Challenged with a hard-to-find human workforce, family owned company brings in a robot
Family-owned furniture manufacturer Moduform has given a job to Rethink Robotics’ Sawyer collaborative robot at its Fitchburg, Massachusetts facility.
Faced with a shortage of workers, Moduform brought in Sawyer to fill that gap.
The company says utilising the collaborative robot is also helping to improve innovation, create better jobs for existing employees and meet market demands in the furniture manufacturing industry.
Josh Weissman, CEO at Moduform, says: “In the furniture business, many of the production jobs can be monotonous or temporary due to the seasonality of customer demand.
“Because of this, we can struggle with employee turnover and finding workers who are willing to simply pick up and put down parts all day long.
“With Sawyer, we don’t have to worry about finding people to complete these tasks.
“We can focus on recruiting workers for advanced work, such as cognitive jobs that leverage technology on the factory floor, and offer career advancement opportunities.”
Moduform builds furniture for a wide variety of institutions, including colleges, libraries, healthcare facilities, military bases, detention and public safety spaces.
With a diverse customer base, Moduform needs a flexible and durable workforce that can ramp up on orders quickly and meet seasonal market demands.
Since installing Sawyer, Moduform says it has been able to consistently adapt to and meet customer’s needs by running longer operations and producing parts quicker.
Sawyer is currently being used in the work cell to help assemble drawers. Its versatility allows the robot to be used on various tasks to build the drawer, including:
- picking up parts from the pick pallet;
- pushing them into place;
- sliding them into a dovetail machine;
- turning on the machine;
- retracting the piece; and
- repeating the process until the drawer is complete.
Sawyer ensures each piece is aligned correctly and is the correct dimensions.
Moduform’s manufacturing engineer is quickly able to deploy Sawyer on different tasks based on what application Sawyer would be most helpful for on any given day.
Weissman says: “Automation and robotics are changing our business. Like every company, we’re constantly faced with the need to increase our efficiencies while closely managing our spending.
“If we can continually improve our processes, we can create better products.
“Sawyer gives us the ability to deliver orders without excessive downtime, as well as allocate more resources to being more innovative and creative on the factory floor – which ultimately moves our business forward.”
Moduform was founded in 1976, and the company buys parts and services locally while selling finished product internationally.
With locations in Massachusetts and North Carolina, Moduform has always prioritized having a progressive outlook in terms of robotics and automation.
Jim Lawton, chief product and marketing officer at Rethink Robotics, says: “Globally, manufacturers are seeking solutions that allow them to affordably cater to changing market demands.
“In such a competitive industry, having solutions that allow them to stay innovative and create their products efficiently is a huge win.
“However, many manufacturers have to allocate excessive time and resources to finding workers for their factories.
“Our collaborative robots offer a solution that closes the labor gap and allows manufacturers to deploy flexible automation, so they can stay competitive in an ever-changing market.”