ABB Robotics: 10 reasons to buy a robot now; see photos, videos

Think you shouldn't be spending money on a robot now? These 10 reasons may prove why lean times could be the best time to invest in robotics. See photos. Link to robot videos.

July 29, 2009

The economy may be slow in 2009, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan ahead for better times. These are the "Top Ten" reasons why you should purchase an ABB robot today, according to Ted Wodoslawsky, vice president marketing, ABB Robotics North America.

Wodoslawsky told Control Engineering and Plant Engineering on July 28 that there’s still alot of low-hanging fruit with return on investment under a year or less, if the robot avoids a human injury. "An economic recovery will happen. When it does, will you have positioned your company to take full advantage?" Here’s why and how, according to Wodoslawsky.

ABB Manufacturing assembly robots improve cycle time and product quality, Wodoslawsky says.

1. Lowest cost / highest quality wins market share. The economic pressures on companies and consumers are forcing everyone to carefully consider their purchases. Gone are the days of "throw away" products. People are demanding both low cost and high quality. Automation, especially the flexibility offered by robotic automation is a great way to achieve both.
2. Your competition is investing in automation – If you think your competitors are not investing in automation, think again. Who is investing in automation? The best run companies, looking to not just survive the economy, but thrive in it.
3. Automated competitors will take market share – The companies with the best, leaned-out automated manufacturing processes are the ones who are better positioned to respond to the quickly changing demands of customers. An automated, flexible manufacturing process is able to change product mix, and product make-up "on the fly." The companies employing this strategy are your competitors.
4. Robots are affordable. When industrial robots first appeared in the marketplace they were expensive, as generally is any new piece of technology. However, costs have been pushed down with mass production. Prices for industrial robots have never been better. Today’s prices for your products are the new floor as well. Manufactured products aren’t like oil, where the price constantly goes up and down. Today’s new low is tomorrow’s baseline price for your product – automate to reduce costs and maintain margin.

High speed ABB IRB 360 Delta robots can be used for numerous picking applications.

5. Taking business back from competitors – With the economy slowed and production in many factories at a standstill, now is the time to begin a strategy to take business back from your competitors. Meet with an ABB engineering consultant who can design a solution to automate your factory which will reduce costs while increasing productivity and throughput. When the economy improves, you will be able to produce a better product at a quicker rate, thus improving customer satisfaction and allowing you to take business back from your competitors.
6. Integrator capacity is limited – Systems integrators have vertical market expertise, and there is not an excess of capacity in key disciplines. If you wait until the recovery begins, all the integrators will be busy installing systems for your competitors and you will be at the back of the queue.
7. Banks are lending – You may think that you cannot afford a robot because banks are not lending, but that’s simply untrue. In an MSN News article published February 12, 2009, Bank of America chairman and CEO Ken Lewis said, "We are still lending, and we are lending far more because of the TARP program." He told lawmakers that his company extended more than $115 billion in new credit to consumers and businesses during the fourth quarter (of 2008). Moreover, robot manufacturers, such as ABB Inc., are willing to work with you on extended payment terms to help you get what you need into your plant, now. MSN News, February 12, 2009, "We are still lending, assert CEOs of top U.S. banks")
8. Ease of introducing new equipment when not operating at full capacity – Installing a new robot system and incorporating it into your day to day operations takes time. Employees need to be trained on how to operate it, how to program it, perform maintenance on it and, of course, learn new safety skills. If you’re operating at full capacity, you may not be able to afford the time to install automation. Do it now while production is slower, to get ready for the surge.
9. Supply and demand – Everyone is working off their inventories, including automation suppliers. Robots are large, complicated machines, requiring special castings, mechanics, motors and electronics. If you wait for the economy to fully recover the demand for robots will be up while supplies will be limited. The result will be long lead times on all automation equipment and components. Don’t wait for a full economic recovery.
10. ABB robots are at the heart of lean manufacturing – With more than 160,000 robot installations worldwide, ABB is the leader in industrial robot sales and is at the heart of numerous lean manufacturing operations. Industrial robots reduce operating costs, perfect quality and productivity, i.e. optimized cycle times and throughput, are environmentally friendly by reducing scrap, exhaust and energy, have protected employees from dangerous tasks, can easily adapt to multiple jobs and add flexibility to future product lines.

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See videos of ABB robots in action .

– Edited by Mark T. Hoske, editor in chief, Control Engineering