Setting Automation Benchmarks

Lorik Tool & Automation Inc.
Written by Pauline Müller

Automation and robotics may seem like recent inventions to some but the reality is that several earlier generations laid the foundations needed to bring about today’s high-level technology. Lorik Tool & Automation is a North American trailblazer on this front, having supplied industries across the globe with the best custom automation and inspection machinery for the past thirty-three years.

Lorik Tool & Automation delivers and services some of the most comprehensive tooling, manufacturing, and robotics solutions in the industry. Its expert staff are experienced and will assist clients across the globe at any time.

The company cultivates close relationships with customers and suppliers alike and is currently servicing leading automotive, pharmaceutical, packaging, and material handling outfits due to its quality, innovative machinery. Lorik Tool & Automation is proud of the fact that it creates custom, one-off equipment, specifically tailored to its clients needs.

The team specializes in both the innovative design and manufacturing aspects of its custom machinery. Clients are provided with everything they need from the beginning of every project to the end. The team provides full project management, mechanical design, electrical design, robotics and controls programming, sourcing of components, and all aspects of the machining, fabrication, assembly, testing, approval, and installation processes. Its experienced engineering staff of mechanical designers and controls programmers, licensed tradesman, and apprentices and co-op students are fundamental to Lorik’s success.

Lorik is one of Brantford, Ontario’s largest employers of technical trade apprentices. These include millwrights, machinists, tool and die makers, and industrial electricians. Many apprentices work here at any given time, earning the licenses that will allow them to ply their trades professionally.

The company goes out of its way to welcome fresh talent, especially talented people in search of challenges that demand creative problem-solving, solid technical and engineering skills, and lateral thinking. These are just a few traits that support the development of its ground-breaking machinery and robotics built for some of the world’s best-known manufacturers.

Lorik Tool was founded by Doug Lowe and Ben Schrik on April 1, 1988, creating its name by combining their last names. The company started very modestly, making small fixtures and dies. As it grew, it added small automation projects to its capabilities, and the company never looked back from there. The current owner, Werner Bohner, recalls the switch into automation being a natural progression into fulfilling expanding customer requests, with the spirit of innovation for which the company is known today.

The company, which started in a small industrial unit, has moved and expanded several times since the beginning in order to better service its customers’ needs, each time increasing its footprint and capacity for more automation projects. Even in current times, the company is expanding and growing its team of eighty professionals. Thanks to its ethos and family values, some staff members have worked here for over thirty years, starting around the same time as the owner. Sometimes, several generations of the same family join the company.

Werner started working at Lorik as its third employee in June of 1988 as a junior tool and die maker. He worked his way up to a lead hand, shop foreman and then general manager in 1999, finally purchasing the company in 2007. His innovative, forward-thinking approach combined with over 40 years of experience in the industry has helped shape the company into what it is today. This would not be possible, however, without the rest of the team at Lorik.

In 2008, Werner’s son Daniel started at Lorik, completing his co-operative education terms as part of his degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Waterloo. After graduation, Daniel worked fulltime in the controls department, performing the electrical design of the machines as well as all aspects of controls programming: PLCs, HMIs, robotics, vision, et cetera. Over the following years, Daniel transitioned into the manager of the controls department, then to a sales position, and finally taking up the reins of his current position as Vice President three years ago.

Today, this father and son team has established a succession plan that provides continuity for employees, clients, and suppliers. “There is a future to this place, and we want people to know that,” say Werner and Daniel.

Everyone on this diverse team can explore and develop their professional skills, supported by the innovative work that is performed at Lorik every day. Due to the volume of custom machine building the company does, every day is interesting, different, and demands new solutions, creating a perfect environment for the adventurous spirit.

COVID-19 proved to be no match for the capacities of Lorik, as it continued to supply its portfolio of longstanding clients. “We don’t have many customers, but we have long-term ones,” says Werner. During this time, the company saw a significant increase in the demand for machines that make personal hygiene products and consumer goods. It also sold more robotic cells to clients in automotive industries and others than ever before.

The team has had their fair share of frustrations with supply chains, as did companies the world over. However, they have come up with several alternative redesigns, turning a time of crisis into an opportunity to delve into deeper layers of sophistication on a number of projects. This ability to extend and build on the team’s capabilities is a major contributing factor to Lorik’s fundamentally different take on the industry.

Instead of specializing in one particular aspect of what clients need from a tool and automation manufacturer, the company has attentively cultivated all the skills and services needed to be established as a one-stop shop. Naturally, the willingness to go far on projects has helped establish meaningful relationships with clients who know that they are safe in the hands of Lorik Tool & Automation. Lorik Tool & Automation values its word, honouring its commitments every step of the way. “When we say something, that’s what we mean,” says Werner, underlining the importance of being willing and able to adapt to clients’ needs as robotics sales continue soaring.

Technology has been developing at phenomenal speed over the past half-decade. As a result, the team must keep abreast of the latest developments. “Our people have to constantly retrain and be up to speed, as well as do research on new technologies,” says Daniel. All-encompassing, ongoing training means massive gains for clients, as machines that work better and faster earn more, in both cost savings and profits.

The company takes growth seriously, because sustainability is of the utmost importance. With its best-ever growth stimulated by increasing market demands for custom automation, the company’s financial health and growing staff count help create the conditions to cultivate a rosy future. Lorik Tool & Automation is excited for what the future holds.

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