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Lean, Mean and Robotic: Training Saves Company Money
Training Saves Company Money
It’s waiting underground. If you drill down far enough, you will probably hit it. And if you don't have the proper ventilation equipment, you could be engulfed in towering flames. Miners and oil drillers know — it only takes a little spark to ignite methane gas.

Special Products and Manufacturing Inc. helps prevent explosions by manufacturing metal ventilator boxes. This company is serious about creating quality, customized parts utilizing the latest technology and streamlining their business practices for top efficiency. That is why company employees recently received robotics programming training from Collin College.

According to Ed Grand-Lienard, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Special Products and Manufacturing, Inc., the company utilizes robots at all levels of operation.

“We have had a cost benefit on all of the training, but it is three times with welding and grinding because we are using robots, which can produce three-to-one over a person,” Grand-Lienard said.

The industry-driven training was part of a Texas Workforce Commission skills development grant which provided the college with a FANUC robot and the means to provide training via robotic programming expert Dr. Raul Fernandez, program manager of process and design engineering for TMAC at The University of Texas at Arlington.

According to Natalie Greenwell, Collin College director for the Center of Workforce and Economic Development, the closest FANUC robotics training program is in Waco.

“In addition to offering robotics programming skills and experience, this training provides manufacturing employees with the ability to analyze when manufacturing jobs should be performed with a robot or a person from a cost and efficiency perspective.”

Charles Floyd, robot programmer, uses information from the robotics class every day.

“I can drive the robotic arm better, and that will save time. I learned new software, and the programming time was cut by 60 percent. This class will provide knowledge and job security.”

Kenny Morgan, quality inspector, said he came back to work with fresh ideas about the company’s robot.

“I learned new software and different frames we can use to help program movements for parts that are sitting at an angle. That will translate to 10-15 percent time saved.”

The fact that this firm is manufacturing a product that can save lives with a process that is faster and leaner than they ever imagined is not lost on Oscar Martinez, design engineer, who credits the training with immediate application and believes its value extends beyond national boundaries.

“We can apply the knowledge to our future manufacturing training and develop more team members to become best in class in our industry. Also, the basic principles and techniques of this class apply to ‘current’ manufacturing world practices.”

The robotics training is currently available for continuing education students as well as area companies. For more information, contact Natalie Greenwell at  or visit

Reprinted with permission by Allen Image