There has been a great deal of talk about the resurgence, some say renaissance of American manufacturing. The documented phenomenon of jobs returning from offshore to once again occupying the floors of American manufacturers.
Industry pundits have proclaimed that we will never get back to where we were. That automation has already taken a foothold, and those labor-intensive jobs will remain offshore for the most part.
As an injection molder and assembly services provider that specializes in complex, low to medium volume parts, we have been reluctant, no actually I would call it resistant to embrace the move to robots and automation.
Our business model is such that our customers reap the benefit of our machines being shared across our customer base. They do not have the volume or technical expertise to justify doing their own molding, and we can charge them a prorated rate for support and machine use, spreading that cost over multiple customers.
When we start “specializing” that work center with robots that have custom “end of arm” tooling and unique programming, the cost is targeted directly to that customer. In the volumes we typically process, that cost will get exorbitant, and put numerous programs in jeopardy.
So our work is predominantly operator based, where we can hang a mold, make the parts necessary and move on to a new work order, all in the course of a production day. No robot required.
If you paid extra for your mold to run auto, in conjunction with a robot, you may be getting your money’s worth, or then again, depending on volumes and order frequency, you may not.