Sawyer robot from Rethink Robotics takes over cutting work from human colleagues at Harrison Manufacturing in Mississippi.
Harrison Manufacturing, a US-based custom plastics injection molding manufacturer, has taken a step forwards in automating its assembly line.
At its Jackson, Mississippi facility, the company recently deployed the Sawyer robot from Rethink Robotics in a bid to boost the efficiency of its production processes, with a knock-on bonus for product quality.
Company founder and president Scott Harrison said that the family-owned business has already seen a range of benefits, including reduced labor costs and increased throughput, and adds that the robot only took a few hours to set up.
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Sawyer gets to work
With Sawyer, Harrison Manufacturing has also been able to improve the consistency and quality of its products, mostly plastic components for use in the automotive industry (including parts that go into interior trim, safety belts and car seats) and consumer products.
Sawyer works on ‘degating’ plastic parts, a job that involves removing excess plastic from a finished part once it emerges from injection molding. This cutting work is repetitive, said Harrison, and can lead to human error, wrist strain and even injury in staff.
“We’ve been seeking an automation solution for this task for some time, but traditional methods weren’t affordable or effective for our situation,” he said. The company simply does not have the floor space to accommodate a bulky traditional robot, nor would it want to foot the costs involved.
Sawyer has provided an answer. The one-armed robot with a compact footprint was launched by Rethink Robotics in 2015 at prices starting at around $29,000. Its main selling point is the ease with which non-techies can program the robot to perform simple tasks on manufacturing lines without having to first learn in-depth programming skills.
“Sawyer allowed us to use our employees in less strenuous tasks, while increasing throughput with extended shifts, so we can better meet growing customer demands,” said Harrison.
He now has plans to install a second robot. “I have another Sawyer in the box,” he confirmed. “After our experience of quick deployment with the first robot, I expect it to be up and running just as smoothly as before.”