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EYES ON EFFICIENCY Technology and automation, including the use of robots, slash costs, speed work flow and improve accuracy for manufacturers.

Baxter the robot packs suction cups at the Rodon Group in Hatfield. - (Photo / Brian Pedersen)

Can automation save manufacturing?

Can automation save manufacturing?

In many cases, it already has.

Manufacturers, engineers, information technology pros and creative people of all stripes are starting to realize that by focusing their talents on using technology to increase the efficiency of the manufacturing process. They, in turn, are making U.S. manufacturing more profitable.

It may be expensive to acquire the technology and train employees on how to use it, but the end result appears to be worth the investment for manufacturers.

When manufacturing companies remain in the U.S., they make themselves more competitive.

“We keep making incremental investments in information and technology to stay globally competitive,” said Michael Araten, president and CEO of The Rodon Group and K’NEX Brands in Hatfield.

The Rodon Group is a vertical injection molder that creates small plastic parts for a variety of industries. With two plants in Hatfield, Rodon is a subsidiary of K’NEX Brands, which makes parts for educational construction toys for children. Over the years, The Rodon Group has made a significant investment in technology.

“Every press has some kind of robot,” Araten said. “We only have five people on each shift.”

However, the idea of machines replacing people, thereby reducing jobs, is not entirely accurate, Araten said.

“It’s about becoming more competitive so they can keep those jobs here,” said Walt Hoffert, business development manager for Manufacturers Resource Center in Bethlehem, an organization that offers training and funding assistance to manufacturers.

Brian Pedersen
Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4108.

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