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Custom Injection Molder Simplifies Complexity with Collaborative Robots  

 
 


BOSTON—A focus on short-run injection molding and related engineering and manufacturing services requires a high level of flexibility and agility. For Donnelly Custom Manufacturing, flexible automation—in the form of a couple of two-armed Baxter robots from Rethink Robotics—is the answer.

Donnelly Custom Manufacturing, a short-run injection molder in Alexandria, Minnesota, is using the Baxter robots on the manufacturing floor to perform time-consuming and repetitive tasks that must be performed without error. Employees are free to focus on more value-producing tasks and activities, while the robots perform tasks such as removing parts from a conveyor belt and stacking each part on customized stacking devices, as well as counting and packing finished products for shipment to customers.

As short-run production requires the ability to switch between tasks and handle different objects, it was crucial for Donnelly to find a cost-effective, automated means of shifting to a new task in a matter of minutes as the production line changes.

“In short-run molding, implementing automation to keep up with demand is expensive and laborious, as our production lines and product mix shifts quickly every day,” said Ron Kirscht, president at Donnelly, in a release. “Baxter is able to switch tasks easily and adapt to this variable factory environment, allowing us to remain competitive on global pricing while delivering custom products on time to our customers. This also frees our employees to think more creatively and gives them the chance to work on more complex tasks and problem solving.”

“Integrating traditional automation into a lower-volume, high-mix operation like Donnelly’s is incredibly difficult,” said Jim Lawton, chief product and marketing officer at Rethink Robotics, in the release. “By using our smart, collaborative robots, manufacturers like Donnelly are able to keep up with demand by addressing the complexity with a low-cost solution that can deal with variability and shift between tasks quickly.”

For more on Donnelly Custom Manufacturing’s use of collaborative robots, see Collaborative Robots Helping US Manufacturers to Compete Globally.




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