A supplier of automation technology to plastics processors throughout North America, Robotic Automation Systems announced that it broke ground on its new manufacturing facility on April 5, 2021. Construction on the plant in Waunakee, WI, is expected to be completed by October. In addition to expanding manufacturing space, the new facility will allow Robotic Automation Systems to consolidate its design, engineering, and manufacturing operations under one roof. The upgrade is needed, Craig Tormoen, President, told PlasticsToday because of growing demand for automation systems as processors seek solutions to the skilled labor shortage.
The new facility will enable the design and manufacture of larger, more complex turnkey plastic molding automation systems, and expand the company’s reach into other manufacturing segments, where robotics and automation systems can help increase productivity and address workforce shortages, added Tormoen.
Demand for automation has been growing at a record rate for the past three to four years, said Tormoen, as companies struggle to find employees, and this has been exacerbated by the pandemic and associated issues. “Press operators can’t work from home, and there are many compounding reasons for the labor shortage,” said Tormoen. “The comment I have heard the most from customers is that the government is paying people who don’t want to work to stay home with incentive money.”
Smaller plastics processors that have not invested in automation are now forced to take a good, hard look at their business practices, according to Tormoen. They need to evaluate what can be automated and gauge the level of employee support “if they want to grow and compete, or even survive” as a business.
While the labor shortage — be it endemic or artificially created in the short term — is good for companies such as his that develop automation systems, Tormoen feels strongly that “this environment cannot go on for an extended period of time without major consequences for any company that needs skilled labor. Not everything can be automated.”
That’s true. Although, it should be said, that when you start to consider the possibilities, it’s pretty amazing how many tasks, in fact, can be automated. It’s no wonder that the robotics markets is forecast to grow at more than 20% through 2026, according to market analysis firm Mordor Intelligence.