Back in 2015, the idea for the West Bend Block Party was born. It started with a small committee, and at the first meeting, the topic of musical entertainment was discussed. Committee member Brandon Irby said, “I know the perfect person to handle music for the block parties. Her name is Sarah Fiegener, and she runs a non-profit called Musician’s Haven.” That’s how I met Sarah. But in all these years, in being involved in several activities with her, I didn’t really know about her “day job.”
Sarah is originally from Newcastle, a small farming community in central Oklahoma. She attended Oklahoma State University, where she met her husband, Andy. Being from an agricultural background, Sarah majored in Agricultural Mechanical Engineering. Andy, who hails from Clinton, another small Oklahoma town, focused on Mechanical Engineering Technology.
After graduation, Andy took a job as a design engineer for Caseco in Claremore. Both Sarah and Andy had aunts in town, so they were familiar with it from childhood visits. Sarah said, “I used to think the trains were fascinating!” Sarah went to work for Mesa Products in Tulsa. She was more interested in product design, so she eventually took a different position with another Tulsa company, where she was able to get a hand in on the design aspect.
Andy moved up the ranks at Caseco, earning the title of Director of Manufacturing, but he was ready for a change. He decided to go out on his own and do contract work. A short time later, Sarah joined him in his effort, and they created their current company, Rye Design, in 2013.
Rye Design is a custom automation company that specializes in robotic integration. Oklahoma is a huge manufacturing state, yet Rye is the only company in the area doing this kind of work. Basically, there are several tedious, repetitive jobs that are currently being done by humans, but could be done by a robot. This would free up the human worker to use his or her brain and be more beneficial to the company. A recent client example is a company in Enid. They needed to add a third shift to keep up with production, but didn’t have enough employees. Rye Design built a robot cell for them to allow the company to meet their demand.
Sarah and Andy purchase FANUC robots from Japan. The robot is essentially a dumb moving arm when it arrives, and the Fiegeners set up the controls and programming so the robot can do its job. Safety is a key element in all of their designs. A touchscreen controls the movements, and the pattern can be changed at any time.
Now, robots are pretty cool. And some companies just want the latest toy. They are really expensive, so if it doesn’t fit into the budget, Sarah and Andy step in and design a new piece of machinery instead.
The automation process goes something like this: Rye Design gives a quote to the company, then designs the machine (or the robot cell) in CAD. After they get it all figured out, they present the idea to the client, making any necessary tweaks. Then they order the parts, or have them made by a welder or machinist, assemble, and program the final creation.
There are currently no other automation companies in Oklahoma. Our state is vital to the manufacturing industry, and companies are starting to see the benefit of automation. While there are similar design firms in neighboring states, Sarah and Andy are happy to focus on their home state and help to grow the industry.
The Fiegeners started in the Innovation Center at Rogers State University. They are currently located at 802B W Blue Starr Dr. Andy and Sarah live in town in an historic farmhouse, and are dedicated to helping Claremore be the best it can be. They are both active in Claremore Collective, as well as their other project, Musician’s Haven.