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Rise of the robots? Automation is transforming the workplace — with some headscratching



Photo: Lanco Integrated CEO Bob Kuniega, right, (with Manufacturing Project Leader Peter Brazier) says the decision to automate is about weighing the costs of manual processes against more automated ones.


Manual vs. automated

How automated can automation be?

“Automation is all in the eye of the user and/or company,” says Bob Kuniega, president and CEO of Lanco Integrated in Westbrook. “It really is about a cost benefit analysis, weighing manual processes against more automated ones. Manual processes inherently have a higher labor content versus automated ones, requiring more upfront capital investments to offset applied labor hours.”

Lanco makes robotic systems for clients to perform mass product assembly and tests. Kuniega notes the terms “robots” and “automation” are not equivalent. Robots are a component tool, like other items such as imaging, digitization of data and artificial intelligence.

“Automation is the thoughtful integration of various tools to improve a process outcome,” he says.

The result? Improved throughput, enhanced quality, scrap reduction, worker safety and reduced cost.

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