[VIDEO] Sawyer, the robot to completely revolutionize smart manufacturing
On the heels of a $26.6 million investment, Boston-based robot maker Rethink Robotics is about to unveil its newest manufacturing robot — one that could help alleviate international labor shortage woes.
Sawyer, slimmer and lighter than its well-known sibling Baxter, was designed to specifically to complete mundane and repetitive tasks such as machine tending, testing and inspection in the US and at overseas manufacturing plants. The new one-armed robot has such a delicate touch that it is able to handle complex manufacturing processes like never before.
“There's a massive market doing those sorts of jobs outside the U.S. and Sawyer is designed from the ground up to be the kind of robot we can take internationally,” said Rethink's CEO Scott Eckert in an interview.
Nearly half of the employees at a typical overseas electronics manufacturing plant are working on simple machine tending tasks, which involve picking up pieces of hardware and putting them into machines for testing, Eckert said.
Eckert estimates that millions of people are doing these tasks around the world, specifically in countries that are currently facing massive labor shortages, including China.
At $29,000 per unit (compared with $25,000 for Baxter), and a five-year life span, manufacturing plants facing these shortages will use Sawyer to perform simple tasks quickly and efficiently.
But Eckert says that doesn't mean humans will be out of jobs because of robots like Sawyer. To date, none of Rethink's customers have reduced their workforces as a result of purchasing the company's robots, Eckert said.
“Sawyer is going to do the jobs that people don't want to do, and people will be doing much more interesting jobs because Sawyer is doing the simple, basic, repetitive tasks that don't take advantage of what people can do,” Eckert said.
Watch a video of Sawyer in action below:
Ultium Cells LLC/Li-Cycle: Sustainable Battery Manufacturing
Ultium Cells LLC - a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions - has announced its latest collaboration with Li-Cycle. Joining forces the two have set ambitions to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing
What is Ultium Cells LLC?
Announcing their partnership in December 2019, General Motors (GM) and LG Energy Solutions established Ultium Cells LLC with a mission to “ensure excellence of Battery Cell Manufacturing through implementation of best practices from each company to contribute [to the] expansion of a Zero Emission propulsion on a global scale.”
Who is Li-Cycle?
Founded in 2016, Li-Cycle leverages innovative solutions to address emerging and urgent challenges around the world.
As the use of Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in automotive, industrial energy storage, and consumer electronic applications rises, Li-Cycle believes that “the world needs improved technology and supply chain innovations to better recycle these batteries, while also meeting the rapidly growing demand for critical and scarce battery-grade materials.”
Why are Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces?
By joining forces to expand the recycling of scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing in North America, the new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells LLC to recycle cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum.
“95% of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries,” says GM, who explains that the new hydrometallurgical process emits 30% less greenhouse gases (GHGs) than traditional processes, minimising the environmental impact. Use of this process will begin later in the year (2021).
"Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain. This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining, " said Ajay Kochhar, President, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle.
"GM's zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90% of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025. Now, we're going to work closely with Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to help the industry get even better use out of the materials,” added Ken Morris, Vice President of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles, GM.
Since 2013, GM has recycled or reused 100% of the battery packs it has received from customers, with most current GM EVs repaired with refurbished packs.
"We strive to make more with less waste and energy expended. This is a crucial step in improving the sustainability of our components and manufacturing processes,” concluded Thomas Gallagher, Chief Operating Officer, Ultium Cells LLC.