Automation Industry Association Criticizes 60 Minutes Segment ‘March of the Machines’

January 15, 2013

Following the 60 Minutes report “March of the Machines” on January 13, the Association for Advancing Automation (umbrella trade association for the RIA, AIA, and MCA) issued the following response–

The Association for Advancing Automation (A3), the global advocate for the automation industry, is disappointed in how 60 Minutes portrayed the industry in Sunday night’s “March of the Machines” segment.

“While the 60 Minutes depiction of how technological advances in automation and robotics are revolutionizing the workplace was spot on, their focus on how implementation of these automation technologies eliminates jobs could not be more wrong,” said Jeff Burnstein, President of A3, a trade group representing some 650 companies from 32 countries involved in robotics, vision, and motion control technologies. “We provided 60 Minutes producers several examples of innovative American companies who have used automation to become stronger global competitors, saving and creating more jobs while producing higher quality and lower cost products, rather than closing up shop or sending jobs overseas. They unfortunately chose not to include these companies in their segment. With respect to MIT Professors Brynjolfsson and McAfee who gave their viewpoint in the piece, they are missing the bigger picture.”

To see the real story in action, A3 is urging people to attend Automate 2013, the industry’s premier trade show which is held in Chicago, Illinois next week. (January 21-24, 2013; McCormick Place; With over 8,000 attendees from around the world, Automate showcases the full spectrum of automation technologies and solutions that are being utilized in many different industries. For free admission to the show, register Several Automate speakers will address how robots are saving and creating jobs.

“To paint advances in technology as just taking jobs is very one-sided,” stated Dr. Henrik Christensen, KUKA Chair of Robotics & Director of Robotics, Georgia Institute of Technology. “Studies have shown that 1.3 better, higher paying jobs are created in associated areas for every one job that may be insourced. In fact, the larger issue is companies are having trouble finding qualified employees to fill these high tech job openings. We instead should focus on how best to educate our workforce in the United States so that we can remain the leader in automation technologies.” Dr. Christensen will be the keynote speaker at Automate 2013 on Monday, January 21, 2013 at 8:45 am. He will be speaking on how robotics impact economic growth. The keynote is free for registrants.

Another highlight at Automate is a conference session led by company executives who will share their success with using automation technologies. (January 22, 2013; 10:00 am – 12:00 pm) The session will feature Drew Greenblatt, President & Owner of Marlin Steel and Matt Tyler, President & CEO of Vickers Engineering, who will share how they successfully implemented automation technologies instead of going out of business or sending manufacturing overseas. Today they are thriving businesses and have increased hiring with better, higher paying jobs. Later, both Greenblatt and Tyler will participate in the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) CEO Round Table Discussion on ‘How Robots Create Jobs.’ (January 22, 2013; 12:00 noon – 1:30 pm) The results of a recent study conducted by the IFR on the impact of industrial robots on employment will also be discussed.

“Automation creates jobs in the United States,” said Greenblatt. “Marlin Steel is hiring people because our robots make us more productive, so we are price competitive with China. Our quality is consistent and superior, and we ship much faster. Our mechanical engineers can design material handling baskets more creatively since we can make more precise parts. Our employees have gone 1,492 days without a safety incident because robots can do the more difficult jobs while our employees can focus on growing the business. American manufacturing’s embrace of robotics will ensure a new manufacturing renaissance in this country.”

“Roughly 90% of our automated cells are producing parts that were previously made off shore while the other 10% were also globally competitive, strictly due to automation,” said Tyler. “Automation has not only allowed us to bring more jobs back to the United States due to our ‘new’ cost structure, but our profit margin has increased. This ultimately allows us to fund additional growth, which in turn creates more stateside jobs.”

For information on how to obtain press credentials for Automate, please contact Bob Doyle at (734) 994-6088 or

A3 is the umbrella group for Robotic Industries Association (RIA), AIA – Advancing Vision + Imaging, and Motion Control Association (MCA). RIA, AIA, and MCA combined represent some 650 automation manufacturers, component suppliers, system integrators, end users, research groups and consulting firms from throughout the world that drive automation forward. For information on RIA, visit Robotics Online at For information on AIA, visit Vision Online at For information on MCA, visit Motion Control Online

Read the press release on Robotics Online here.


Industry Pros See Positive Outlook for Robotics in 2013

January 8, 2013

December always wraps up with a look at the past year and January always starts with a look towards the future. What will 2013 bring for the robotics industry? Bennett Brumon checks in with several top industry professionals to see what trends and market shifts they’re predicting.

Robotics Industry Expected to Thrive in 2013
by Bennett Brumon , Contributing Editor

Most players in the robotics industry are sanguine on the prospects of nearly all applications in 2013. “I think 2013 will be awesome. General industry is historically two years behind the rebound of the automotive industry, following an economic downturn. The automotive industry did not buy anything for a few years then came on strong,” says Edward Minch, Automotive Group Director of Sales and Engineering at Kawasaki Robotics (USA) Inc. (Wixom, Michigan). “General industry is taking care of capital investment it ignored during the recession.”

Likewise, Mick Estes, General Manager at FANUC Robotics America Corp. (Rochester Hills, Michigan) says, “I expect to see continued growth in the automotive industry with increasing investment of robotics in the power train sector. Tier Two suppliers continue to invest in robotics to remain competitive on the world market.”

Estes also anticipates strong growth in general industry. “Packaging and palletizing applications as well as assembly for the general industrial market will increase.”

John Bubnikovich, Executive Director of Marketing and Business Development at ABB Inc. (Auburn Hills, Michigan) speaks of the continuing role of the automotive sector within the robotics industry. “The automotive sector still accounts for 65 percent of the North American robotics market. Automotive’s revitalization has been very influential in the great bounce-back the robotics industry has seen recently.”

Bubnikovich goes on to say, “Robotic laser cutting is emerging as an optimal means to cut and trim hot-stamped steel, a light weight, high strength material increasingly used in the automotive industry to reduce the overall cost and weight of cars while improving passenger safety and fuel economy.”

Bin picking is one application several leaders in the robotics industry have high hopes for in 2013. “I see rapid expansion of three-dimensional bin picking, the ability to retrieve randomly arranged products from a bin,” says John Burg, President of Ellison Technologies Automation (Council Bluffs, Iowa).

Terry Zarnowski, Director of Sales and Marketing with Schneider Packaging Equipment Co. Inc. (Brewerton, New York) has a similar outlook for the prospects of bin picking in 2013. “Bin picking is now a viable reality.”

Minch sees advancements in vision technology combined with improved force sensing, as one of numerous bright spots for the robotics industry. “These advancements will help the robotics industry penetrate into new markets, such as consumer electronic equipment and automotive component assembly and random bin picking. Robots can ‘see’ and have a sense of touch. Force sensors use feedback from servomotors to tell how hard the robot is pushing on a part during assembly processes such as driving a screw.”

Read more at Robotics Online. What trends do you see for the robotics industry in 2013?

To see more of the latest robotics technology, come to Automate 2013, Jan. 21-24 in Chicago. See live demos, talk with industry pros, and find your automation solution! We’ve designed Automate 2013 with small and medium sized businesses in mind so start the new year off right — register for your free show pass today!

Automation Infographic Explains Reshoring

October 4, 2012

RIA member KUKA Robotics created an infographic to explain how automation and robotics will help bring jobs back to America. Pretty neat!

[Click on infographic twice to see a bigger version.]

The Return of the New American Factory

September 24, 2012

There has been a lot of buzz recently about reshoring and the return of manufacturing. But what does that really mean? After so many years of a disjointed supply chain, what will it look like to have American companies back on American soil? How will recent developments in automation shape the return of the factory?

Why manufacturing matters for America

By Willy Shih and Gary Pisano

We believe that the most important reason to bring manufacturing back and grow it in this country is that the ability to manufacture underpins our ability to innovate in many fields. When manufacturing process technology is not yet mature, or when products are tightly integrated systems that are not easily modularized, a great deal of the work in “industrializing” a product – that is getting it ready and putting it into volume production – is high value-added knowledge work that supports future innovation in the field.

A great example is Intel Corporation’s latest generation of “Ivy Bridge” family of microprocessors. Intel has invested tens of billions of dollars in its factories in Oregon, Arizona, and New Mexico so that they are able to produce the most advanced semiconductors. In order to produce its Ivy Bridge chips in the latest generation technology, it had to maintain a tight loop between the engineering team designing the chips and the engineers designing the manufacturing process. Understanding how to make a product in volume is very different from being able to build a one-of-a-kind prototype, and the process that engineers and workers go through is an important part of innovation. Many in the industry say that Intel has a two year lead on its competition as a result.

Read the full article at CNN. What do you see the future of American manufacturing looking like? What sort of expectations do you hold for reshoring efforts, both on the corporate-wide and factory floor levels?

Real Estate Managers Foresee Manufacturing Re-shoring

August 6, 2012

Previously we linked to an article from ASSEMBLY Magazine that held results of their annual State of the Profession survey. The report had many hopes of reshoring and growth in domestic manufacturing. Turns out that professionals in other industries have the same projections. IndustryWeek reports that a recent survey of corporate real estate managers found that over half of them expected strong reshoring efforts in the next few years.

Rebound in Domestic Manufacturing from Offshore Locations
by Adrienne Selko

In a survey conducted in conjunction with the Corporate Real Estate 2020 research, 51% of corporate real estate asset managers either agreed or strongly agreed that there would be a rebound in domestic manufacturing from offshore locations. This recovery will be driven both by companies bringing manufacturing plants and jobs back to the U.S. or choosing not to off-shore in the first place, according to the report.

“On-shoring in the U.S. will continue to gain steam due to changing global cost and supply chain dynamics,” said Dennis Donovan, principal with WDG Consulting. “The U.S. and its manufacturing base is more competitive than at anytime in a generation.”

The trend is already occurring as U.S. manufacturing jobs have rebounded from a 10-year low of 11,458,000 in January 2010 to a projected 11,962,000 ending June 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The 4.4% increase marks a gain of more than a half million new jobs.

Read the full article here at IndustryWeek. Have you seen or experienced companies pulling back to domestic manufacturing? What sort of expectations do you hold for reshoring in the next decade?

Bring the Jobs Home — and Train People to Fill Them

July 16, 2012

More good news for the manufacturing industry? ASSEMBLY Magazine recently concluded the studies for its17th annual State of the Profession survey, capturing current trends in the industry and making some projections about the future. At the top of the list of topics? Reshoring efforts — and the lack of skilled workers to fill jobs.

Reshoring Buoys Optimism
by Austin Weber

The 17th annual ASSEMBLY State of the Profession survey captured some of the recent uptick in reshoring activity. For instance, 19 percent of respondents claim that their company has brought jobs back to the states from overseas. And, 16 percent expect their companies to reshore assembly operations during the next 12 months.

A recent study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group Inc. (BCG) confirms this trend. According to BCG, more than a third of U.S.-based manufacturing executives at companies with sales greater than $1 billion are planning to bring back production to the United States from China or are considering it.

The top factors cited as driving future decisions on production locations are labor costs (57 percent), product quality (41 percent), ease of doing business (29 percent) and proximity to customers (28 percent). In addition, 92 percent of respondents believe that labor costs in China “will continue to escalate,” and 70 percent claim that “sourcing in China is more costly than it looks on paper.”

Check out the full article at ASSEMBLY’s website. The article goes on to discuss working conditions, job satisfaction, pay distribution, and green initiatives. What trends from ASSEMBLY’s survey do you see reflected in your own company and your sphere of business?