Tag Archives: systems

Material Handling

Robots vs. Humans

Does automation eliminate jobs? The answer is both yes and no, which is to say that it’s a little more complicated than that. If we look at the global working population from the Industrial Revolution until today, the answer to that question is a resounding “NO, automation does not eliminate jobs.” Many more people are working today than were employed 200 years ago, even as technological innovations steadily eroded the jobs available to humans.

Perhaps a better question to ask is which jobs were eliminated by automation. You won’t find any buggy whip manufacturers in your town, unless it’s in a place like Colonial Williamsburg. Nobody is hand-making nails or binding books on a hand press.

The types of human jobs that are going to continue to be replaced by automation are the 4 D’s:


Robots don’t complain about working conditions. Their “bodies” are built to withstand factory conditions that would not be acceptable to a human. This can give robots a huge financial advantage. No health care. No sick leave. No workmen’s comp claims.


Humans are incredibly adept at doing complex tasks. The fact is, however, that humans do not complete those tasks in a repeatable fashion with near zero tolerance precision over an extended period of time with no rest. Robots can do very difficult tasks, like heavy multi-pass arc welding while making corrections and adjustments on the fly. They can sort, pick and place boxes that are coming from 6, 8, 10 different conveyor lines simply by reading a bar code. It’s more difficult to implement than it looks, but that’s why you pay an integrator. (Shameless plug)


Repetitive tasks can drive employees batty, but a robot never gets bored. It will perform the same task the same way all day and all night long, without making errors due to fatigue or other factors common to human labor. The old picture of an automotive assembly line with a bunch of people doing the same thing all day has been replaced by a sea of robots.


Toxic fumes, explosive conditions and other hazards can make human employment undesirable or impossible. Thankfully we can send robots in to do the work instead. Many industries have already incorporated robotic paint booths. Chemicals manufacturers are steadily adopting robots into their environments as well.

Robots will never replace humans. Humans are your most valuable and infinitely deployable asset. Robots will, however, take over more and more tasks. Your task is to figure out which ones. We can help you in that process.

Call or email for more information.

Dan Askins



Integrator Dater

Choosing a robot integrator is like choosing a spouse. You need to proceed with caution and patience, with a view toward the future. Many integrators have a great appearance, but are not equipped to follow through on the promises they make. Below are some questions to ask that can help you choose the right “mate”:

  • Have you done this before?Marriage
    • Plasma welding is far different from heavy multi-pass welding or aluminum welding. Your particular application might have unique challenges that the integrator has never faced before.
    • The same goes for material handling. Anybody can throw down a conveyor. Can they handle 64 unique SKU’s on 8 different lines?
  • What robots do you work with?Not all robots are built the same. Some brands are better at particular tasks than others. We work across several robot platforms, which allows us to be “robot neutral”. ISI works with the customer to make the best fit for their particular application and environment.
  • What is your specialty?Can do
    • If an integrator says, “Yeah we can do that too,” you might want to choose another partner. Nobody is great at everything. Perhaps a Porsche can get through that mud bog, but do you really want to try it out on your dime?Porsche Mud
    • At ISI we focus on two main areas: welding and material handling. We have a depth and breadth of knowledge in these two segments that gives us a great deal of confidence to do just about anything. We don’t know much about paint, however, so we don’t do it.
  • What is your timeframe?
    • It is a happy dilemma to be busy. Any integrator worth its salt should have a plate full of work, but they should also be able to give you a reasonable date to complClockete your project. It is better to under-promise and over-deliver.