About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.
Everything in the plant runs much more smoothly. More bottles are being produced, but the pace seems slower since there was a reduction in complexity in the system,” said the plant manager. “We have seen a reduction in the commotion and activity since employees can now work at a constant pace and succeed without as much physical effort. We also have a greater chance to understand the bottlenecks in the manufacturing process. We are reviewing to see where we can make an economic justification for adding automation,” said the plant manager. “We chose the ones that are simple to execute first that run one mold all day, as well as the systems with the highest stress strain or ergonomic safety issues. We are looking for future automation as soon as we can.
The plastics manufacturer had used its manual take out system for its entire history for nearly 20 years. This manual system had several pitfalls including a large amount of scrap, which in turn meant money down the drain in throwaway products. The manual system also lacked reliability and increased chances for injuries. The company brought technology into its facility to help increase the production of quality products while making the plant safer for its employees. The company also hoped to increase its sales by improving the manufacturing process efficiencies through automation. Prior to automation, the company had to turn away opportunities to increase its business due to capacity limitations.
The Robotic SUBTA systems have also created unexpected improvements in the manufacturing process. The company noted a net reduction of 1/2 percent of scrap, adding 500,000 bottles per year to its output simply by virtue of not dropping the bottles. Since fewer products need to be reground, the company also saves money considering the cost to run the regrind machines has gone up greatly as the cost of oil increases. In addition, this reliable process has cut the employee bending movements by 50 percent.