déjà vu all over again: cobots provide flexible factory automation during labor shortage

in robots @ work, sawyer @ work by Sue Sokoloski

Once again we traveled to Wisconsin, this time to visit with an injection molding company, Plastic Molded Concepts.  It never ceases to amaze me how much manufacturing takes place in Wisconsin. Great news, right?  Yes and no. Larry Floyd, President and Founder of PMC estimates that the unemployment rate in Wisconsin has dropped to almost 2% (US unemployment is just above 4%).  And it could drop more since a multinational electronics manufacturer has announced plans for a new plant in Wisconsin.

A PMC employee works at their Eagle, Wisconsin location, where the manufacturer has deployed Sawyer, one of the collaborative robots (cobots) from Rethink Robotics, assist during a labor shortage.

What’s not surprising?  The labor shortage. There is fierce competition for labor throughout the US. So many manufacturers tell us they can’t fill the jobs they have available – not able to add another shift, not able to take customer orders because they can’t fill them.  According to Larry Boyd, PMC suffers from a revolving door syndrome – they cannot keep workers on the line.  Flexible factory automation is necessary for the survival of your manufacturing facility, not just its growth.

PMC picked Sawyer as their first collaborative robot (cobot) and the answer to their need for robotic automation.  The team at PMC had the cobot up and running in no time, surprised by how easy the Intera software was to use.  And that was even before they hired their first automation engineer, who, by the way, hails from the New England area, graduated from WPI (one of Rethink’s first education customers) and grew up learning on Rethink’s collaborative robots.  But that is a blog post for a different day!

Next, check out the rest of the Rethink Robotics blog and be sure to subscribe above for alerts sent directly to your inbox. Also, take a look at some of the other industries in which Sawyer cobots are working.


About the Author

Sue Sokoloski

Sue has spent the last two decades marketing for emerging technologies, building new categories, and applying science to the art of marketing. It took one look at Baxter to sign on to Rethink Robotics – a human-safe robot out to change the world. When not promoting “all things Sawyer and Baxter”, she is focused on “all things food”: where to eat it, how to prepare it, how to write another cookbook about it.

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