Reaching world class manufacturing standards and adding capacity were goals of a New Jersey company that makes components for aerospace and ground vehicles. The pursuit of excellence in serving both the commercial and military sectors is critical since a few mistakes can easily ruin a positive reputation earned through hard work.
Whippany Actuator Systems designs and manufactures specialized electromechanical actuation components. The choices for adding capacity were either adding another machine or implementing a robotics solution. Whippany Actuator Systems says on its website that “our goal [is] to meet and exceed the high expectations of our customers.” Whippany’s management team had its own expectations and wondered about the long-term impact on the company and employees.
Whippany turned to a Universal robotic arm that was placed at a machine tending station. The maker of collaborative robot arms states that the return on investment can be achieved in about 195 days. It replaced a person who had to do the same task hour after hour and day after day. Opening a door, taking out one part and putting another part into the machine and then closing the door can be mind-numbing with no professional satisfaction.
Another benefit is the robot is highly mobile and can operate on its own for many hours with almost no supervision.
Critics say automation’s danger is replacing human workers. But the task at Whippany had no sense of professional satisfaction and now employees are working in more highly skilled areas.
Those who supervise the robots had concerns about safety. However, the robot automatically stops if it bumps a person.
Whippany Actuator Systems plans to implement two more robotic cells and has achieved their expected increase in capacity. The company also sees that the technology has strengthened its workforce.
>Read more by A3 Association for Advancing Automation, June 8, 2016.