to operate and maintain
- Convert to manual mode in under 15 minutes
- Satisfy applicable OSHA regulations and recommendations
- Maintain current product quality levels
- Produce frames of 3 different heights (39”, 54”, 60”) and 7 different widths (24”, 30”, 36”,42”, 48”, 54”, 60”)


- Be able to be upgraded
- Double current throughput
- Be composed of “Off-Shelf” components
- Operate Reliably



Plan of Attack-
We believe that the road to a fully automated framing table can best be traveled by breaking the distance up into legs. The first leg is to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the current frame building process. A successful automation system speeds the work of its human operators rather than getting in their way. After studying the current process we feel that the next leg of the journey will be to improve the rail positioning, aligning, and clamping mechanics of the framing table. If all goes well the final leg will be to consider how to best improve the screw driving process. Here are are ideas:

Positioning: We believe that we can decrease the amount of time it takes to load the table by allowing workers to be less precise with their movements when placing the frame rails. We also plan to dramatically increase the tolerances of screw hole alignment. Also we will decrease the chance of scratching paint on the rails. These tasks will be accomplished by incorporating easy load positioning blocks into the table design. Take a look at the positioning BLOCK PROFILES.

Alignment.: Currently it requires a worker's time and micro muscle group usage to properly align both the horizontal and vertical rails against their stops. We plan to combine the alignment. step and the clamping step into one step that is faster and less strenuous for the worker. Take a look at our ALIGNMENT and CLAMPING CONCEPT.

Clamping: Clamping is currently accomplished by the worker manipulating a lever. This action is cumbersome and can be frustrating if rails are not positioned perfectly. Current tolerance issues are also a concern with the current clamping system. We plan to fully automate the clamping of the vertical rails upon placement. Take a look at FINGER CLAMPING. Horizontal rails will be clamped against the vertical rails by a worker pressing a button. Take another look at our ALIGNMENT and CLAMPING CONCEPT.


Stay tuned for automated screw driving concepts.


Predicted Results-
We believe that a table build around the concepts discussed above will decrease both the time and manual effort required to assemble frames plus offer a few quality perks. Take a look at our predicted TIME IMPROVEMENTS. Take a look at our predicted HUMAN FACTOR IMPROVEMENTS.



Team Members

-Bill Dalling: E-Mail, Resume, Web Page
-Kody Rathe:
E-Mail, Resume, Web Page
-Rick Prescott: E-Mail, Resume, Web Page