Rethinking Robots Close to Home
12. March 2013
Close to my home, that is. The Rodon Group—a mold manufacturer/molder that serves an array of industries including consumer products, medical, pharmaceutical, construction and toys—of Hatfield, PA—about 15 minutes from my office—is excited about its newest employee—a recently acquired Baxter, a new category of robot.
Baxter™ is redefining the way robots can be used in manufacturing environments of any size—even those that could not previously consider a robotic automation solution—and it is an alternative to low-cost offshoring, according to Rethink Robotics of Boston, MA. It performs a variety of simple, yet critical production tasks while safely and intelligently working next to people because it exhibits behavior-based ‘common sense,’ capable of sensing and adapting to its task and its environment. At The Rodon Group Baxter will be used to complete repetitive production tasks and will complement the already highly automated facility.
“Rodon’s automation partner ONExia has been instrumental in helping Rodon become an early adopter of Baxter. Being the competent integrators they are, ONExia knew the wide range of tasks we expect from our robots. As a custom molder Rodon has a myriad of requirements that constantly evolve with new jobs, and the versatility of Baxter will be a huge asset moving forward”, says Tony Hofmann, Rodon’s Facility Manager.
Within a few hours of testing, Baxter was packing boxes on The Rodon Group’s factory floor. With built in sensors to make Baxter “aware” of its surroundings, this robot can be deployed near people and trained by the workers it is assisting. No lines of programming are necessary.
Initially, Baxter will be used to help pack K’NEX construction toys, specifically tracks for the Mario Kart Wii ™ racing sets but there are several other applications in mind for down the road.