My Daddy’s Robots Are Orange!

Last Friday, I received an email from KUKA – celebrating 120 years of providing innovative ideas and solutions for manufacturing processes. The feature picture (see below) says, “Thinking Orange”. It reminded me of a story I heard from Jerry Schrott, Applications Engineer at KC Robotics.

Mallory & Jerry Schrott

When five-year-old Mallory Schrott colored a robot picture at her preschool class, her classmates told her she colored it the wrong color. Mallory, whose father is an Applications Engineer and Project Manager at KC Robotics, colored her robot ORANGE. The other preschoolers colored their robots grey and black. Mallory quickly retorted to her classmates, “My daddy’s robots are orange!” And indeed they are! Many of the robots that Jerry Schrott programs and integrates for KC Robotics’ customers are KUKA Orange. Mallory has visited our office many times and take great interest in the robots. And she knows her colors!

KC Robotics is proud to be a KUKA System Partner. Our experience integrating and installing KUKA robots spans various industries and applications, including Plastic cutting, Palletizing, welding, and specialized applications for defense research.

For more information about KC Robotics’ integration services, call or email us. (513) 860-4442 or contact@kcrobotics.com

KUKA Robotics

What is a Robotic Integrator and why do I need one?

Robot Integrators customize the robot to fit the needs of the end user’s application. The Robot Manufacturers do not usually do this because they do not have the staff or resources to handle the needs of all end users. Integrators fill this gap with specialized design, engineering and programming resources.

A good integrator is a process specialist and is trained and supported by their robot manufacturer partner. They will help to define the problem or need in the end user’s process, find a solution, build it and test it. They will then integrate the robotic solution into the customer’s manufacturing processes and provide training to make sure that the end user can operate and maintain the system properly and successfully.   

What to look for in a robotic integrator – The 5 C’s

Capabilities

Robot System integrators are not experts in every application. They will specialize in a select few. Most applications are very process intensive and selecting an integrator with a skillset that matches your application is key. You may want to think twice about selecting an integrator that specializes in material handling to do a welding application. Look for an integrator that has a track record of successful applications similar to yours. If your system requires custom tooling, find an integrator with experience in the type of tooling you need. The End of Arm Tooling gives your system functionality. A good integrator will understand the functional requirements of the tool and guide the tool-maker on design, payload, moment of inertia, and process requirements.

Concept

Consider the concept of the system closely. You want to make sure that the process is balanced and that you are not solving one issue by creating another. How is the integrator utilizing the features and technology within the system? Are you able to shrink the footprint of the cell or take advantage of a collaborative application by utilizing Functional Safety? Is the integrator rehashing something that was done once 20 years ago without taking advantage of today’s technology? A good integrator is a creative problem solver.

Cost

Make sure the true cost of your robotic system is clear in the proposal. Find out what the actual deliverables are so you can compare proposals more effectively. Understand the payment terms for the system. An integrator might charge 30% down with the order and then a milestone payment when the system engineering is approved. And then other payments along the way. Discuss how the integrator handles engineering change orders.

Capacity

Lead times to delivery fluctuate. Can the integrator deliver your system within the timeframe you are looking for?

Certification

In 2012 the RIA rolled out a Certified Robot Integrator Program in response to the needs of the industry. It is a benchmark for evaluating technical and robot safety as well as the overall business practices of integrators. The certification involves a rigorous process that includes an onsite audit, practical assessment of key personnel, safety training, etc. As your integrators if they are certified or working toward certification.

Also contact the robot manufacturer and ask if the integrator is part of their certified partner program and in good standing with the robot manufacturer.

Leo Liske Joins KC Robotics, Inc. as Systems Group Manager

Leo Liske Joins KC Robotics, Inc. as Systems Group Manager

Press Release: 07/11/18

West Chester, OH – KC Robotics, Inc. is pleased to welcome Leo Liske to the company as Systems & Service Manager. He will report to Jack Justice, General Manager. Jack says, “We are very lucky to bring Leo on board. His experience, work ethic and management style fit right into the company’s culture and goals.”

With over 28 years of experience in design, programming, installation, training, and sales of robotic equipment, Leo is well-recognized in the robotic automation industry. He has experience in multiple robot brands and a strong background in robotic welding.

He comes to KC Robotics from KUKA Robotics where he was a Sales Application Engineer since 2008.  Prior to that, he was a Project Engineer for Progressive Systems, a Project Manager for PRI Robotics, and a Robot Technician for Automated Concepts.  In addition, Leo retired as an Engineer Captain from the Army National Guard.

As KC Robotics’ Systems & Service Manager, Leo will be responsible for engineering, design and system build operations, working closely with customers, vendors, and OEM partners, as well as directing a team of engineers and robotic technicians. Leo is anxious to get started: “I am excited to implement new management strategies, empower each employee to reach his/her potential, and inspire teamwork in my department. Our goal will be to achieve the company’s objectives of quality workmanship, on-time delivery and a high level of communication.  This is a great opportunity for me.”

Leo is the fifth new hire at KC Robotics in 2018. His depth of industry knowledge will further strengthen the systems group and support new sales. The company is expecting unprecedented growth over the next three years. Current year sales are on track to increase 30% over 2017.

About KC Robotics:

KC Robotics is a process-driven robotics systems integrator to a wide range of industries, specializing in arc welding, material handling and material removal applications.  As an authorized integrator for KUKA Robotics, Yaskawa Motoman and ABB Robotics, KC Robotics is committed to improving customers’ profitability and productivity through automated solutions. For more information about KC Robotics, visit www.kcrobotics.com.

FORBES: How AI Might Create More Work Opportunity

Automation’s positive impact on jobs, work environment and lifestyle…

Lan Xuezhao, Forbes Blog Contributor, affirms the views expressed in our blog on May 23, 2018: Will Robots Take My Job? In the Forbes blog (see link below) we read the same truths about the necessity for robotics and AI, as well as an optimistic conclusion of the effects of automation on the job market and society:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lanxuezhao/2018/06/06/how-ai-might-create-more-not-less-work-opportunity/#169ed1f65699

 My view is much more optimistic. I believe automation is a necessity in the near term to maintain productivity. In the long run, we may even improve current lifestyles and collectively work better – fewer hours, for one, but also more safely, more healthily – with the help of AI.

 

JDRF One Walk at Kings Island – Team KC Robotics Walks the Walk

 

Last Saturday, KC Robotics’ employees walked to help find a cure for Juvenile Diabetes at the JDRF ONE WALK at Kings Island. It was an amazing experience filled with activities, entertainment and the celebration of coming together to change the future for everyone living with this disease.

Members of Team KC Robotics muster before the start of the walk

It was a fun morning. M. Dooros is already planning to walk in 2019. The JDRF volunteers were so appreciative! What a great event!

Miniature horses are used for therapy to help Juvenile Diabetes patients.

As the leading global organization funding T1D research, JDRF’s mission is to accelerate life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent and treat T1D and its complications.

Aluminum Arc Welding

Aluminum Arc Welding Case Study

Project Challenges

  • Provide a flexible robotic welding system to automate welding of new designs of fence posts and gates.
  • Provide a complete turnkey robotic welding system that is able to accommodate xx variations of parts with minimal tooling change over.
  • Large awkward parts consist of .250” aluminum welded to .060” aluminum tube and .020” wall tube welded to .125” aluminum extrusions.
  • Each gate requires up to 28 individual welds.
  • Improve productivity and shorten lead time
  • Reduce dependency on offshore suppliers
  • Make aesthetically pleasing welds on the outside of the fence post and foot that do not need to be ground down prior to painting.
  • Outside surface condition and visual condition from the weld joint on the inside mounting plate is critical.

KC Robotics Solution

KC Robotics provided a pre-engineered welding system, KCR Systems 300 cell including:

  • KUKA KR16 L6 Robot, an extended reach robot with controller and base riser
  • (2) 500kg headstock / tailstock positioners
  • Fronius TPS GMAW digital welding power supply, integrated welding package with 500A
  • bulk wire feeding system
  • Automatic wire cutter and torch reamer
  • (2) operator station (one per welding station). Functions: Cycle Start, Emergency Stop, Hold, Alarm Reset
  • System Safety Package, including Safety fencing, light curtains, safety interlocked access gates. Meets ANSI/RIA R15.06-2012 standard.

Fixtures / Tooling Details

KC robotics provided manually operated welding fixtures for the fence post welding operation that is able to accommodate 5 posts per cycle.

KC Robotics provided a welding fixture that combined both manual and automatic clamping for the gates. The fixture was designed and built for a quick changeover to 3 different styles and 4 sizes within those styles.

Project Results

  • The robot system meets or exceeds all the project goals. It allows the customer to build the parts needed for the product launch in house in one shift and have the additional capacity for future growth.
  • The system requires 1 operator vs 4-6 skilled welders.
  • Flexible system accommodates several models and allows large and small batch runs with easy changeover.

Will robots take my job? Fact or Fiction

PUBLIC DEBATE

The public debate over the effect robots on jobs continues every day on radio talk shows, TV news, and academic research, to name a few. According to a study conducted by Pew Research in May, 2017, 77% of Americans think robots will take over many jobs in coming decades, but only 6% of U.S. adults say they have personally lost their job, or had their wages or hours reduced, because their employer replaced elements of their position with a machine, robot or computer program.* Perhaps the disparity is due to a perception promoted by media and academia that robots are taking our jobs and destroying our society. We have created a frenzy of concern about automation that the facts to do not prove out.

McKinsey Global Institute wrote an extensive report in December 2017 titled, Jobs Lost, Jobs Gained: Workforce Transitions in a time of automation. The first key finding of the report states:

Automation technologies including artificial intelligence and robotics will generate significant benefits for users, businesses, and economies, lifting productivity and economic growth. The extent to which these technologies displace workers will depend on the pace of their development and adoption, economic growth, and growth in demand for work. Even as it causes declines in some occupations, automation will change many more—60 percent of occupations have at least 30 percent of constituent work activities that could be automated. It will also create new occupations that do not exist today, much as technologies of the past have done.*

There is no denying that manufacturing jobs in the US have diminished, and partly because of robots. In a 2017 report on manufacturing jobs, CNN Money reported:

The glory days of manufacturing were the 1970s. Back then, over 19.5 million Americans earned their paycheck from factory work. It’s been a fairly steady decline ever since. Today only 12.4 million workers remain in the industry. *

However, during the same time period, U.S. manufacturing output rose steadily and is now at an all-time high. Because of robots, manufacturing is more profitable, manufacturing jobs are safer, the economy is stronger, and unemployment is at a record low. Robots took jobs away from manufacturing but those jobs were replaced by new jobs in other industries. This is the cycle of technology that we have seen with every new wave since the industrial revolution.

WHY TECHNOLOGY DOESN’T TAKE OUR JOBS

We have only to look at our own history since the dawn of the industrial revolution to see how innovation and technology change our jobs rather than take employment away.

  • In 1900, 40% of the US population worked in agriculture; today the total is less than 2%. After the advent of the steam engine and industrial machines, the economy was dependent on factory jobs. Our society changed and we survived.
  • Before the invention of the automobile, there were more jobs associated with horse and carriage trade – horses, horse upkeep including farriers, stables and feed. The automobile changed our society and our jobs. New businesses created new occupations in automotive factories and highway construction, as well as oil and gasoline industries.
  • In the 1980’s, computers changed our offices. The fallout was a decrease in the number of administrative professionals employed by large companies. But McKinsey Global estimates that 15.8 million jobs were created due to computer technology.
  • In more recent history, smart phones changed the way we communicate and access information. The App industry, with earning opportunities for small companies and start-ups, developed as a result of smart phones. Apple estimates that App developers have earned over $86 billion through their App Store alone.

If our history is any indication of how society will change with an increase in automation, we will adjust. A 1966 report by the US National Commission on Technology, Automation, and Economic Progress stated, “The basic fact is that technology eliminates jobs, not work.” This is the truth we have seen over and over in the last 150 years. Technology changes demand for products, it creates new industries, and it initiates an increase in long-term productivity.

THE SIVER LINING: REPLACING THE SHORTAGE OF SKILLED LABOR

Many manufacturers nationwide are having a difficult time finding quality skilled workers. A case in point is the welding industry. Based on U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, the American Welding Society (AWS) estimates a welder shortage of 372,000 in the U.S. by 2026. By adding welding robots to their process, manufacturers reduce their need for hard-to-find welders and increase their ability to compete with overseas manufacturing. One welder trained as a robotic welding technician multiplies his productivity. Randall Ireland, Welding Specialist and Project Manager at KC Robotics, says, “Not only is the robot more efficient and faster, each time he programs a robot arm with a welding torch, he is cloning his knowledge.” Robots are not going take over the need for trained welders; you still need the expertise and skills of a welder to program the robot. Ireland says, “You can teach a welder how to program a robot but you can’t teach a robot programmer how to weld.”  Replacing skilled labor with robotics not only makes good business sense, it fills a gap in our workforce and replaces dangerous jobs.

CHALLENGES AHEAD

Throughout history, society has always benefited from the introduction of new technology. It does not come without challenges or problems. The transition from an agrarian society to an industrial society was not easy, but it was successful and necessary for our society to advance. Likewise, we must continue to embrace knowledge and advance new technology. Automation and robotics are here to stay. Our challenge is not to find ways to disrupt them but to think ahead and manage the risks associated with change before they become problems.

In summary, Americans feel threatened by automation and robotics, but history tells us this fear is ill-founded. We have every reason to believe that we will survive and prosper from the advancement of robotics in our society. Our workforce will adjust and we will be a happier, smarter and safer people. As the great philosopher, Captain Kirk from Star Trek once said, “You know the greatest danger facing us is ourselves, an irrational fear of the unknown. But there’s no such thing as the unknown — only things temporarily hidden, temporarily not understood.”

BIBLIOGRAPHY

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/10/04/6-key-findings-on-how-americans-see-the-rise-of-automation/

https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Global%20Themes/Future%20of%20Organizations/What%20the%20future%20of%20work%20will%20mean%20for%20jobs%20skills%20and%20wages/MGI-Jobs-Lost-Jobs-Gained-Report-December-6-2017.ashx

https://www.investmentbank.barclays.com/our-insights/robots-at-the-gate.html

https://www.motoman.com/blog/addressing-skilled-welder-shortage

http://money.cnn.com/2017/04/07/news/economy/us-manufacturing-jobs/index.html

“Imagine Amazon on Steroids”

I recently read John Slater’s post at http://capmatters.com – Is Industry 4.0 the New DotCom Boom?  “Imagine Amazon on Steroids” are his words. John is describing a new world in the not so distant future where digital automation will transform the global economy and create better jobs and better lives. Throughout the article, John describes how advances in technology have never hurt the US economy. With each new breakthrough, from personal computers and microprocessors to the internet and robotics, our economy has boomed with new business and new products. Some sectors of the economy are always left behind. He warns that we must learn to adapt to the new reality or be one of those left in the dust.

John Slater believes automation will be the next area for capital investment:

The stage is set.  Interest is building.  The world of automation is ripe for a spark to catch the imagination of the financial community, like the 1995 Netscape IPO which marked the start of the Dotcom boom.  Soon we will witness a major capital investment boom that transforms the economy in ways we cannot yet foresee.

For those of us in the business of automation, we already see the growth and innovation that will spur this investment. We understand that automation in any form is a natural evolution of technology. For 50 years, industrial robotic automation has changed our factories and our lives. Because of robotics, working conditions are safer, products are more affordable, and the number of “sweat shops” has been reduced. I look to the next ten years to bring major changes to our business. At KC Robotics, we are setting the groundwork now, for we have no intention of being left behind in the dust.

 

AUTOMATION SALES ACCOUNT MANAGER

KC ROBOTICS IS EXPANDING AGAIN! We’re looking for an Automation Sales Account Manager.

Are you ready to make a difference in the world of industrial automation? Join KC Robotics, Inc. as we change the face of industry by creating a safer, cleaner and more productive manufacturing environment.

An Automation Sales Account Manager is needed for our West Chester, OH facility. The Account Manager is responsible for achieving KC Robotics’ sales goals and assigned strategic account objectives. This person maintains and expands relationships with current customers and identifies/qualifies new potential customers that fit the company’s strategic objectives. The Account Manager represents the entire range of systems, solutions and services KC Robotics offers its customers, while leading the customer/account planning cycle and ensuring customers’ needs and expectations are met.
As a member of the KC Robotics team, you join a robotic systems and engineering group devoted to utilizing innovative technologies and creative problem solving to build custom automation solutions. For responsibilities and Qualifications, visit our website: https://www.kcrobotics.com/careers/automation-sales-account-manager/