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posted by martyb on Wednesday January 19, @07:49PM   Printer-friendly
from the it-has-begun dept.

Now You Can Rent a Robot Worker:

Polar Manufacturing has been making ​metal ​hinges, locks, and brackets ​in south Chicago for more than 100 years. Some of the company's metal presses—hulking great machines that loom over a worker—date from the 1950s. Last year, to meet rising demand amid a shortage of workers, Polar hired its first robot employee.

The robot arm performs a simple, repetitive job: lifting a piece of metal into a press, which then bends the metal into a new shape. And like a person, the robot worker gets paid for the hours it works.

​Jose Figueroa​, who manages Polar's production line, says the robot, which is leased from a company called Formic, costs the equivalent of $8 per hour, compared with a minimum wage of $15 per hour for a human employee. Deploying the robot allowed a human worker to do different work, increasing output, Figueroa says.

"Smaller companies sometimes suffer because they can't spend the capital to invest in new technology," Figueroa says. "We're just struggling to get by with the minimum wage increase."


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  • (Score: 2) by PinkyGigglebrain on Wednesday January 19, @09:00PM (1 child)

    by PinkyGigglebrain (4458) on Wednesday January 19, @09:00PM (#1213944)

    From the article

    The fact that Polar didn’t need to pay $100,000 upfront to buy the robot, and then spend more money to get it programmed, was crucial. ...

    Sounds like the upfront costs are non existent beyond the initial installation of the hardware and associated safety equipment.

    Factor in the extra costs of a Human like unemployment and health insurance payments the company has to make using a bot makes a lot of sense for the erpetative and potentially dangerous tasks on a production floor. Just until now its usually been to costly to install a bot.

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  • (Score: 2) by DrkShadow on Wednesday January 19, @10:07PM

    by DrkShadow (1404) on Wednesday January 19, @10:07PM (#1213960)

    Whoops, one follow-up to that:

    It's probably like an employee, where it's hard to fire them. You likely commit to minimums per time period, and you likely commit to minimum time periods. It doesn't make sense for Formic to give you a robot that you leave sitting in the corner, nor for them to ship you a robot that you're only going to use for a week. (You'd likely pay exceptionally for that -- and it might still be less than bringing on an employee, but not less than hiring a temp agency for temporary labor.)