Festo’s Mobile Mechatronics Lab Rolls into Airfloat

Inside of Festo's Mobile Tradeshow Display

Chip Arnold (right), a district sales manager with Festo, chats with Airfloat assembler Dave Welch about the latest automation solutions.

We at Airfloat are accustomed to in-person visits from machine component makers and other vendors; however, they seldom arrive at our door with a semitrailer full of their latest and greatest wares. But that’s exactly what happened in mid-August, as Festo’s Mobile Mechatronics Lab (MML) paid us a visit.

For more than 80 years, Festo has been a leading manufacturer of pneumatic and electrical automation technology. Their line of 30,000 components includes actuators, motors, PLCs, sensors, grippers, vacuum components and more. The MML provides a rolling showcase for these cutting-edge automation solutions.

“We recognize it’s getting harder and harder to get out to tradeshows,” said Chip Arnold, a district sales manager with Festo. “The thought behind [the MML] is to bring the tradeshow to the customer.”

Staffed with experts in the field of automation, the MML has been visiting OEMs and large end-users around the country for almost two years. The 53-ft.-long, 25-ft.-wide trailer boasts 20 working displays, a 55-in. video screen, air conditioning, a 40-KW generator, a 5-HP compressor with 90-gallon reservoir, and a self-leveling feature that allows near-factory conditions.

Coming to a City Near You

Before arriving in Decatur, the MML made stops in St. Joseph, Mich.; South Bend, Ind.; and Joliet, Ill., and is working its way to Mason City, Iowa. “We try to follow the nice weather, so we hit the Northeast and Midwest in the summer months,” Chip explained. “Then we go out West and down South in the winter.”

The MML takes about an hour to set up and slightly less to dismantle. On a busy day, it will visit two different facilities.

I was really impressed with the capability of the equipment, especially from a repeatability and precision standpoint. — Airfloat engineer Jordan Shafer.

The Airfloat associates who toured Festo’s Mobile Mechatronics Lab liked what they saw. “I was really impressed with the capability of the equipment, especially from a repeatability and precision standpoint,” said Airfloat engineer Jordan Shafer. “I thought the best example of these qualities was the display that used a photo eye to separate yellow and green balls. The results were very consistent from run to run.”

“The most interesting item that was applicable to us was a valve terminal block that will allow different class sizes to all be mounted to it without adapter plates,” added Scott Faust, another Airfloat engineer. “There are no other valve companies that have a terminal block like this. This means you can have a class-two valve for higher air consumption needs side by side with a class-one valve for smaller air consumption needs.”

For more information on the Festo MML, including a schedule of upcoming stops, click here.

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