About a year ago, The Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte concluded that rapid industry growth and massive employee retirement over the next decade will necessitate the recruitment of 3.4 million additional workers. However surprisingly, the industry is still projected to fall short of a startling two million workers. How do industries fill the voids created by critical labour shortage issues? The answer to this question lies in robotic automation, and Monroe, WI-based Quest Industrial helps filling these voids with specialization in advanced robotics and integrated vision systems.
With the most innovative and unique solutions in the robotic automation industry, Quest Industrial effectively bridges employment gaps in organizations by automating major tasks that are hard to tackle manually. Presently, 60-80 percent of the firm’s robotic solutions cater to the food industry, whereas plastics and durable goods industry account for the rest. For the food industry, in particular, Quest brings robotic cheese pick and place system—is capable of picking and placing raw, as well as packaged cheese, as well as food robotics for the produce and deli industry, with utmost accuracy and swiftness. The company is also considered the first in the industry to bring a robot in cheese handling application.
Quest Industrial even develops its own vision systems and blends those off-the-shelf systems with the newest safety technologies in order to design the robust robotic automation solutions. The company incorporates over 5000 in-house algorithms to the robotic arm of FANUC, consequently delivering much enhanced scanning technology and End of Arm Tooling.
Quest Industrial incorporates over 5000 in-house algorithms to the robotic arm of FANUC, consequently delivering much enhanced scanning technology and End of Arm Tooling
In the words of Don Wickstrum, Founder and CEO of Quest Industrial, “90 percent of our systems are 2D, 3D vision, and 3D scanner-driven we’ve developed most of the algorithms, for our solutions, in-house.”
Quest Industrial also deftly addresses another key element, which often remains a challenge in the food processing industry—food hygiene. The implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has essentially doubled the strictness to ensure safety within the U.S. food supply sector. But Quest Industrial’s vast experience with the WDA, 3-A, and USDA has resulted in development of tool sets that are not only food-safe, but also reliable and cleanable. The proficient End of Arm Tooling by Quest eliminates chances of holes or usage of tubes, by replacing them with NO external vacuum sources, generators, or vacuum pumps to pick a particular product.
To put the unique advantages offered by Quest Industrial’s robotic solutions in a clearer perspective, Wickstrum points out a study conducted by his team. The study aimed to apprehend the key challenges faced by Quest Industrial’s clients owing to labour shortage and delivered some alarming statistics. The study highlighted that employee supervisors were 15-18 percent, and co-workers 29-33 percent, less productive as a direct result of employee gap. Consequently, as demand for products increased, 43 percent of the companies’ net production cost was assigned to cope with recurring labour gap related drawbacks. To address these challenges, Quest Industrial employed its efficient pick and place robotics in areas where labour gap issues were prevalent and repetitive. Their pick robotics methodically packed cheese and the tray robotics increased the rate of pour by freeing up four employees for other organizational units where they could add more value. Automation not only resulted in a steady additional ROI of 35-150 percent payback for labour absenteeism, but also steered over 96 percent OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) and ROI.
Having already developed robust 3D vision and scanning systems, Quest Industrial is now aiming to develop advanced agricultural robotics, since this particular sector still encounters immense labour shortage. As Quest Industrial continues pushing the envelope of robotic automation, Wickstrum concludes by saying, “Rather than waiting for the industry to come up with solutions for us, we’re constantly innovating newer solutions to aid our customers.”