How Robots Can Help Your Manufacturing Business

Growing popularity has made robotic solutions an affordable option for small businesses

Manufacturing often includes repetitive, simple jobs that can be quickly and efficiently performed by machines. While it may seem like something out of “The Jetsons,” there are robotic machines, a.k.a robots, that can help your small business by executing recurring tasks, such as applying liquid coatings or moving objects around factories. These machines can also protect against injury by handling dangerous assignments, like cutting or welding metals.

Many small manufacturers assume that robots are out of their price range. But robots have become increasingly affordable as they’ve grown more prevalent. Several companies, such as RobotWorx, even specialize in economical used or refurbished units that can make robots affordable for your business. While robots can reduce labor costs and increase production speed, there are also some pitfalls:

  • Robots need regular maintenance. Most robot manufacturers offer maintenance training and service plans for an added fee.
  • Software to run your robots is usually included, but some companies make you buy software from outside sources.
  • Look for a robotics company that offers a simulation to demonstrate how your robot would operate. This helps you and the robot manufacturer foresee potential issues, so that they can be addressed before the robot goes to production.
  • Account for the additional amount spent on electricity; robots can cause your bill to jump more than you realize.
Ask consultants and manufacturers for help finding the right robotics solution

Small-business owners can get referrals from engineering consultants and manufacturers who specialize in automated robotics. The Robotics Industries Association is a good source for the latest industry news, a buyer’s guide and robotics company listings.

Determine which robot works best for you

What do you want your robot to do? Robotic assembly equipment can be customized to meet your needs, but standard designs are also available. Whether or not your manufacturing process requires custom machinery depends on what function you need your robots to perform and the complexity of your manufacturing process.

Robot breeds include these:

Robotic dispensers

Dispensers can perform a multitude of routine tasks to free up your human employees for jobs that require more thought. They can reliably and efficiently apply adhesives or sealants, recognize bar codes and pull specific items from your stockroom, or unload parts.

Robotic assembly palletizers

These robots are essentially oversized dispensers, handling heavy and cumbersome pallets. Robotic assembly palletizers can unload products from conveyor belts and assembly lines and group them for shipping and processing. Palletizers can also be used to package products or unload incoming shipments. If you’re considering a palletizer, make sure yours could handle the weight required by your process, as maximum capacity varies by design.

Robotic assembly arms

For advanced projects, robotic assembly arms can conduct dangerous or difficult tasks. These machines can be programmed to remove products from molds, X-ray parts, or use a laser to cut through tough surfaces. While these may seem more advanced, welding robots are among the most commonly used by small businesses, and are easy to install and operate. Robotic assembly arms require periodic recalibration or reprogramming to maintain their precision, however, which increases the cost.

Custom designs

Custom robots can be engineered to meet your manufacturing needs if you need them to handle atypical or advanced functions. Customization is also necessary when a robot is expected to work in extreme conditions, such as a sterile or extremely cold environment. Made-to-order machines are more expensive, of course, but they are especially tailored to your specifications.

Brian Luskey is an associate editor at, the web’s largest business-to-business searchable directory and home to more than 35,000 business how-to guides.

Original Publication:

Company News