CNC Machine Shop and Manufacturer Employs Helpful Robot in 2018
We all know that automation and robots are crucial to machine work in the 21st century. Manufacturing companies hiring robots in 2018, or, more accurately, buying or constructing robots, is nothing new.
Most of the time these robots are merely just thought of like any other machine, such as the machines operated by CNC controllers. Fitzpatrick Manufacturing, however, is a CNC machine company that hired a robot who is a little different.
Meet the Cobot
The collaborative robot, or “cobot,” that Fitzpatrick Manufacturing, a Michigan CNC machine shop and custom manufacturer, has hired is a much more engaged and vital part of manufacturing operations than your typical robot that can only do one job. This particular robot is employed working overnight preparing materials so that they are ready to go when the morning shift arrives.
The cobot’s specific current job is manufacturing component parts for the motion control industry, choosing short or long parts, loading them into a honing machine, removing them when honed to put in the wash station while honing the next part, then air drying the part at a separate station to prepare it for packaging for shipment.
Collaborative Robot Improving Efficiency and Changing Minds
The benefits with respect to efficiency are obvious. Instead of having to hire and pay overnight staff, or relying on the regular business hours staff and losing valuable productivity, the eight hours that would normally be downtime in the facility are hours that the cobot is busy working. With no lights or other factory expenditures, other than those need to power the robot and the machines, the cobot is able to package about 300 parts by the time workers arrive in the morning, giving them a huge head start on the day.
Naturally, the plant’s workers, especially the older generation, were a bit skeptical about the cobot joining their ranks. There was a natural trepidation that the “robots are taking our jobs.” However, they quickly realized the true promise and benefit of robotics, AI and automation, which is to allow machines to do the boring, repetitive jobs that humans don’t really want to do, freeing them up to do more interesting and more productive work.
The Future of Collaborative Robotics and Manufacturing
Now that the team at Fitzpatrick Manufacturing has seen just how beneficial one cobot has been, there’s a good bet that they will add more of them to the lineup. And you can be sure this little Michigan machine shop is far from the only one that has had this revelation. As more companies start experimenting with collaborative robots and seeing the amazing benefits with respect to productivity, efficiency, profits and even company morale, don’t be surprised if collaborative robots become as common in the 21st century as automated assembly lines were in the 20th.
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