Think again: Robotic expansion, efficiency, safety
If robots aren’t helping to expand your profitability, quality, and safety, why not?
Have you briefed management on the array of robotic options available to expand profitability, quality, and safety? Control engineers and those involved with automation and instrumentation have a special opportunity to understand the benefits of integrating one or more of the latest model robots into workflows; increasing throughput and quality; relieving humans of boring, repetitive, and dangerous roles; and increasing competitiveness to ensure the enormous benefits that come with a vibrant manufacturing base.
These were among messages delivered at the annual business meeting of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), Robotic Industries Association (RIA), Automated Imaging Association (AIA-Advancing Vision + Imaging), and Motion Control Association (MCA). Jeff Burnstein, president of the four associations, said the record 450 attendees know that automation makes them more competitive in their markets. A3 is trying to ensure the right message gets out through mainstream media: that robots save jobs and manufacturing by keeping plants competitive, profitable, and open.
While most of us know great customer service when we experience it, learning how to improve it can be less obvious, especially for those involved in engineering and technology, suggested Dennis Snow, president, Snow and Associates Inc. As a customer service consultant and former Disney employee, Snow told attendees to take a customer perspective, examine details, and seek ways to impress customers.
Almost like being there
Robotic telepresence was demonstrated throughout the meeting. Erin Rapacki, director of marketing, Suitable Technologies, helped Scott Hassan, president and CEO, Suitable Technologies, onto the stage, not because Hassan couldn’t climb the stairs, but because he was 2700 miles away and attending via his company’s telepresence robot, Beam. Employees working remotely can feel more connected using such a robot. Schools can have A-grade guest lecturers, and management or line technicians can check in to see how employees and processes are doing.
“We use Beam in all parts of our business, attending meetings, interacting with employees, and giving tours,” Hassan said, emphasizing the advantage of being able to traverse and turn toward someone or something. Robot navigation is achieved with the arrow keys. (See photos of Rapacki and Hassan interacting, in this article, online.) Rapacki said driving to someone’s work area with Beam, and asking, practically in person, “Hey, can you take care of this?” makes a request impossible to ignore.
Robots in space, Washington, D.C.
Also at the meeting:
- Adam Steltzner, chief engineer and development manager, lead landing engineer, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover Project, discussed extra-terrestrial robotics. www.nasa.gov/curiosity
- Robert Atkinson, president, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, discussed competitiveness, innovation, and productivity: the global race for advantage.
- Larry Bock, Science Spark founder, discussed the growth and benefits of and intense interest in the USA Science and Engineering Festival, this year to be April 26 and 27.
- Harry C. Moser, founder and president, Reshoring Initiative, told about the wisdom of using total cost to justify automation for reshoring.
Medical robotics, economic trends in manufacturing, collaborative robotics, and standards were among other topics covered at the meeting. If you think these are your parents’ era of robots, think again.
- Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering, firstname.lastname@example.org.
See more on related topics. www.controleng.com/robotics
Share your robotic successes or lessons learned. www.controleng.com/contribute
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Annual Salary Survey
Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.
There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.
But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.
Read more: 2015 Salary Survey