Holiday Style: Robot & Automation Partners of RIA

December 21, 2007

By Brian Huse, Director, Marketing & PR (RIA)

One way to celebrate a holiday is with a brand new company. DE-STA-CO, a member of Robotic Industries Association for six years, is doing just that – giving themselves the gift of CAMCO-Ferguson – two well-known brands in the automation business.

DE-STA-CO works lean and fills orders the old fashioned way: people helping people. This is made possible by offering everything from clamps and work holding devices of all kinds, to index machines, conveyors and modular automation which of course includes high-tech robots.

Quietly filling more and more holes in the design and build end of the robotics industry, DE-STA-CO now has new “toys” to incorporate into their whole.

With this latest acquisition, the management is blessed with the chance to combine mutual advantages and utilize unique expertise from each part of its new and current business.

For its customers, DE-STA-CO plans to incorporate CAMCO and Ferguson products so they can quickly go from concept to build. These services and products are linked by a company that spans contienents and unites international production technology.

It had been relatively quiet in the automation industry lately. There was a time not long ago when companies were on buying sprees. Then the landscape changed and most companies were looking at ways to capitalize on current assets. Now, it only makes sense to perk up and take notice of the developments at DE-STA-CO.

It was four days before Christmas when I had the opportunity to learn more about this news. I met with John Bubnickovich, Director of Marketing, to see about developments at a newly jumping DE-STA-CO where a good situation is poised to send happy ripples throughout the area.

Speaking of areas, I had a pretty standard Detroit Metro commute on this day to see this special member of RIA. I arrived after fighting through heavy traffic on a cold winter day. The end of the commute was punctuated with the ever impressive sight of the Pontiac Silverdome (once proud home of the Detroit Lions, Monster Jams and even a Led Zeppelin concert), which is just down the road from DE-STA-CO’s headquarters.

The ride and the visit gave me much to think about. I was happy my ultimate destination was a company in a happy position for the new year. It is an honor to spend time with leaders in automation, so I am grateful I had the chance to visit with John. It reminds me that all our members have important business and a competitive landscape that can’t help but produce world-class players.

My best wishes go to all our prestigious members this holiday season, and my hope is that for each and every one the business in 2008 is as strong or stronger than ever. It is always good to hear of someone’s success, so here’s to DE-STA-CO, and here’s to every member of Robotic Industries Association with wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year.


Neiman Marcus Chooses Robots for Christmas Tree

December 14, 2007

By Brian Huse, Director, Marketing & PR (RIA)

FANUC Robots for Neiman Marcus Tree 

Santa will always have elves, but Neiman Marcus figures robots are what’s next for yuletide trees as the company celebrates its 100th anniversary. The flagship store in Dallas has a tradition of commissioning Christmas trees to portray a new theme each year, and for 2007 their eye is on the future and high-tech times.

Robots from RIA Platinum member FANUC Robotics America are on hand to trim the tree and HGTV will showcase it as they broadcast to home shoppers. I received this note about the affair, which explains…

FANUC robots are decorating the Neiman Marcus Christmas Tree at their flagship store in downtown Dallas. The display features a 15-foot tall tree of aluminum rings with a rotating base. Two rotating feeder trees provide various size ornaments. The ornaments are picked and placed by a “family” of FANUC robots – Mom, Dad, and Jr. The HGTV special will feature a variety of unique holiday displays, including the display at Neiman Marcus.  

• December 16, 2007 9:00 PM ET/PT
• December 17, 2007 1:00 AM ET/PT
• December 23, 2007 5:00 PM ET/PT
• December 25, 2007 11:00 AM ET/PT

From what I can tell, one time the tree was created out of shredded money equal to one million dollars, and another time with boughs made of fins from cars circa 1950 and 1960 (plus generous heaps of red taillights from that era). Each year, Neiman Marcus makes a happy spectacle of their Christmas tree unveiling, and we are proud to recognize FANUC for their important role this year.

RIA: Association of Choice for Robot Users

December 10, 2007

By Brian Huse, Director, Marketing & PR (RIA)

User membership is on the rise at Robotic Industries Association. In fact, membership in all categories is up for the year, but a special emphasis has been placed on recruiting companies that use or plan to use robots and results are very good.

Out of 274 members in November 2007, 57 were users. Few trade associations even have a user category, let alone a mix where 20 percent of the membership is from customers in the very market it serves. From its Board of Directors (which includes users, plus suppliers, integrators and researchers) to RIA committees, the Association has always held the interests of users in mind.

One reason users are such an important mix within the trade association is the mandate for safety. In the U.S., the end user company is ultimately responsible for the safety of its workers. Robots present a very dynamic safety challenge thanks to their combination of speed plus power; a wide variety of applications and an ever-increasing playbook of programming options.

Factory workers are more and more likely to operate and maintain robots in today’s global market. According to everything I’ve ever seen and heard, their safety record in North America is stellar.

Robots are used around the world wherever quality and safety is a concern. Robots take workers out of dangerous situations, which is one reason North American unions have been supportive of these multi-axis, reprogrammable manufacturing tools.

Unfortunately, there are places in third world countries where workers still toil under ridiculously unsafe conditions. Many industrialized nations have worked hard to safeguard their workforce with health and safety standards that are enforced by government agencies (such as OSHA in the U.S.). Robots have proven to be not only a good alternative where conditions are unsafe (even life threatening), but one that allows companies to compete against low-wage industrial nations that have no culture of workplace safety.

I recently saw a video that showed four or five guys sitting under a large stamping press that raised and lowered right over their heads. Between cycles, they removed finished parts and inserted sheet metal blanks. The press cycled every few seconds and the men literally had to duck under it each time it came down. How much do you want to bet that for a predictable percentage of the operation, a few of these workers literally became part of the press?

The video footage seems almost too outrageous to be true, but one of our members shared it during the last Robotic Grinding, Deburring & Finishing Workshop, and it seemed completely authentic. I gather the operation was somewhere in Asia.

Of course, the point is that today’s manufacturers have to contend with this kind of global competition. The thing is: robots have become so affordable that the business case of safety plus quality is easily made even where wages are low, and the fact is robots are used quite a bit in China, India and many other places with cheap labor.

RIA embraces and values the user with a very affordable membership category. The Association provides a forum for the user’s voice to be heard by suppliers and integrators, and is a pipeline of information for robot safety and best practices. In fact, RIA sponsors the ANSI/RIA R15.06 Robot Safety Standard, and welcomes participation from user companies around the world.

If you haven’t joined yet, please take a look at RIA corporate benefits. You’ll be in good company.

Click here to see RIA membership details.