Many machine builders talk about seeing what their customers see. However, fewer were founded by an end user who built his entire business around knowing other users' points of view.
Before he founded Janda Co. (www.jandawelders.com) in 1960, Bob White, Sr., served in the U.S. Navy and worked for Chrysler Motors, where he maintained and supervised welding machines. So, when he started his resistance welding machine company, he knew what his customers were going to want and need.
"My dad repaired a lot of machines, and so he always kept the user's perspective," says Bob White, Jr. "He designed and built machines that were simple, easy to use and always at a good price. He also didn't want our machines to be complicated and believed this was good engineering."
Located in Corona, California, Janda started out developing standard welders, which now include 42 types of resistance welders. Much of Janda's growth has been fueled by creating special welders for specific applications such as constructing tail-cones for Boeing's airplanes. Most of these specials were firsts in their respective industries.
Over the years, Janda also began to design and build weld forming machines and zig-zag wire equipment. One of its customized welding machine lines forms, assembles and welds wire into 8-ft, 3-D panels to which users add stucco or foam to create wall sections or other construction components. "The 3-D panels were invented when a customer came to us with the idea, and my dad designed the form and machine to do it," explains White.
Some of the panel welders can be 120–130 ft long, and naturally their controls have evolved over time, too. They started out hardwired and then gained Ethernet ports four or five years ago. Now, they have 20 Ethernet ports, Rockwell Automation's CompactLogix PLCs, six or seven ac inverter drives, one servo drive and PanelView HMIs to help supervise 12 welding controls and I/O points.
Besides moving to Ethernet-based controls and saving wire, White reports that Janda benefited as PLCs shrank over the years. "A PLC with 20 I/O used to be 18 x 18 in., but now it can fit in your hand, and that saves us a lot of space," he says.
"Using Ethernet and smaller controls requires a lot less wire, and this helps us keep our machines simple, which follows my dad's machine building philosophy," adds White. "My dad was old-school and still liked to design on the board, but he was also fascinated by new technology. We actually put in some smaller PLCs before he passed away, and he liked them and thought they were pretty cool." The company founder died in June 2008.
Today, White adds that Janda's latest welders are even more automated and are available with built-in weld checkers capable of stopping a machine if it's unable to achieve a good weld, which reduces scrap parts. The new welders' controls also have Internet access that can transmit machine performance anywhere and even allow remote repairs. All these new technologies further simplify the machines and keep on following White's father's philosophy of keeping it simple.