You will often hear or read about a future in which robots have stolen our jobs. ‘This is nonsense,’ says Rob van Oene, director of Mifa. ‘Robots make our work easier and are a valuable addition.’ Much of the heavy and repetitive work that is still being done by people can also be done by robots. In this way, employees can concentrate on the more interesting activities – a win-win for everyone involved.
A more engaging environment and more enjoyable work
This statement sums up the opinion of many employees in the technology industry. A huge 83% of them seeing digitization and robotization as an opportunity. * At Mifa, robots are used for the boring and strenuous work, which is something you would rather not have employees do. That way, we create more time and scope for employees to perform interesting work. Mifa currently has two robot lines and is preparing to introduce a co-robot.
Robot lines accelerate and improve work processes
Mifa has been investing in robotization for many years, with the first robot line constructed in 2008. The robots on the line load the machines and manoeuvre products. Everything is then measured fully automatically, and the products are placed on pallets. The second robot line followed in 2017 and was fully designed and equipped by Mifa's R&D department.
The robot lines also provide valuable data that we can use to further refine our processes. Machines become self-correcting and automatically signal when a part needs to be replaced. All of this helps to further reduce the minimum error rate. Van Oene sees a future in which customers’ enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are linked to Mifa's ERP system, so that Mifa automatically knows when customers need a new profile and can start production immediately.
Co-robotization is the key to the future
Van Oene believes co-robots are the key to a successful future for Mifa. ‘We do not intend to replace employees with robots. However, we do see a future in the smart use of robots, as this will mean that we can assign the more enjoyable tasks to employees and have the robots take care of the repetitive or heavy work that nobody wants to do.’
Van Oene states that there is still a huge demand for technical staff in the technical sector. ‘Because training programmes dedicate little or no time to precision extrusion, we also have our own Mifa academy to teach people the tricks of the trade,’ says Van Oene.
Smarter and faster work using a co-robot
Co-robots are robots that help people: they can simplify work or make it less physically demanding. This work could be unpacking products from a pallet and placing them on the table. In the current situation, an employee takes the product out of the pallet, puts it on the table, starts deburring, and then puts it in another pallet. You can simplify this process by connecting a robot to it that picks up the product and places it on the table, so that the employee then only has to perform the deburring. The robot then places the product in the other pallet. All of this considerably accelerates the process. The employee also does not have to bend down, pack heavy products, or perform other strenuous work. Van Oene sees opportunities in various departments at Mifa to simplify employees’ work or make it less physically demanding by using robots. ‘You could introduce compact robots that have learned a certain skill, such as picking something up or putting it away.’
If you want to know more about robots and how they can be used, please feel free to contact us. If you are looking for a job and want to work in an innovative environment, have a look at our job openings here.