A year ago, Randy Bacos was in trouble.
Workers retired and sales soared, and Barcus needed an additional 50 workers to load automatic milling machine
s and rigs for industrial sprayers that make Graco in Minneapolis.
Setbacks are growing.
\"If I can\'t assemble the parts on time, then this is an order that I can\'t complete,\" said Barcus, manager of the manufacturing unit at Graco . \".
\"This affects customer service.
This affects the speed of listing.
Graco has stepped up recruitment efforts, but this is not enough.
It also turned to robots to help solve the problem.
Ten years ago, Barcus said, Graco had no robots in the factory.
Now, the company has 24 large robots at its northeast Minni apores plant, and more will be installed this year to load parts into automated machines.
\"These robots work 24/7 with lights on or off,\" Barcus said . \".
Robots and the automated machines they work with are no stranger to Graco.
But it\'s like Minni aborith.
S. -based companies are adding more companies as they try to address labor shortages.
Robots can load parts into assembly lines or critical milling machines all day long.
Industry bosses say this allows humans to do other, more important jobs.
But they also acknowledge that there are skills problems with automating the entire production line.
Robots must talk to automated machines.
Human workers must know how to do this.
The problem is: Most workers are trained in machine or robot programming.
But they don\'t know how to combine the two.
As a solution, Graco\'s foundation gave Dunwoody Institute of Technology a grant to develop the firstof-its-
Training program in Minnesota.
The grant allowed the college to purchase the expensive machinery needed to create a new cross-pipe
Trained job seekers
By next year, Dunwoody\'s students will have the basic skills they need to start integrating the entire assembly line.
On a recent Friday, Barcus demonstrated the $1 complexity of Graco. 6mil (RM6. 54mil)
Automated manufacturing unit.
This particular machine-the size of a small house-manufactures cylinder parts for industrial sprayers used to paint bridges, boats, buses and trains.
Barks looked at a tall yellow robot holding a 15-
Remove it from the packing box and put it on the shelf.
The robot measures, takes pictures of each part one by one and feeds it into the automatic CNC (
Or computer numerical control)milling cage.
Sensing to \"delivery\", The Cage automatically closes the door, spews out the coolant, hollows the steel, and mill the thread to the top.
After finishing the milling, the yellow robot returns, grab, rinse and dry the parts and gently place them in the finish box.
In the neighborhood, the worker is glued to the adjacent computer, checking the programming, not just the loader.
\"I \'ve never seen a system like it before they brought it in,\" Corry Whitaker said . \" He worked as a CNC mechanic at Graco for seven years, 2014 from Anoka
\"You can see that it started out as a large piece of old steel and ended up being honed [part]that is five-
\"A dozen inches,\" he said.
\"This is Mercedes-Benz of [industrial]equipment.
I\'m still training with it.
It was a big attempt and a mistake for me.
Barcus said he and other plant managers wanted these advanced manufacturing units to be spread throughout the plant, but it was a daunting task.
Robots are not cheap.
Correctly programming a robot to communicate with a milling machine can take a year and a half.
Not enough workers know how to program and supervise cells, Barcus said.
But Graco, $1. 6bil (RM6. 54bil)
The company has pledged to spend 25% of its capital budget on improving automation at its Minneapolis, Rogers and Anoka plants.
The investment is worth it, Barcus said.
Greko officials hope that another investment in trained workers will pay off.
As part of the company\'s investment, it acquired a training unit for robots and CNC in Dunwoody.
\"Dunwoody is one of the first companies in the country to get the Fanuc MTEC system,\" E. J.
Diggle, head of robotics and machining department, Minneapolis college
\"They only sold about six kinds nationwide.
So, it\'s a fairly new system, and it\'s right here, he says, surrounded by three squatting students and two professors who are trying to program for robots and milling machines, make the original cribbage plate with steel.
This is the advanced, high
Technology robots will replace hard-to-fill jobs.
\"Now, in most areas of Graco ,[
Picking and loading and unloading parts]
\"It\'s someone\'s job, eight hours a day, five days a week,\" Daggle said, pointing to the robot, who grabbed a steel plug and loaded it into the milling machine.
\"The problem is that we don\'t have enough people who are willing to do the job.
Imagine if we had a robot. like this]
Can all this be done?
Then companies like Graco can deliver their products as scheduled.
Barcus stressed that robots did not replace workers.
\"We don\'t have enough mechanics and we \'ve been looking for good mechanics,\" he said . \".
\"Any new machine
We must take other higher levels of responsibility in machining.
The long labor shortage has prompted more American factories to switch to robots and automation at factories.
US factories have bought a record 34,905 robots worth $1. 98bil (RM8. 09bil)
According to the Association for Promoting automation, 2017. Non-
Car Robots have driven that growth, up 21% in a year.
But like Graco and \"everyone else in our industry knows that there are limitations to the idea of automation,\" said Jeff Bernstein, president of the robotics industry association.
First of all, there are not enough people trained to use the technology, he said.
\"It\'s not good for you to buy a robot.
\"MTEC cell arrived at Dunwoody on November and was installed and running on January, just in time for the spring semester course.
The company was not surprised by the training program funded by goodleton Ward.
Many companies need external programming companies called \"integrators\" that can allow robots to work with existing factory machines to automate production lines.
Jin Weiting of Dunwoody
Educated industrial engineer is working on the job at the Minni aborith factory in Graco and graduated a few years before the start of the new project.
\"I\'m jealous,\" she said of the opportunities now students have . \".
\"I\'m still learning [on this job]
This is a bit of a headache. Our [new]
Robots don\'t communicate with us. milling]machines.
This is a different language.
So it takes a long time to integrate.
It took her team five months to design a manufacturing unit.
When she showed visitors her integrated new robot/CNC manufacturing unit, she said that today\'s Dunwoody students are \"lucky\" that the unit can automatically shave steel burrs and have cylinders
Getting future job seekers to reach Graco through Dunwoody\'s new MTEC training helps shorten the integration process, she said.
\"That\'s what we think,\" Barcus said . \"
\"We have a lot of CNC [milling]
There are no robots on the machine.
As more robots join, Barcus says, they will \"run two or three CNC machines \".
This will improve the quality of the products and reduce the injury of workers.
Now, \"lift these [steel]
Slugs and iron bars are worn on your hands and shoulders over time, \"he said.
\"The robot took it away.
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