Alexandria Industries’ path to incorporate robotics started nearly 15 years ago. We purchased Rosie, our first pick-and-place robot in 2001. We have since added eight more robots with smaller footprints to load and unload parts for CNC machining. This year, we have two robots on order, and we are scheduled to order two more – bringing our total count to 13.
Automation helps us work efficiently through the tough labor market. With nearly 70 CNC machining cells, pick-and-place robotics allows us to keep working. We are able to utilize one worker to operate three machining lines simultaneously, freeing up two workers to take on other important roles. Having the robots do repetitive tasks, makes for happier workers also.
While many manufacturing companies are struggling to find people interested in doing simple pick-and-place repetitive tasks, our employees spend their time learning about automation technology and developing new programs to solve problems. This gives them more pride in the job they are doing.
Because of the advancements in software programming, robots are becoming more intuitive and easier to learn. The new generation of smarter robots is relatively simple, and anyone who can use a smart phone can easily learn how to operate them. Working with the robotics gives our employees additional satisfaction as they can be challenged with other job functions, and learn new computer programming skills.
We believe that the expanding use of robots may convince young people who are graduating from high school to consider working in manufacturing, and specifically at Alexandria Industries. Advanced robotics technology is almost an extension of a person and can bring multiple skillsets and abilities to today’s youth who might not otherwise be interested in manufacturing as a career choice.Although the robots can run virtually non-stop, we have not replaced any workers. No one has lost their job. In fact, the opposite is true. In spite of a shortage of finding skilled workers, we have been able to expand our capabilities and production volume due to the automation.
Our robotics allows Alexandria Industries to fill larger machining orders faster, keeping us cost competitive compared to other high-touch machining shops. Our goal in five years is to eliminate any operators loading machines and instead have these individuals trained on programming and machine set-up. This will help us continue to increase our machining capabilities and production volumes, while bringing exciting challenges to our employees to help them grow and learn.
At Alexandria Industries, we are working smarter to be your single-source supplier. New generation robotics technology allows us to enhance our capabilities, increase our attention to detail and continue to provide the high quality products you expect from us.