Integro finds new ways to scan items faster than the human eye

  • Posted: Saturday, May 10, 2008 12:01 a.m.
    UPDATED: Thursday, November 6, 2008 12:04 a.m.

By Paris Goodnight
Salisbury Post
With business moving at the speed of light these days, it takes a high-tech operation to keep track of products going through the manufacturing process.
That's where Salisbury's Integro Technologies Corp. comes in. Shawn Campion's Lee Street business sets up optical systems that scan production lines for any number of products to see if one item in the blur of many needs to be pulled because it doesn't meet specifications.
It's something no human could do at the speed items like soft drink bottles move down a line. But Campion is quick to point out that his business isn't meant to just cut out workers. Instead, it's to get better results from people who can look at the small percentage of items removed from a production line and figure out what caused the anomaly.
"Humans use a more discerning eye," Campion said. "We streamline the process. If a human does it, it's more dangerous."
That's especially true in heavier operations, such as one that involves making wheel rims that weigh about 25 pounds each. He showed two versions of the product a before and after finished wheel that they keep on site here, as they do all products they work with.
Then he logged on to a view of the actual production facility in Ohio that can be monitored with computations down to milliseconds over the Internet. That's why he's also a big supporter of Salisbury's plans to get into the fiber optics business because it would make his work flow much faster over the Internet.
Integro's own Web site is www.integro-tech.com.
Campion says Integro products can monitor anything that's machine made, but the company doesn't get into things like weeding out fruits or vegetables.
Applications have been used to make sure stickers go on bags of pet food correctly so they don't cover up the brand name or on CDs so they don't obscure the artist's face. Integro has also worked in postal sorting.
"It locates the barcode, like a high-end supermarket scanner," he said.
Campion, a Pennsylvania native and 1996 Penn State graduate, joined his brother, Thomas, in the business in 2005. His brother originally started it in 2001. Campion is a mechanical engineer by training, but said you need a good background in physics and software programming in his line of work.
Starke Farley, another engineer, is a minority shareholder with the Campion brothers in Integro.
He could have set up shop just about anywhere he wanted, but he picked Salisbury and moved around a bit before settling into the leased flex space set up in a warehouse project that Glenn Ketner and his son, John, are renovating along Lee Street.
Campion also said other service businesses like Integro would be well served in picking sites in Salisbury, noting its proximity to interstates and major airports from Charlotte to Raleigh.
He worked for a while from the renovated Cheerwine building across the railroad tracks, and was close to picking another site before locking in on the Ketners' site along a planned Rail Walk multipurpose development.
"We saw the potential and came to an agreement quickly," said Campion, who added flex space (with a warehouse/office combination) isn't always easy to find.
While much of the 2-foot-thick brick walled structure was sound, other areas of the 9,000 square foot site like the roof needed a lot of work. The metal window frames were in good enough shape to use, but all new glass went in and some bricked-over windows were reopened to allow more light in. From those windows, Integro workers can look out over where Jimmie Blackwelder helped spread the fame of local barbecue from one of his original restaurants along the railway line.
That's spot where his wife, Leah, has been urging him to let her put in some flowers. They have two children, Kerry and Abby.
Campion said construction workers did an extraordinary job in getting the site ready to move in within about 10 weeks.
Integro only has seven employees total, with four working in Salisbury. But Campion said his company and the new office/production site have "tons of room for expansion."
The building was last used by a cut/sew manufacturing operation, but its original purpose after being built in the 1920s was as a wholesale grocery setup along the railroad tracks.
Glenn Ketner said much of the space had to remain in its original state, such as beams being exposed, for the project to be eligible for tax credits.
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Integro is a systems integrator, merging software with items like a $4,500 lens that offers a 99.9 percent true view. That's what is needed to scan things like 1,500 bottles moving down a production line every minute for flaws that may be a 10,000th of an inch. Campion said Integro has done work for Coca-Cola in the past and now is involved with PepsiCo.
Campion showed off circuit boards that create a standalone computer that attaches to the lens, along with drill presses, wiring and other equipment needed to build products for the manufacturing processes of each customer.
Integro uses a lot of products made by Cognex, Campion's former employer and the world leader in the industry. "We program their devices," Campion said. "We make them a lot of money."
Contact Paris Goodnight at 704-797-4255 or pgoodnight@salisburypost.com.

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