Sawyer smart, collaborative robot drives plastic part production for the automotive industry

in robots @ work by Sue Sokoloski

On the factory floor at plastic injection molding company Tennplasco.

“While the economy is doing very well, we’re having a difficult time to get people to work, especially on off shifts on the injection molding floor.” –Danny Rose, GM at Tennplasco

Plastic fabrication company Tennplasco knew they needed an innovative industrial automation solution.

A smart, collaborative robot is flexible, can be moved to and from work stations and is safe for people to work next to.

For years traditional industrial robots have been used in cages and behind safeguarding on unattended operations performing tasks like spot welding and painting. But when it comes to robots and people working closely together in workcells assembling small plastic parts requiring dexterity and inspecting for customer quality, their more agile cobot cousins are a better fit. For Tennplasco, a collaborative robot fills in nicely on these jobs, for which people are hard to find.

Sawyer, a smart, collaborative robot from Rethink Robotics, works alongside its human counterparts.

After putting their Sawyer collaborative robot to work alongside human co-workers at its Lafayette, TN plant, Tennplasco quickly realized a return on investment in fourteen weeks.

“For small- to mid-size manufacturers, selling the CFO on the cost of deploying automation can be a challenge. Our team was willing to try it, and with Sawyer, we reached our ROI in just three and a half months.”

A smart, collaborative robot works at plastic injection molding company Tennplasco, handling and inspecting plastic parts on the factory floor.

Rose doesn’t see collaborative robots as job stealers, and neither do their workers. Instead, they’re necessary tools for staying competitive, solving for a labor shortage, increasing human productivity and meeting the needs of their automotive clients.

“Our customers, especially those in the automotive industry, trust us to support their businesses and meet their changing needs, but to do this, we need both workers and the technology to be innovative and nimble – Sawyer has made that possible.”

Next, learn more about Tennplasco’s collaborative robot experience in this customer profile and take a look at the other industries in which cobots are working. Also, be sure to subscribe above and check out the rest of the Rethink Robotics blog.



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.

2 comments on this article

Myrobostation November 15, 2017 at 11:55 am

For Tennplasco, a joint robot works well in these jobs, where people are hard to find.

Myrobostation January 2, 2018 at 11:08 am

Over the years, traditional industrial robots have been used in cages, protecting functions that are not protected, such as spot welding and paintings. But it is a great fit for their active cobot relatives when robots and small plastic parts work closely while working with the need for discrimination and the quality of customer testing.

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