Bryan Kirkey, Owner of Ecoshel | John Belding, Director of the AMC | Dana Hodgkin, Owner of Progress Engineering
Ecoshel is a company that produces cedar siding panels that utilize a unique, patented installation system that minimizes installation effort, waste, extra weight and materials, and extends shingle life. Ecoshel’s owner, Brian Kirkey, wanted to move his company to the state of Maine to be closer to the supply of premium wood. Brian sought out the Maine Technology Institute for help and they referred him to the Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMC). Bryan met with the AMC staff and engineering student interns and discussed his plans and outlined what he wanted to accomplish; a state of the art manufacturing facility for his product in the State of Maine. The AMC’s capacity to support Ecoshel with innovative Engineering and Manufacturing services was instrumental in Bryan’s decision to move his manufacturing facility to the state. During a recent interview Bryan stated “(he) would have never come to the state if it weren’t for the AMC development facility here”. The AMC was tasked with the job of designing, building, and commissioning the prototype manufacturing assembly system which included custom turnkey equipment combined with existing technologies. The AMC sought out private industry partners like Dana Hodgkin, owner of Progress Engineering for additional system integration and controls support. Working with Ecoshel and Progress Engineering the AMC was able to develop a novel automated solution that can scan, optimize, and cut the raw lumber to produce a shingle every second with the specialized features unique to Ecoshel’s system. Once the shingles are made they are then assembled in to Ecoshel’s patented panels.
Development, design, manufacturing, and testing took place at the Advanced Manufacturing Center on the University of Maine campus.
Project completed on 6/27/14
The AMC staff and engineering student interns worked with the client and suppliers by first building a 3D computer model of the entire assembly system layout, integrating standard wood industry equipment, and scanning technology from Progress Engineering. The AMC staff and engineering student interns then focused on developing the new mechanical systems that were unique to the Ecoshell system and was able to create custom machinery and control cabinets. A, efficient punch machine was developed to notch the cedar panels without damaging them and modular ergonomic assembly pallets were developed so the shingles can be assembled together quickly and easily. The AMC had to meet strict production requirements involving accuracy and minimum rates of production. Upon completion of the project, the equipment will be shipped to Ashland, Maine where it will ultimately be operating in a brand new facility, built specifically for Ecoshel product production.
The Ecoshel project has stimulated the Maine economy, created over 11 new jobs and given even more invaluable experience to University of Maine Engineering students.
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