[Video] Is Robotic Automation Right For My Company?

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If your company hasn’t made the switch to robotic automation yet, you might be hesitating for one of these reasons:

  • Does my company really need robotics?
  • Why should I even consider this option?
  • Aren’t robotic systems really expensive? 

In this video (transcript below), Mike, Tony, Chris and Brent discuss these questions and provide answers to help you fully understand how robotic systems could benefit you. 

 

What Type of Company Needs a Robot System?

Chris Sharp, regional sales manager:

I don't think there's a size of a company that justifies a robot. So no company is too big or too small to look at investing in benefiting from a robot cell. 

The bigger question is do you have a problem with labor or quality, or are you trying to increase your throughput? Do you have a lot of changeover or have large volumes that justified the robot investment? 

And we can help you out with all of those types of inquiries. All of us have sold into companies that are one- and two-man shops all the way up to major OEMs and tier one, tier two suppliers to the automotive industry. 

So I don't think there really is a size of the company. It's just if you have a problem to solve with welding in terms of quality or labor, whether it's finding good labor or savings on labor, either way, it's worth taking a look at investing in robotic automation

Tony Tushar, regional sales manager:

I have a company in South Dakota, and it's a father and son shop. They bought their first robot and they're thinking of another one already. And then I've got another company in Iowa that has 500 employees that has several robots. 

So I think one thought is if you're not in the automotive industry, you don't need a robot. And of course, that's just the opposite today. Everybody could use one. It's a smaller world than it used to be. So, I think that pretty much covers the reasons no matter how big you are.

Brent Wellman, regional sales manager:

The hundred-thousand-part company is a very simple answer; that’s an easy company to decide. I need a robot or I need multiple robots. 

I'm up in the Detroit market and there's a lot of prototype shops, general fab shops, things along those lines. 

And those gentlemen either have multiple parts or short-run parts, some have higher volumes and other, but the flexibility you can get with automation today you can save up to, you know, thousands of programs, quick-change tooling, those sorts of things. 

So, you know, it, it doesn't really necessarily matter about the volume of parts you have. It's really what are you trying to achieve? And again, do you need better throughput? Do you need better quality? Do you need to control that better? Are you doing a safety part? Do you need to, you know, collect data that you need to track? And the best way to do it is through robotic automation. So part volume isn't necessarily the way to always look at it.

Why Should I Consider a System For My Company?

Brent:

Some of the big factors are what makes you competitive in the marketplace? So, you know, reducing your manufacturing costs,  improving your throughput, improving maybe your rework that you're doing because of your manual process. Improving on those items is definitely a key factor in what would justify adding robotic automation to your welding process.

Tony:

I think I would just reiterate, it's obviously the question is productivity. Cost is big today. Lack of qualified labor, quality of product going out the door. It really comes back to those all the time. One that a lot of people forget - they say it's first on their mind - is safety, the way you're making your product now, how safe is that for your employees where automation, robotic automation can be much safer?

Chris:

I mean, you gotta have a problem to solve. And we can solve a lot of those problems in welding with our robotic automation.

And then the lifestyle, I don't want to overstate this enough. The biggest problem we have in our industry is the labor shortage. So  I can't think of a shop that I went into that wasn't facing that problem. Getting skilled and qualified welders to be there every day around the clock is a difficult challenge for us. And that's a real thing. 

So being able to put in place a robot in that scenario to solve that with your welders you have on hand, I think it's going to be a big, big deal going forward. And definitely a good first step at looking at robotic welding automation.

Robots Are Really Expensive...Right? 

Tony:

Years ago they were a lot more money than they are now. 

Mike Monnin, General Manager, Sales & Marketing:

I think people are surprised to hear that they could get a production robot for  60, $70,000. They don't understand that that's even possible.

Tony:

Right, right. I think just to back up a little, you know, they may come across and say, how much is it? And you give them a ballpark figure for whatever they might need. And they'll say, that's too expensive. 

I ask them based on what is, you know, you say you can't afford to buy this, but can you afford not to buy it? Because down the road, your competitor may say, ‘Hey, that's what I want and that's what I'm going to do.’ 

I think it goes back to the weld cost analysis. Do we look at what are you doing now? How are you doing and how long does it take you to do it? What is it costing you? And then we compare that to a robotic study of the same product and we can show you what that difference is and what your payback will be. So I think the question is, or the thing is that it's too expensive. I think it's cheaper to try to do it than not doing it.

Chris:

Tony is spot-on. I mean, the reasons to automate are so great. 

And again, going back to our current issue which is skilled labor and getting qualified people, we have a lot of customers who are trying to solve that problem. Their welder didn’t show up that morning and it's just, ‘I’ve got to fix this problem.’ Or, they can't get enough welders. We're having to outsource. And typically they're outsourcing to companies that have made that investment into automation. 

So it's really about what's it cost if you don't do anything, and we can help them with that too. And all the factors, whether it's quality, rework, late shipments, just consistent everyday welding nonstop. 

There's a lot of advantages of automating that outweigh any risk that there would be to not do it. So it's very much a question of why not? Then you know how much is it and can ask, how do we justify it and make sure we include all the variables that go into it.

Interested In Learning More? 

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