For Australian manufacturing businesses times are tough. The Australian dollar remains high, good labour is hard to find and expensive, Government continues to implement new taxes and electricity simply doesn’t stop rising. The lure which is offshore manufacturing for local companies is so strong it is becoming harder to find Australian companies who are actually making things in Australia.
For those who are Australian manufacturers, finding a strategy to reduce costs in your manufacturing business can be a difficult and frustrating process with what often seems to be a one way street offshore.
Of course reducing costs shouldn’t only be about selling equipment, reducing warehouse size and reducing lines. The right investment can often make significant changes to your profitability.
Recently I came across this ‘common sense’ robot from Rethink Robotics. Designed by Rodney Brooks, the former MIT professor who invented the best-selling Roomba vacuum cleaner and its descendants, Baxter is an early example of a new class of industrial robots created to work alongside humans. There are three key reasons why this new class of robot can change your manufacturing business, or any business for that matter where repetitive manual handling is required.
Firstly it is safe to work with other humans. Baxter senses when people are nearby and slows its work rate, as well as having the smarts to avoid a collision with another object.
Secondly it can be programmed by anyone avoiding the greatest expense of robotics – programming and maintenance. You simply show it the task you require to be done and the work starts.
Thirdly and most importantly, its cheap. The list price as shown on the Rethink Robotics website is $22k before options and shipping. This potentially places it into the hands of most small business owners.
And so if you are looking for a strategy to improve your manufacturing business, perhaps technology such as this can help provide you with an X factor.