Robots Keep Party Going for Many Companies

February 3, 2008

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

Potato chips and beer get very popular around Super Bowl Sunday, and in Modesto, California, there is a company that knows what it takes to keep the production lines running so the party never ends. Their customers bottle beer, package munchies and generate the power that pumps into your home so you won’t miss a single play while you watch your favorite game on TV.

Much of northern California can thank Industrial Electric Company for doing the repair work and field service that keeps the lines running at a slew of food and beverage companies. Founded in 1935 to repair electric motors, the company has grown and prospered through good times and bad, and along the way moved into technology such as PLCs (programmable logic controllers) and HMIs (human machine interfaces).

This busy company does warranty repair work on welders from RIA members Lincoln Electric and Miller Electric, rewinds AC and DC motors, fixes gearboxes and generators, and supports robotic work cells. Many of its customers are in the food industry, many of which need help not only with traditional automation but also the robots they are installing to handle tasks such as packing and palletizing.

Food and the agriculture business are the economic engines of this part of California. Like many places in the U.S., the economy is a big topic here, where just today (February 2, 2008) an Oakdale Hershey plant closed its doors now that it has a new facility up and running in Mexico, but Industrial Electric is one of the bright spots of the region as it adapts to new customer needs and has expanded its workforce accordingly.

What I keep learning when I visit companies like Industrial Electric is that plants and factories all over the country are building new business on the advancements in automation within their customer base.

As the economy figures itself out for 2008, robots will be there to help companies control costs and improve productivity. Business will be good for those companies that can integrate robotics into their strategy, and a good network is one of the benefits offered by Robotic Industries Association.

In the spirit of full disclosure, if you are reading this you should know that my cousin works for Industrial Electric, and I’ve met others at his company when they came to the RIA seminar Robots 2006 in Las Vegas. It was my honor to have a grand tour of their Modesto headquarters while I was visiting my California friends and family – a little trip I tacked on to an RIA Membership Committee meeting earlier in the week.

It takes a good game plan, the ability to adapt, and lots of teamwork for any company in this industry to succeed. Any time Robotic Industries Association can be on your team, I’ll be there to help you make the most of your corporate membership benefits and networking opportunities. Feel free to contact me at 734/994-6088.

And if you think Industrial Electric can help you, contact Ron Forthun or Kevin Huse (209/527-2800) – and let them know where you heard about them.