A Hands-Free Future  
Machinery Automation  
Promises Greater  
Productivity – And  
Fewer Workers  
by Trey Barrineau  
recent report from the to slash payroll. It’s because there are vice chairman of Deloitte LLP. “Our  
McKinsey Global Institute esti- fewer people to put on the payroll in research estimates that the cumula-  
mates that automation could the first place.  
boost global business produc-  
tive skills gap—or the positions that  
likely won’t be filled due to a lack of  
skilled workers—will grow to 2 million  
skilled-labor between 2015 and 2025.”  
The labor issue was by far the big-  
A
tivity by 0.8 percent to 1.4 percent Where are the Workers?  
per year. Additionally, the report says  
In the U.S.,  
a
about half of all workforce activities shortage is big problem across  
worldwide could be automated using many industries. Deloitte and The gest reason cited for the growing drive  
current technology, saving companies Manufacturing Institute conducted toward automated production process-  
about $15 trillion in wages.  
a study in 2015 that predicted a mas- es by those who make and sell machin-  
Many industry leaders might drool sive gap between available manufac- ery for the door and window industry.  
over such dramatic cuts in labor costs, turing jobs and the workforce needed  
but the report also points out that auto- to fill them in the years ahead.  
“One theme that seems to cross  
all of the segments is the fact that  
mation works best in highly structured  
industries such as manufacturing.  
“The research shows that 84 per- customers are desperate to reduce  
cent of manufacturing executives labor while improving quality and  
In recent years, door and window agree there is a talent shortage in U.S. increasing flexibility,” said Todd  
makers have embraced automation manufacturing, and this gap will be Tolson, director of sales for Pro-Line  
in a huge way. In fact, companies that exacerbated by more than 2.7 million Automation Systems.  
sell machinery say requests for auto- professionals exiting the manufactur-  
mation are the biggest ones they hear. ing workforce through retirement over  
But it’s not because they’re looking the next ten years,” said Craig Giffi,  
Sarah Colberg, the vice president  
continued on page 22  
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Door & Window Market  
www.dwmmag.com  
Rise of the Robots  
“In just the first nine months of  
016, 23,985 robots were ordered  
2
from North American companies, all  
of which require machine guarding  
equipment to maximize productivity  
and safety.”  
Joe Nitiss, Rockford Systems  
Big Money  
By 2023, the global industrial  
robotics market is expected to  
reach $70.26 billion.  
Source: Forrester Research  
Save Wages, Boost Productivity  
Automation could boost  
global business productivity  
by 0.8 percent to 1.4 percent  
per year. About half of all  
workforce activities worldwide  
could be automated using  
current technology, saving  
companies about $15 trillion  
in wages.  
Source: McKinsey Global Institute  
Bodies Needed  
By 2025, about 2 million jobs in  
manufacturing will sit idle because of a  
lack of skilled workers.  
Source: Deloitte LLP  
www.dwmmag.com  
March 2017  
21  
Machinery  
Automation  
continued from page 20  
Deadliest Jobs  
of sales for Lothar’s Industrial Sales/  
Witte North America, believes the  
skilled-labor crisis will speed up the  
adoption of robotics, revolutionizing  
workplaces around the country.  
In 2015, Bloomberg ranked 51  
jobs according to their deadliness.  
The rankings were based on  
fatalities per 100,000 employees in  
that field. The 21st deadliest job was  
industrial machinery workers, with a  
fatality rate of 11.81 per 100,000.  
#
21  
“I believe the next big thing in  
machinery will be robotic equipment  
for cutting, welding and corner cleaning,  
as manufacturers are having a difficult  
time finding skilled workers,” she says.  
“With the introduction of the nication and software providers,”  
One manufacturer is already using RC-2000, GED became the first compa- says Sharmila Annaswamy, industri-  
robots for corner cleaning to great ny to use robots for cleaning as a part al automation and process control  
fanfare.  
of the window manufacturing process,” research analyst at Forrester. “By 2023,  
GED Integrated Solutions Inc. said Gustavo Sepulveda, the robotics the global industrial robotics market  
recently won ABB Robotics’ “Most general manager at ABB–United States. is expected to reach $70.26 billion.”  
Innovative Solution” Award for its “They have been able to apply some  
Roboclean (RC-2000) robotic twin- innovative approaches to automate a It’s Time to Spend  
head vinyl corner cleaning system.  
process that had previously been con-  
sidered unsuitable for automation.”  
Most machinery makers who spoke  
to DWMsaid the housing rebound is  
And while GED is seeing success leading to increased demand for their  
with its robotic corner cleaner, custom- products.  
Domo Arigato,  
Mr. Roboto …  
ers are demanding more. Much more.  
“Our American customers seem  
“They’re always asking ’what other to be purchasing more fabrication  
It’s easy—and politically popu-  
lar—to blame China or Mexico for  
the loss of American manufacturing  
jobs, but a recent report from Ball  
State University points the finger  
at robots, which are driving massive  
gains in productivity even as they  
put people out of work.  
From 2000-2010, the U.S. saw  
the largest decline in manufacturing  
employment in history, the report  
finds, with about 88 percent of the  
jobs lost to robots and other factors  
such as automation. (Trade accounted  
for about 13 percent of job losses.)  
But from 2006 to 2013, manufac-  
turing output grew by 17.6 percent,  
according to the report. The reason?  
Again, robots.  
machines or processes can utilize a equipment and tooling as they look  
robot, or robotic technology to auto- forward with an optimistic outlook  
mate?’” says Joe Shaheen, director of on the future market,” says Colberg,  
sales and marketing at GED Integrated whose company is based in Canada.  
Solutions. “They’llask‘what’snext?What  
else can be automated? How can we get idential door and window demand in  
more throughput with less labor?’” the U.S. is projected to rise 6 percent  
Because of the housing surge, res-  
As more robotic and automated per year through 2020 to $25.6 bil-  
systems become available, the ability lion, according to research from the  
to integrate with software in the plant Freedonia Group, a Cleveland-based  
only grows in importance.  
industry research firm.  
“One new feature we are starting  
“Yes, since 2014 we have seen high-  
to offer is remote monitoring of over- er demand,” says Donohue.  
all equipment efficiency, or OEE,” says  
Michael Biffl, national sales man-  
Morgan Donohue, vice president at ager for Sturtz, says he’s seeing a lot of  
Erdman Automation. “We can gather requests for replacement machinery.  
data and inform customers of things  
“A combination of the market  
such as units produced, machine down- growth and the amount of old equip-  
time, etc. Another highly sought-after ment in the market is leading to high  
feature is VPN remote access for pro- demand for new equipment in the  
The growth in production per  
worker played a significant role  
in the last decade’s change  
in manufacturing employ-  
ment,” the report found.  
gramming changes offsite.”  
PVC fenestration industry,” he says.  
Manufacturing worldwide is being “Most manufacturers are seeing sig-  
disrupted by cloud-based comput- nificant increases in their sales, which  
ing, the “Internet of Things” and the by itself is creating demand. On top  
growing use of data analytics—and of that, many companies are using  
it’s poised to become a huge business. equipment that is 10-15 years old and  
The convergence of information they want to upgrade to newer, more  
technology and operations technolo- efficient technology.”  
gy will drive collaborations between  
robot manufacturers and commu-  
continued on page 24  
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Machinery  
Automation  
continued from page 22  
Not everyone directly links the cally reduce injuries associated with  
increase in business to the rebound machinery, but robotics presents new  
in housing, however. It might also be and unique safety challenges for weld-  
driven by capital that’s sat on the side- ing, assembly, CNC and metal cut-  
lines as the economy recovers, says ting equipment. That’s why Rockford  
When Should  
You Automate?  
If you’re a small- to medium-sized  
window fabricator that hasn’t automated Pro-Line’s Tolson.  
Systems, a provider of machine safe-  
some of your production processes yet,  
you might be itching to pull the trigger.  
However, it’s a decision you shouldn’t  
rush into, according to a recent e-book  
published by machinery maker TigerStop.  
The company lays out a four-step  
evaluation process for determining if  
you’re ready to automate:  
“We’ve seen a steady increase in our guarding products and services, recent-  
business for the last two and half to ly became a supplier member of the  
three years, so I’d be hard-pressed to Robotic Industries Association (RIA).  
tie it directly to the modest improve-  
“Robotics is a growing multi-bil-  
ment in new housing starts,” he says. lion-dollar market,” said Joe Nitiss,  
“I believe the bulk of the increase is CEO of Rockford Systems. “In just  
coming from pent-up demand com- the first nine months of 2016, 23,985  
bined with some cautious optimism robots were ordered from North  
in the overall economy.”  
American companies, all of which  
1
. Look  
While rising demand is good for require machine guarding equipment  
business, it also means some window to maximize productivity and safety.”  
The best pro-  
cesses to automate  
are those that are repetitive, simple,  
time-consuming and prone to errors.  
makers might be cutting corners by  
using cheaper materials. That pres- automation typically occur during  
ents challenges to machinery manu- non-routine operating conditions  
Injuries associated with robotic  
(
Think measuring and cutting.)  
facturers, says Colberg. when an employee is within the  
“Over the last several years we have robot’s working area performing pro-  
seen profile walls become thinner and gramming, maintenance, testing, set-  
thinner to the point that it has become up or adjustment. Rockford Systems  
challenging to try and adapt our fabri- manufactures components that pro-  
cation equipment to accommodate tect workers during both routine and  
these thin-walled profiles properly,” non-routine robotic operations.  
she says. “The amount of time and  
2
. Time  
Use a stopwatch  
to measure how  
long a task takes.  
Note how many  
times a day that task is performed.  
energy wasted on poor quality out- What’s Next?  
put has been exponential, across the  
Looking ahead, the future of auto-  
board. I’m not sure how many man- mation for the door and window  
ufacturers are taking this into account machinery will see greater integration  
when assessing the negative impact with all of a company’s software, from  
that these thin-walled profiles are customer relationship management  
having on the bottom line financially, (CRM) to enterprise resource planning  
3
. Do the Math  
A couple of simple  
formulas for deter-  
mining time wasted  
and cost can help  
with your decision:  
not to mention the landfills.”  
(ERP) to optimization, which refers to  
using raw materials more efficiently.  
Automation can also play a huge  
Safety First  
Time  
time  
doing task  
times  
=
=
x
x
Another major plus for automa- role in the lean manufacturing process,  
tion is increased safety. The more a which focuses on maximizing flow  
machine does, the safer the process. while minimizing investments, scrap,  
That’s important, because operating travel within the plant and other wast-  
machinery remains one of the more ed movements and practices.  
wasted  
performed  
employee’s  
hourly  
time  
wasted  
Cost  
wage rate  
dangerous jobs in America.  
“About 40 percent of fatal indus- smaller footprint for production facil-  
Should you automate the process? tries in the workplace are transpor- ities, says Erdman’s Donohue.  
Consider it if an automated solution: tation-related, but 11 percent are “When looking at the next inno-  
As part of that, it could also mean a  
4
. Decide  
-
-
-
-
-
Saves money  
Saves labor costs  
Saves time  
Reduces scrap  
Increases yield  
equipment- or manufacturing-relat- vation for any industry, rather than  
ed,” said Mike Burk of GED, who has asking ourselves what does the cus-  
been heading up the Insulating Glass tomers want, a simple question to ask  
Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA) Glass is how can we make it for less money,  
Safety Awareness Council since 2011.  
using fewer people, in a smaller  
Process automation can drasti- space,” he says.  
y
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