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when it comes to packing plastics, this cobot just works

in robots @ work by Jeff Green

A Sawyer collaborative robot assists one human counterpart, allowing the second to add value elsewhere in the factory.

“Attendance and attitude. I can teach the rest.” That’s how Gary Fox, plant manager at Cox Container, described what he looks for in an employee.

You might think it would be easy to hire and retain workers based solely on those attributes. But for tedious factory jobs that are often dull and repetitive, attracting employees who not only show up every day, but are willing to do the same task over and over again is a difficult endeavor. That, along with low unemployment, is a large part of why this plastics blow molding manufacturer in Troy, AL, turned to collaborative robots(cobots) as a solution to its labor issues.

In one work cell at Cox, packing plastic bottles for several hours at a time was too much work, leaving a single employee exhausted and worn out at the end of the day. But the volume wasn’t enough to justify two full-time employees. So, Fox deployed a Sawyer cobot to assist the one employee in the cell, allowing the other to add value and do more meaningful work elsewhere in the factory.

The staff has been very positive about their new work arrangements, and employee retention and labor shortages are less of a concern for Fox. The team can now focus on productivity and providing superior customer service. As for the collaborative robot on staff, he had this to add, “Sawyer has not been late. Sawyer hasn’t had a break. Sawyer hasn’t left early. Sawyer’s been very dependable.”

So with attendance and attitude covered, all is good on the factory floor at Cox Container. And to top it off, Fox expects to achieve an ROI with Sawyer within six months.

Next, subscribe above and check out the rest of the Rethink blog here. Or take a look at some of the other industries in which collaborative robots are being used.

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About the Author

Jeff Green

I'm Jeff Green, senior content and social media strategist at Rethink Robotics. When I'm not socializing Sawyer and Baxter, our smart, collaborative robots, I'm usually caught up in the home tornado, also known as my three kids. Love them, my wife, old-school Chinese food, movies, and of course game-changing technology.



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