HANNOVER MESSE 2019, 01 - 05 April
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Cobots

Robots compensate for the shortage of skilled workers

The example of the American plastic blow molding manufacturer Cox Container shows how consistent automation contributes to bridging personnel shortages: Cobots have recently been boosting productivity there.

17 Jun. 2018
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Robots compensate for the shortage of skilled workers (Photo: Rethink Robotics)

Cox Container relies on the Cobot model Sawyer recently introduced by Rethink Robotics , which these US innovators had brought to the previous Hannover Messe . The plastics processor not only wants to compensate for the shortage of skilled workers with Sawyer, but at the same time wants to upgrade the workplaces of the existing staff. The US manufacturer identifies the difficulty of retaining highly qualified employees in the long term as one of the key problems in its own industry. There is a particularly high demand for personnel because the manufacturer’s production facilities operate 24 hours a day. Individual customer requests also require high flexibility in the form of constant adaptations of the mechanical production. In fact, by using Cobots, the need for employees could be reduced by up to 50% in certain areas. Sawyer was fully operational within one day, and Cox Container expects the resultant ROI after about six to eight months.

The efficiency of the packaging department benefits in particular from the cooperation between man and machine. For example, a Sawyer Cobot handles the multi-layered storage of bottles in a carton, including the placement of carton dividers between the individual layers. Only a minimum of human intervention is required. As a result, the company has more personnel available to handle demanding tasks. The collaborative robot handles simple and highly repetitive work steps. The injection molding manufacturer Plastic Molded Concepts (PMC) is pursuing a similar concept involving Sawyer Cobots. They intend to automate up to 30% of the production steps that way. The Boston Consulting Group could be right with its assessment in this respect. It predicts that by 2025 Cobots will do 40% of all current jobs in an automated manner.