"Flexibility” is not a word that has been commonly associated with automation in manufacturing facilities. For custom parts manufacturers, that has typically meant that traditional automation options were off-limits for the majority of their processes.
They are not alone. In fact, a recent study by Boston Consulting Group suggests that 90% of manufacturing tasks in today’s plants are not good candidates for traditional automation solutions, primarily because they lack the fast changeover potential needed to support the flexibility of most high-mix manufacturing environments. With the advent of smart, collaborative robotics like Rethink Robotics’ Baxter, that percentage is beginning to shrink significantly.