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Author Archive | Michael Gurney

Collaborating on New Robotic Projects

No matter where robotics might take you next, a collaborative R&D approach can help realize what needs to be accomplished.

control systems engineersHave you noticed how ubiquitous robots are becoming? We’re used to seeing them in manufacturing environments welding car frames, assembling circuit boards or palletizing boxes, yet these days you can even find them pouring drinks on a cruise ship, moving LED screens at a concert or solving a Rubik’s cube.

We recently worked with two different startup companies with a vision for new product niches. Both lacked the manufacturing process knowledge to bring their ideas to life, and were stymied because there were no established norms to follow or OEMs with standard solutions. Their search led them to us because of our broad industry experience in constructing automation solutions, but more specifically because of our reputation for taking on challenging robotic automation projects. And trust me, neither of these are industries an automation solution provider would traditionally target.

The purpose of this blog is not how we appealed to a non-traditional industry, but rather how we approached these projects and applied our technology and industrial manufacturing knowledge to develop a solution that met their unique needs. Continue Reading →

Collision Avoidance Key to Operator and Robot Safety

Manufacturing environments are busy, and avoiding collisions between robots and operators is a high priority. As more manufacturers add robots, there’s increasing interest in ensuring they work safely with each other and with people.

The robotics industry can take pride in its impressive safety record with more than 1.5 million industrial robots operating worldwide, according to Carole Frank, safety director for the Robotic Industries Association (RIA). As robotic applications increase, it’s vital to continue to be vigilant about robotic safety. In fact, risk assessment is now required by new safety regulations: ISO 10218-1 and -2 delineate safety requirements for robots, replacing ANSI/RIA R15.06.

Collision Avoidance

Many robots are certified by a third-party source or approved by their manufacturers. That’s good, but it’s also important to be sure the robot is safe in its surrounding environment. So take a holistic approach and evaluate each industrial application rather than each device separately. Continue Reading →

How to Determine Robot ROI

As robotic performance continues to accelerate, now is the perfect time for mid-sized companies that have been waiting for a decline in robotic prices to deploy these automated solutions. Here’s how to determine the value of this decision.

robotic-pick-place2While reading a report by The Boston Consulting Group, I learned that global sales of industrial robots rose by 23 percent last year, with deliveries expected to double to 400,000 a year by 2018. The report also predicted that industrial robot pricing will continue to decline over the next decade by more than 20 percent. If this holds true, it will make more applications viable for robots, thereby decreasing the investment required for integration—which is the primary roadblock keeping many manufacturers from moving forward with robots. In fact, the one question I hear most often from clients is: “What’s the ROI on my investment in robotic automation?” Continue Reading →

How to Select Industrial Robots

water-roboticsThe challenge in choosing a robot for your operation is often not in knowing whether or not you need a robot, but choosing which applications are well suited for a robot to provide the best return.

According to the International Federation of Robotics, robot sales have increased more than 45 percent in the last five years. More and more companies, across all industries, are looking to robotic solutions to increase manufacturing capacity, reduce costs, and improve worker safety. Today’s industrial robots are smarter, faster, adaptable, and collaborative. With advanced vision and sensing capabilities, robots can perform complex tasks that were not even possible a few years ago. All of these new technologies make this an exciting time to be considering an investment in an industrial robot.

As you evaluate which process in your manufacturing environment you want to target for a robotic application, be specific about the problem you want to solve and consider all of the cost reductions a robot can provide: minimizing waste, creating efficiencies, increasing production volume, improving safety or reducing labor costs. These cost reductions can serve as the basis for your return on investment criteria and will often be important factors in determining if a robot is right for your designated application. Continue Reading →

Reflection Can Reveal Best Practices

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This is an exciting time to be in the automation business, as there are tremendous opportunities to integrate technologies and revolutionize the production of goods. Reflecting on your processes can help make the most of them.

As the year comes to a close, it’s not uncommon to reflect over the past year. We recently had an opportunity to do just that, but in a very thorough way, by completing an application for a national award. The process was both inspirational and educational. I found myself reflecting on how we do business and realized that we are using many best practices that I want to share with you.

Hire the best and brightest.
We have an exceptionally smart team that thrives on learning new technologies and jumps at the chance to do work other companies either can’t or won’t do. We encourage employees to provide suggestions and feedback, especially if it would enhance or encourage continuous improvement. We challenge our engineers to stay on top of emerging technologies and to work with different industries.
Continue Reading →

Transforming Mid-Sized Manufacturing Companies

How four automation technologies, with lower price points today, can dramatically change your manufacturing game.

From a birds-eye view of the industry, automation seems so pervasive. Yet even today, a surprisingly high number of companies still haven’t made the investment to streamline their production lines with modern automation technologies. This is especially true of mid-sized companies who have been waiting for hardware prices to decline. Many of these companies are now seeing their competitors implement automation solutions and gaining a significant advantage in the marketplace.

If this scenario sounds like your company, here are four applications to seriously consider that can springboard you to the front of the pack in 2016.

Vision Systems. Advanced laser scanning and other vision technologies, such as thermal imaging, near IR, and millimeter wave cameras, offer clear advantages because of their ability to see the environment beyond what the capabilities of the human eye and make real time decisions. Coupling this technology with robotics provides the ultimate in manufacturing flexibility, reliability, and efficiency and represents the current vanguard in manufacturing automation. Continue Reading →