Robots Wives Need Not Apply

January 21, 2009

By Brian Huse, Director, Marketing & PR, Robotic Industries Association


It looks like the folks at “Wife Swap,” an ABC reality television program, think robots would make a good hook for one of their episodes. It wasn’t long ago that Hollywood produced a movie called The Stepford Wives which also explored this technology. Ironically, in the movie it is an incident with an angry reality TV show contestant that is the catalyst for developments in which Nicole Kidman’s character becomes ensnared in an evil plot to transform women into stereotypically perfect housewives that are later revealed to be robots (although the wives become cyborgs in the 2004 remake).


“Wife Swap” is not looking for robot wives. Instead, they are seeking a couple where one (or perhaps both) has a passion for building robots.


If you haven’t seen “Wife Swap,” be advised it is not a show about modern marvels and innovative technology. According to their official explanation, “The premise of Wife Swap is simple: for seven days, two wives from two different families with very different values exchange husbands, children and lives (but not bedrooms) to discover what it’s like to live a different family’s life. It’s an interesting social experiment and a great way to see your family in a whole new light. It is shot as a documentary series, so NO scripts and no set. It’s just one camera that is documenting your life.”


If you have a passion for building robots and are interested in becoming involved in “Wife Swap,” you may have a chance to participate. Inquiries can go directly to an agent for the show (see below). Please leave your thoughts in the comment section of this blog and feel free to contact me at 734/994-6088.


For complete details, contact…

Matt McLaughlin




New Year; New Hope for Jobs in the Robotics Industry

January 12, 2009

By Brian Huse, Director, Marketing & PR, Robotic Industries Association


It’s a new year, but as happened for decades some people still worry that robots will take over the world or at least take away all the good jobs. More likely, they will provide career paths to our children.


At one time it was common to believe computers would displace people in the office. Secretaries were considered extremely vulnerable. There may have been a redistribution of work thanks to computers, but for the most part there is plenty of work for secretaries as long as they have good computer skills. On top of that, no company is complete without an IT department which is totally a product of the computer generation. I think most would agree there always is good demand for IT jobs compared to most other work and the pay is solid.


You could hire people to hand-sew linens, but if your competition uses a sewing machine then you won’t compete on price or volume. In the factory, you could turn parts on a lathe by hand or use a CNC machine and crank out way more for less. The person on the lathe can learn to operate a CNC and the person on the line can learn to operate a robot.


Meanwhile, the more companies that use robots the more our schools will graduate people who program and maintain them and our businesses can employ homegrown talent to become world leaders. It is hard to find a school that does not have a robotics program. If business is good then jobs will follow and our workforce will get trained for good jobs for years to come.


Robots are just machines; people are what matter. You can forsake the sewing machine or the CNC or the robot, but if you use them you will be more competitive. If robots help you improve business then there will be more orders and that leads to more jobs and maybe one day to a new class of worker (just like computers spawned a new generation of IT professionals).


If the discussion turns to service or personal care robots then the same logic applies, however, that sector is far less mature and introduces lots of other issues (and emotions). Industrial robots have been reliable workhorses for decades, known for going up to 50,000 hours mean-time-between-failure. Industrial robots are typically more affordable and more capable than hard automation.


North American manufacturing has barely begun to put robots to work except in a few industries. Amazingly, just when we need good, affordable and proven technology to give our companies a competitive advantage during a down economy we have a new generation of robots to consider. Some have just come to market that take advantage of new safety guidelines which minimize the cost of protecting workers without compromising safety.


In this bumpy economy it is imperative to use the best technology and to be as innovative as possible with it. Robots are no longer the quaint or odd piece of equipment for today’s manufacturers. They are good tools that can restore a company to new heights with better quality and higher productivity. Better yet, there are plenty of trained and experienced workers waiting to help a company be successful with its first robot.


Robotic Industries Association holds many events to help people in the industry understand and succeed with robots. Visit the events section of Robotics Online to see what is available now.


Are you afraid of robots? Do you like them? Let us know and tell us why – click the “comment” link below and share. Thanks!

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January 5, 2009

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How to Shore Up Business in 2009

January 2, 2009

By Brian Huse, Director, Marketing & PR, Robotic Industries Association

A select group of people will soon see a market assessment that examines the machine vision sector through the prism of recent economic indicators. It will be presented by Paul Kellett, Director, Market Analysis for the Automated Imaging Association. He foresees a recovery that lags the general economy, but eventually returns to a prosperous growth trend. His entire presentation will be during the AIA Business Conference, February 4-6, 2009, in San Diego, California.

Paul is an interesting person to talk to. He has the training of an economist and seasoning from the legal field. He has researched the automation sector for several years and is well informed about market dynamics from his work the three associations affiliated with Automation Technologies Council (RIA, AIA and MCA).

One of the important points made by Paul is that there will be a recovery. He reminds us there have been nine major economic crises since World War II. I would add there have been nine recoveries.

Many will tell you the economy gets stronger and bigger over time. Paul provides far more detail and support for his own predictions but he does have a positive outlook. However, he is practical and has a conservative outlook for 2009.

Are companies in the robotics industry recession proof? Some might be tempted to think so after weathering the storm pretty well in 2008. However, it will be nearly impossible to escape the impact of a global recession. What you do during the next few months is crucial to survival, and I was inspired by Paul to review how important the Association can be to its members during this time.

Now is the time to amplify your corporate image through public relations, marketing, training and networking. This is a great way to shore up business, and Paul, our in-house economist, feels this way very strongly.

My own training is in public relations and marketing, and though it goes back many years, there is a fundamental rule about surviving down economies. When times are bad, you must do more than ever to tell your story and position your company for renewed demand. Those who stay strong in the public conscience will flourish and those who don’t will see their business go elsewhere.

Trade associations were developed especially to give a voice to companies that need help telling their story. Membership can be publicized and used to establish credentials. A good trade association gives its members a number of outlets to help them get their story told.

Robotic Industries Association has a new Robotics Industry Directory for 2009 and that is a very tangible way to help members connect with customers. It has weight, you can turn the pages and it is “on” the moment you open it. Many of the ads are free. Companies publish their logos in it as a way to improve brand recognition and share of mind.

Hundreds of Directories are requested each month by people who visit Robotics Online. According to Google Analytics, more than 20,000 unique visitors come to RIA’s website each month. Page views are a mark of interest for a website, and more than 100,000 page views a month shows Robotics Online has a vibrant following. Many interact with RIA members through a public forum called “Ask the Experts.”

As trade associations go, RIA is unique. It is the only one in North America dedicated exclusively to robotics. It is one of a very few trade groups with membership levels for users as well as suppliers. It is the voice of suppliers, integrators, researchers, educators, consultants and users. RIA is the only source of statistics specific to robot orders and shipments in North America. On the factory floor, robot safety is achieved through compliance with the RIA/ANSI R15.06 National Robot Safety Standard that is on the threshold of a completely new release.

Companies that want to make a name for themselves in the robotics industry start with RIA. They have a place in print and online to ensure customers understand how dedicated they are to the technology. Many times these companies provide volunteers on committees and on the RIA Board to ensure the Association continues to reflect industry needs and concerns. Their companies are seen at regional and national events, from robot safety seminars to the International Robots, Vision & Motion Control Show and Conference.

Get to know these special companies. RIA even publishes a Who’s Who list of Platinum Suppliers and Integrators which for 2009 will first be seen in Assembly magazine this January. Call RIA headquarters to learn more (734/994-6088), or go to Robotics Online and see which companies are truly influential in the robotics sector. Always select an RIA member – it’s just good business.