Kickstart: Adding robots during a workforce shortage

The labor shortage is prompting more investments in automation, with companies buying equipment that can pick up the slack on shop floors.At least that’s the take from Wittmann Battenfeld Inc., the U.S. branch of Austrian machinery maker Wittmann Battenfeld GmbH, as it set a new U.S. record for robot sales.”Our robot and automation business in 2021 has just taken off,” . “We are hearing more and more from our customers that they need to automate.”Sonny Morneault, Wittmann Battenfeld’s vice president of sales, said one customer said a new automation cell will do the work of 11 people.Of course there’s a hitch in robot purchasing plans. Wittmann Battenfeld, like everyone else, is hustling in the face of “significant” cost increases and supply delays for materials.Robots, of course, do more than build things. They play basketball (or at least , as we’ve learned from the Tokyo Olympics). They dance (as via a viral video).And they also can help clean small Plastic particles from beaches.The was made by Poralu Marine, working with the environmental group 4ocean. Unlike human cleanup workers, who are great at collecting bottles and bags, the BeBot sifts through sand to remove far smaller plastic pieces.The BeBot is going through testing now on beaches near 4ocean’s offices in Florida, but the group is planning on sending an additional robot to Hawaii. When Jonathan Deitchman decided to develop a simulated surface of Mars for the A.J. Read Science Discovery Center at SUNY Oneonta for his Boy Scout community service project in 2020 to become an Eagle Scout, he ran into a big, clear, plastic hurdle.During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, large sheets of acrylic — like the one he needed for his 8-by-10-foot — were in high demand in retail shops, schools, offices and factories.That’s when Curbell Plastics Inc.’s Syracuse Inside Sales Manager Pat Silkey learned about the project and decided he would help make sure the project didn’t halt before takeoff.The acrylic needed to be thick enough and tough enough to stand up to kids who will be able to interact with the “Mars” surface, so after a lot of discussions with Deitchman about his project, Silkey was able to deliver a sheet cut to the project’s exact needs.The Mission to M.A.R.S. was officially completed and dedicated as the science center’s first permanent display in May 2021.And Deitchman officially received his Eagle Scout papers on July 4.”I am proud of the work I put into this project and of all the volunteers and companies that helped out, including Curbell Plastics and Mr. Silkey,” he said. “We couldn’t have done it without them.” Do you have an opinion about this story? Do you have some thoughts you’d like to share with our readers? Plastics News would love to hear from you. Email your letter to Editor at Staying current is easy with Plastics News delivered straight to your inbox, free of charge. Subscribe to Plastics News Plastics News covers the business of the global plastics industry. We report news, gather data and deliver timely information that provides our readers with a competitive advantage.Customer Service:

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