By Jeff Burnstein, President, Robotic Industries Association
The robotics industry is in the midst of a major upturn, with global sales up more than 50% last year. Similar trends exist in machine vision, motion control and related automation technologies. Companies throughout the world recognize that automation gives them a competitive edge by improving productivity, product quality and profits. Now is the time for companies in every industry who haven’t considered automation yet to do so. And, the best way to get the knowledge they need is to attend Automate 2011 in Chicago, March 21-24 at McCormick Place.
Traditional barriers to automate are falling fast. It’s no longer too costly or complex, no longer is automation just for large companies or those with vast internal engineering resources. A growing number of qualified, experienced system integrators exist with the knowledge of specific industries and applications as well as the automation know-how needed to develop successful solutions.
More success stories than ever exist of companies who have invested in automation and seen their business grow and prosper. One of the best stories is that of Marlin Steel Wire, who uses robots to succesfully compete with companies in China paying its workers 30 cents an hour. Drew Greenblatt, Marlin’s President, will speak at Automate 2011 to explain how, thanks to robotics, he has added jobs to handle the increased business and can pay his workers $30 per hour plus benefits.
Marlin’s not alone. Recently one of our Board members sent me this video about Itron, a smart meter manufacturer based in South Carolina: http://www.youtube.com/user/Vids4Grids. About six minutes in you’ll find the General Manager of Operations explaining how robotics and automation has helped Itron improve its business so much that it has doubled its workforce in the past 18 months. He says its counter-intuitve that you can automate and add jobs, but this is exactly what’s happened at Itron, and Marlin, and many other companies large and small.
Automate 2011 will showcase succesful solutions, the system integrators that provide them, the products needed to develop them, and the experts who are willing to share knowledge that visitors can apply immediately at their companies.
Economic conditions are strong, manufacturing activity is increasing, non-manufacturing applications of robotics, machine vision and other automation technologies are expanding into areas like warehousing & distribution, security, health care, and defense. Now is the time for companies in every industry who want to explore automation solutions to step forward to ask their questions, and Automate 2011 is the show with the answers!