American manufacturing is falling behind, largely due to an inability to compete with other countries around the globe on the axis of cheap labor – but there’s a solution in sight.
By leveraging robots and automation, Americans can maintain their standard of living, elevate human labor to positions of innovation, and close the widening global manufacturing gap with solutions that tackle the dull, dirty, and dangerous jobs in our society.
Dan Allford, President of RIA member, ARC Specialties, is here to tell you how.
In ARC Specialties’ latest educational course, titled “Robotics in Business” and presented and produced by MarketScale, Allford guides learners through the origins of automation, the future of robots, and the upcoming American Manufacturing Renaissance he sees just over the horizon.
Learning Goals of ‘Robotics in Business’
As you move through the course, Allford will share the expertise he’s gained over more than four decades navigating the evolving landscape of manufacturing and automation, outlining:
– The origins of robots and how they came to be
– The three laws that began in science fiction, yet still govern robotics today
– The different types of robots and their unique purposes and advantages
– The step-by-step journey ARC undertakes to craft a robot for a given vision and goal
– How to select the right automation solutions to keep your organization competitive
– How the U.S. can close the efficiency gap with the rest of the world and kick off a bright manufacturing future
Get Started with ‘Robotics in Business’ Today
RIA is committed to driving innovation, growth, and safety in our industry and to providing you with the best resources available to continue to explore everything it has to offer.
To begin your journey through ‘Robotics in Business,’ sign up to enroll in the course by visiting https://arc-specialties.marketscale.com/learners/sign_in.
Elevating Manufacturing Begins with Efficiency
There’s a common misconception in the manufacturing industry that automation and robots are set to sweep in and take jobs from hard-working humans.
That simply isn’t the case. Robots aren’t here to take jobs from Americans. In fact, they are here to make companies more efficient, which keeps jobs here in America. They’re here to supplement human innovation and ingenuity.
Robots take on dull, dirty, and dangerous jobs, freeing up human labor to move upmarket and take on higher-level tasks humans excel at, such as programming.
The True Crisis in American Manufacturing
The truth is that American efficiency in manufacturing is lagging behind because of a natural inability to compete with countries with much lower labor costs.
It’s also due to a lack of available skilled labor, both in general and in manufacturing. In fact, according to a 2018 report from Deloitte, a skills gap between jobs opening from retirement and new jobs created naturally could result in 2.4 million unfilled positions by 2028.
The United States cannot compete on cheap labor, and trying to will only result in continued failure and regression. However, there is a way to successfully compete in the global manufacturing space.
In order to maintain the American standard of living and re-emerge as one of the world’s manufacturing powerhouses, the U.S. needs to engage in more widespread adoption of robots and automation.
To re-emerge as one of the world’s manufacturing powerhouses, the U.S. needs to increase the efficiency of our manufacturing.
If our workers are being paid 10 times more than workers overseas, that time needs to be that much more valuable in terms of output. We can do this via robots and automation.
How Automation Will Drive American Manufacturing Back to the Forefront
The bottom line is this – we compete in a global market. If a U.S. manufacturer cannot provide manufacturing value to match international competitors, buyers will go elsewhere.
The use of robots and automation help protect jobs in the U.S. by making manufacturers more competitive on this global scale.
Across virtually every industry, robots have driven collaboration, automation, and precision that leads to better end results.
Consider the task of arc welding. One study found that the cost to manually weld a small part is about 84 cents, but that the same part costs Chinese manufacturers around half that. Via an initial investment in automation, costs can be driven toward a more level playing field – while also freeing human labor up to tackle higher-purpose jobs.
Human labor can also leverage collaborative robots to work safely alongside these automation tools, preserving even more manufacturing jobs.
And, because efficiency rises as costs lower and workers are set up to elevate their careers and fill more skilled roles, companies are empowered to make up for that aforementioned skill gap and deliver greater customer satisfaction.
A Renaissance in American Manufacturing on the Horizon
Robots and automation are primed to help the U.S. compete at a higher level with countries that leverage cheaper labor to engineer efficiency, and that’s opening doors toward a manufacturing future that will see America begin to win again.
Robots aren’t taking American jobs. They’re creating and elevating them and, if leveraged properly, they will bring about a Renaissance in U.S. manufacturing.
As the world reopens, the accelerated pace of automation will likely not only pick back up in the United States – it could begin to move even faster.
Robots, which have long filled a niche in America in taking on more complex tasks, may actually begin to be leveraged more often for the dull, dirty, and dangerous. Robots have always been capable of performing simple, previously manual tasks more consistently and effectively than humans, but these jobs will need to return to the forefront for America to catch back up in the world of manufacturing and allow humans to focus on innovating.
Dan Allford, President of ARC Specialties, said the pandemic and the ensuing shutdown has allowed companies across the U.S. to see that certain strategic items really should be made at home.
That includes medical supplies, green energy solutions, such as solar power and wind energy equipment, food, automobiles, and more.
“To effectively and efficiently manufacture this stuff, you need robots,” Allford said. “Robots are just another labor-saving device. In America, if we want to maintain the standard of living that we’ve grown to enjoy, we must be more efficient than the lower-wage economies of the world.
“And one way to do that is with machines and robots.”
My first job was in the Hughes welding research lab and I loved it. But my lab experience started as a youngster going to my mom’s radiation mutation genetics lab at UT Austin. My job was pipetting mutated drosophila (moving fruit flies from one test tube to another by sucking them up in a straw). Laboratories are in my blood.
We built our lab at ARC Specialties years ago so we could determine project feasibility and optimize process parameters BEFORE we build a machine.
In our lab, we have answered questions such as can you weld MoRe? Pure Tungsten? Make bullet-resistant coatings on Ti? Clad pipe 40′ deep? Use ESW for additive? Create wear-resistant coatings for aluminum? Maintain bond line flatness +/- .005′”? Too much fun!
This week’s challenge was to make .02″ thick metal to metal wear-resistant coatings for mud motor transmissions with a metallurgical bond, minimal cracking, and useable in the as-welded condition without a laser. With a little help from our friend Jean-Marc Tetevuide we succeeded.
If you have a manufacturing problem you would like for the ARC team to investigate contact me. If it is interesting we won’t even charge you!
At ARC Specialties we thrive on problems, send us yours!
– Dan Allford
Plasma welding is a wonderful process for welding automation. Plasma torches protect the tungsten, collimate or focus the arc plus allow to use powdered filler materials rather than just wires. These features make plasma the welding process of choice for overlay and joining in many applications. But it is not widely understood and not taught in depth in schools. I was fortunate to have several excellent mentors Chip Arata, Rod Webber, and Dave Hebble who taught me the nuances of the process.
When we build and install plasma welding systems we are asked to teach the process to operators and engineers. I developed this 1-hour class and have presented it to my customers in the US and around the world. We decided to video Plasma University and post it. Watch the class, successfully complete the quiz, and we will send a certificate!
Our plan is to add other processes and other classes, tell us what you are interested in seeing in the future.
I’m a long time advocate of narrow gap welding. The advantages are tremendous, but the challenges are too. A 5″ thick standard V Butt weld with a 75 degree included angle has five times the weld volume of a 1″ wide 5″ Square Butt. This means a narrow gap joint would have five times less weld wire, five times less arc time, much less distortion. And fewer defects because every inch of weld that you don’t make is an inch you don’t have to inspect and possibly repair.
Why isn’t narrow gap the standard technique for welding heavy sections? Because the technical challenges of welding vertical walls in confined spaces are huge. For good sidewall fusion, the arc must impinge on the walls. Otherwise, you risk lack of fusion defects at the bond line. Our new Narrow Gap Hot Wire Torch features a servo tungsten electrode oscillator to point directly at the sidewall. That is only half the battle. The wire must follow the tungsten. We did just that using a second independent servo this allows us full control of arc and the filler wire position. Finally, we use our HOT ONE AC constant voltage hotwire system to double the deposition rate, which cuts weld time in half.
To see a video including Xiris Automation Inc. arc monitoring click: https://lnkd.in/eBTHYgh
One of my hobbies is teaching. I have been blessed with many great teachers over my life and feel obligated to share what I have learned. I teach kayaking, self-defense, welding, race track driving, and robotics, which is today’s topic.
I was fortunate that the field of industrial robotics started and grew just around the time I graduated in ’79. It has been a wild ride but I would not have missed it for anything.
Terry O’Connell is our partner at MarketScale our B2B marketing company which helps us with all forms of media. Terry offered to make an online training course on Robots in Business. His video team spent two days at ARC shooting the class as well as the robotic systems we had on the floor.
We focus is on how, where, and why robots are used in business. Robots are simply another labor-saving device that is essential for businesses to remain competitive particularly now that we are all part of the global economy.
I talk about history, and applications while Kevin Sevcik gets into the details of the technology which makes it work.
See: https://lnkd.in/eV7j9zy and tell me what you think. We are working on additional segments that delve into the technical details.
Ron Whitman, Welding Engineer LeTourneau University 1956 passed away last year and we miss him. He was the most inspiring teacher I have ever known. My success is due in no small part to the knowledge and passion he instilled in me. To honor Ron, we created an endowed scholarship in his name. The American Welding Society matched and administrates the Ron Whitman scholarship which is awarded each year to a LeTourneau University student enrolled in the joining program. Ron wrote the criteria for applicants which stresses hands-on welding skills. You can’t engineer what you can’t do yourself. This year’s recipient is Kendra Murphy a rising Junior. After reading her application, I feel sure that Kendra is precisely the type of student that Ron would have wanted the scholarship to go to. She should be graduating in 2021 and I expect great things from her.
In my 40 years as a roboticist, I have seen robots become simpler, cheaper, and more capable. They have evolved to the point of nearly being a commodity. But a robot needs tooling, software, fixturing, and ancillary process equipment to become a good robotic system. The process is called system integration, and a whole industry exists to handle it. Poor integration creates most robot system problems. I contend that the biggest use of robots in the world is dust collection. The robot fails to perform, and the system is moved to the back of the shop to collect dust. After end users have one of these experiences, I have to explain that it was the integrator, not the robot, which failed. I recommend that before you buy any robotic system, you do two things. First, make sure your integrator is certified by Robotic Industries Association see: https://lnkd.in/eq8qeq4. Second, check references and ask to see similar systems in operation in the real world.
We are currently retrofitting three robots we removed from failed systems purchased elsewhere. We appreciate the work, but it is better and cheaper to do it right the first time.
Dr. Stefan Kreuzer has seen his fellow surgeons shrug at advancements involving robots in surgery.
If they can drive home without a GPS, why involve robots in a process that already leads to a good outcome?
For Kreuzer, though, getting an assist from automation is like utilizing GPS software to check traffic patterns or suggest the best route home, even if a driver already knows one way to get the job done.
“A good surgeon can have good outcome most of the time, but that’s just not good enough. We need to have a not-so-good surgeon have excellent outcome all the time, and I think that’s where robotics can play a huge role,” Kreuzer said. “Because, currently, there’s a frightening statistic – 70% of all knee replacements are done by surgeons who do 10 or fewer a year. If we can make that surgeon a better surgeon for those 10 operations, and [add] robotics, if we train them properly, just about anybody can incorporate that into their workflow. I think we’ve done a great deal of good for society.”
Seeking the greater good is what excites ARC Specialties President Dan Allford about linking up with Dr. Kreuzer. A patient of Kreuzer’s put the pair in contact after learning of Dr. Kreuzer’s interest in robotics. The Houston residents have been able to work together to consider how to improve current methods of robotic surgery, especially in joint replacement.
That’s resulted in Allford and ARC utilizing collaborative robots and an articulated arm rather than the SCARA arms currently in use.
“This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. In my opinion, there’s no higher calling than medicine, and, as a roboticist, I don’t get to do a lot of medicine,” Allford said. “So, I was eager to learn something more about the industry.”
With influence from Dr. Kruezer, Allford hopes he can combine the best of human minds and robotic work to produce something that truly contributes to society.