The great majority of firms in the region feel the need for robotic technologies
Toulouse, 25 November 2014 – Following the launch of its “Factory of the Future” plan by the Midi-Pyrénées region of France, SPIE Sud-Ouest, independent European leader for the supply of multi-technical services in the fields of energy and communications, is mobilising in support of the regional authority by offering its expertise to companies seeking to modernise their industrial processes.
The “Factory of the Future” (Usine du Futur) plan was launched by the Midi-Pyrénées region on October 29 and is an integral part of the “New Industrial France” strategy initiated by the French government a year ago.
The objective is to provide individual assistance to of about 100 companies seeking to develop an industrial excellence project by issuing a call for expressions of interest. In this way, the region aims to help SMEs finance a support plan or, if they are undecided, a diagnostic analysis. SPIE Sud-Ouest is one of the expert organisations listed as being able to help firms implement their plans to modernise their industrial facilities.
A real need for suitable efficient tools
It was clearly demonstrated, at the SIANE industrial fair held in Toulouse between October 20 and 22, that the region’s firms have a real need for efficient robotic tools. A survey organised by SPIE Sud-Ouest during the exhibition revealed the following points:
- 65.7% of the firms surveyed had no industrial robots.
- 38.2% of them said industrial robots would increase their production rates and 24.5% said they would improve quality.
- But 62.9% said that it was budget considerations that were holding them back and 64.3% said they did not plan to make such an investment next year.
“These results show that many firms, especially SMEs, have only limited knowledge on this subject,” says Xavier Barthou, robotics and mechanised systems business manager at SPIE Sud-Ouest. “Most of them saw robots in an industrial process as necessarily large-scale installations requiring quick return on investment. Managers are also concerned about labour-related consequences, especially job losses.
“But when I go to see a firm, the real situation is often very different,” he explains. “There may not be any need to install a robot but simply to adopt simple steps to improve the industrial process. When I do recommend the installation of a robot, it’s often to avoid employees having to carry out tiring, repetitive actions which can lead to repetitive strain injuries (RSI). They may then remain at their work stations doing a different task or be assigned to other tasks with higher value added. Another misconception is thinking that robots are only made for mass production lines. In fact, the great attraction of a robot compared to a specific machine is its versatility which enables it to handle small production runs. Another requirement for company managers is that, if a robot is shut down for any reason, an employee must be able to take its place immediately.”
Robotics: a key factor of competitiveness
SPIE Sud-Ouest is receiving more and more enquiries about robotic equipment. One example is the case of Solev, a small company based in Martel, in France’s Lot department. Following a 2011 merger with the French Pochet group, an international specialist in bottles and plastic packagings for the perfume and cosmetics industry, the firm had to modernise its industrial plant. In July this year, SPIE Sud-Ouest was called in to improve the assembly of miscellaneous perfume and cosmetics packaging components on a decoration line with mobile varnishing tools. The four employees working on this line had to perform tedious repetitive actions. With the installation of a robot, the process became fully automated. Productivity was improved and the company was able to assign its employees to more skilled work.
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