As the first known plastics thermoformer to use a collaborative robot for trimming, Kal Plastics is blazing a trail for others. The Los Angeles-based contract manufacturer deployed the Universal Robots UR10e trimming cobot for a fraction of the cost and lead time of a CNC machine, cutting trimming time nearly in half and reducing late shipments to under one percent—all while improving employee safety and growth opportunities.
The Business Transformation
California is a tough state for manufacturing, with high costs of labor, occupancy, and energy, as well as a challenging regulatory environment for workers’ compensation. Along with those challenges, Kal Plastics president and CEO Juliet Oehler Goff is also dealing with labor issues that are common across the country: workers who are less interested in manufacturing jobs. Goff says, “We’re always looking for ways to work safer, work smarter, work faster.” When Kal Plastics needed to replace a CNC machine that was nearing the end of its useful life, Goff was presented with an ideal opportunity.
“I did my homework and found that Universal Robots is the global leader in the collaborative robot space,” Goff says. “They came out and gave us a demonstration, and when I looked at the numbers, they were really attractive. I was looking at getting another five-axis CNC router, and at the time it would have been a quarter-of-a-million-dollar investment and I would have waited 12 months to take delivery. When I met with UR, I was quoted two weeks to get the equipment, and the entry point was a quarter or a fifth of the cost.”