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

Scott Hassan, president and CEO, Suitable Technologies, attended the A3 conference in Orlando from Palo Alto, Calif., via his company’s telepresence robot, Beam. Erin Rapacki, director of marketing, Suitable Technologies, holds a microphone so Hassan coulRobotic 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.

Beam, telepresence robot, allows mobility and face time, without being in a location, according to Scott Hassan, president and CEO, Suitable Technologies, who attended the A3 conference in Orlando from Palo Alto, Calif.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.

- 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,


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