Concept to Delivery: “The Missing Link”


It’s common to see gaps between the customer’s vision and delivered systems.

On the other side of all the spread sheet build pages and concept meetings where needs are carefully measured, fitted and dressed in tailor-made possibilities, programmers and engineers often deliver something different than the customer’s vision. The more innovative the project, the greater the chance of a tailoring error. And even in the best fit, a few uneven seams may have to be reconfigured later. Read more

A Cinderella of an ROI story:

How one small operation
used ingenuity to overcome
its automation hurdles

While automotive parts suppliers and electrical/electronics manufacturers lead the brigade in industrial robot sales, the value of automation remains a murky issue for millions of other small manufacturers.

Low volume, high quality product manufacturers in particular see no ROI for moving beyond manual assembly. Industrial robots carry hefty price tags, often with formidable installation costs attached.

These smaller operations remain the Cinderellas of the industrial manufacturing world, watching bigger-budgeted players move into a much-heralded glory land of leaner, time-efficient production via unprecedented reliabilit...

Tips From the Field

Here are a couple of tips from the field:

Scenario 1:

A recent installation took a little longer than expected. I thought I would send this out as a helpful tip to maybe help someone else avoid this potential time gobbler. One particular aspect of the operation was using vacuum to pick up a slip sheet. This was problematic in the shop and it seemed an equipment set issue at first. After troubleshooting the mechanical side of the install I decided to bypass the vacuum to see if it would stack boxes.


Waiting on GI/GO [ ] = xx?

When I bypassed the vacuum, the system started like it was going to run, and as many of you have seen, just seemed to wait. Most of the time it is simply a prox not made or ...

Robot; New or Used?



Buy new or buy used?

Buyers facing a huge expense have long struggled with the pros and cons of that decision. Now manufacturers are up against the same questions when determining whether to buy new or used industrial robotics for their plants.

And it’s not just a question for the one industry; in fact, many manufacturing segments have even greater opportunities to purchase small-scale secondhand robotic cells for welding, painting, material handling, and CNC. From poultry production plants to plastic injection molding and cast and blown film, and assembly industries, facilities of all sizes and types are in a global race to automate sooner rathe...

Robotics Cost Consideration



“I need a 2 year payback” to make Robotics “worth it.” This used to be the only accepted logic. More and more credence has been given to the long term value proposition of reliable robotics.

Robots are producing continuous results for nearly 15 years with nominal maintenance costs. Standard maintenance cost of a Fanuc or ABB six axis is about $2,500 every 1.5-3 years depending on run hours. You are probably spending that in labor alone every 3 months babysitting your current method of automation. When you factor in how much of your maintenance team is dedicated to this and down time and parts and frustrated labor replacement, it doesn’t take long t...

Collaborative Robotics

National Robotics Week is calling attention across the country to the myriad of exciting ways in which robotics technology impacts society, both now and in the future.

Universities and science centers hail great things to come, with promotions bringing together industry and students to inspire newer and greater Science, Technology, Engineering and Math-related developments.

Certainly there is much worth celebrating — but the industrial robotics segment lags somewhat behind the fanfare. In many ways, we are still quietly struggling to determine the best and most practical application of today’s cutting-edge technology in our facilities.

The buzz for the last year has been the strides...

Vision And Color


Did you realize most vision systems guiding industrial robots are color blind? They see in gray scale only.
That’s an important consideration because understanding and accommodating your robot’s vision process can directly impact productivity.
Vision systems utilize contrast to find edges to score within a pre-set threshold to identify an object and take the programmed action. Many times objects are missed due to lack of contrast. colorgreyscaleimage
One of the leading causes for contrast issues is lighting. If your system appears to be “missing” objects, you may need to address the amount of light and the direction from which it is coming.
If the problem persists, rem...

Robot Called In Sick

The cost of avoidance

“The thing about a robot is that it doesn’t call in sick.”

I’ve heard this claim made over and over. So have you. The only problem is that it’s not exactly true.

Without service, a robot will malfunction as certainly as any other precision machine — yet there are many expensive industrial robots operating in plants where service is not provided at any interval, much less within the time frame recommended by the manufacturer.

This came up during a recent visit to a plant where I was called in to assess the noise the robot was making in J1 of a Fanuc 710. My first question was, “When was the last PM?”

The answer was surprising, g...

Why Use A Consultant?

Automation projects pose a question often difficult for decision-makers to realistically address in the planning, budgeting, ordering and initial installation phases:

How will we mitigate our downtime costs during this transition?

The answer has a direct, bottom-line impact on total project cost. And it hinges in large measure on whether this is your operation’s first automation project, the experience level of your project manager and how much freedom from day-to-day operations your project manager will have to oversee the minutiae of project detail.

The more experience a business has with automation projects, and the more experience its project manager has, the more weight the business ...


Does your maintenance team need another tool to restore equipment to operation after a fail?

Are there times when one more piece of information would have saved hours or days in production downtime?

Utilizing HMI (human machine interface) technology is the solution.


When properly programmed, an HMI is much more than a control start/stop device, becoming an advanced diagnostic tool.

Its real value lies in:

— Being able to manipulate solenoids, cylinders, actuators, motors, and other electrically controlled devices. With a visual indication of your sensor status at each point, your technicians will be able to determine any electrical cause for production stoppage.

— When married with ...