Friday, December 13, 2013

Is There a Robot in Your Distribution Future? - Article from Modern Materials Handling

The following is an excerpt from an article written by Bob Trebilcock, Executive Editor for entitled  "Is There a Robot in Your Distribution Future?"

The article takes a look at the use of Rethink Robotics flagship robot Baxter being used in the Genco Distribution Facility in Ft. Worth, Texas.
"If a new process for handling consumer electronics continues to deliver results, the future of materials handling may include a striking red robot with big digital eyes, bushy digital eyebrows and a quizzical expression that makes you want to smile.
At Genco’s campus in Ft. Worth, Texas, Baxter, as the robot is known (Rethink Robotics), is working side by side with team members on a packaging line. The campus includes 1 million square feet of distribution space spread across three buildings and handles the return, repair and refurbishment of consumer electronics products such as cell phones and GPS navigation systems.

In this process, employees load four products—one at a time—into a form that goes into the sealer. When they come out the other side, Baxter picks and places four packages at a time on a takeaway conveyor that delivers them to the next step in the process.
Why the interest in piece-picking robots? “The cost and flexibility of the technology has lowered the barriers to entry for robotics,” says Jeremiah Miele, a Pittsburgh-based project engineer who is leading Genco’s robotics efforts. Read more about how Baxter works in this facility.
“There’s an ability to do things with robotics that didn’t exist five or 10 years ago,” adds Pete Rector, executive vice president of technology and lean solutions for Genco. “We think it’s just a matter of time before robotics are mainstream in materials handling. It’s going to happen faster than people think.”
Read the rest of the article at (Modern Materials Handling) and see how Baxter is revolutionizing the Genco facility.

Link to full Article:

Tim Pelesky
Marketing ONExia Inc

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

ONExia is now partnered with Codian Robotics

Codian Robotics supplies high speed pick & place robots that do not run on a dedicated robot control system. The gearboxes and servo motors are mounted on the robot's frame and all other moving parts have a lightweight construction. This allows the robot to be dynamic and fast.
Codian robots use the control system of the customer, eliminating the need for a duplicate control system. Through this unique feature, they meet the needs of a growing demand from the market, to have one integral control system for the machine. In turn, purchase price, maintenance costs and physical space are saved. At the same time no communication is required between two control systems of different manufacturers.
Codian robots are supplied with planetary gearboxes. If required servo motors are included. Codian Robotics does not depend on working with a specific brand, but instead works with suppliers of servo motors and control systems worldwide.
Codian robots are specifically suited for the packaging industry as well as for the food and pharmaceutical industry. The Codian robots have existed since 2002 and were built by a manufacturer of robot lines. There are over 1000 robots world-wide in use.
On June 1, 2011, Codian Robotics was established as an independent company.
For more information on Codian Robotics visit

Tim Pelesky
Marketing ONExia Inc

Monday, September 23, 2013

Rethink Robotics Launches Baxter 2.0 Software

BOSTON, MA, – September 23, 2013 – Rethink Robotics today announced a game-changing update to the software of the company’s flagship interactive production robot, Baxter. The 2.0 software will introduce a new set of applications, making Baxter an even more effective productivity tool for American manufacturers. Existing customers will be able to easily download the new software and upgrade their Baxter robot.
Baxter is now able to pick and place parts at any axis, allowing the robot to perform a broad array of new tasks, such as picking objects off of a shelf, or loading machines in a horizontal motion. The 2.0 software also allows the customer to define waypoints with increased accuracy; users will be able to define the exact trajectory that they want Baxter’s arms to follow simply by moving them. For example, the robot can be taught where to move its arms in and out of a machine. In addition, the 2.0 software enables customers to train Baxter to hold its arms in space for a predetermined amount of time, or until a signal indicates they can begin moving again. This makes Baxter useful for holding parts in front of scanners, inspection cameras or painting stations, and for working more interactively with other machines (i.e., moving its hand out of a machine while it cycles).
In addition to its expanded task capabilities, Baxter with 2.0 software also features a number of overall performance improvements. Baxter can now operate at a significantly faster pace, pick and place objects with increased consistency and move more fluidly between points. With improvements to its integrated vision, Baxter now has the ability to detect and distinguish between a broader range of part geometries, further broadening its capacity for variably shaped objects.
“Over the past year, our customers have seen increased productivity and efficiency with the help of Baxter,” said Scott Eckert, president and CEO of Rethink Robotics. “While Baxter’s 2.0 software will greatly expand the possibilities for both new and existing customers, this release is just the beginning. Baxter is a unique, upgradable software platform, and the robot’s capabilities will continue to evolve to help manufacturers increase their overall efficiency, and help them realize an even greater return on their investment over time.”
“Baxter’s ability to expand its capabilities make it a unique and invaluable platform,” said Jeremiah Miele, Project Engineer for Genco, a leading third party logistics (3PL) provider. “We’ve been running Baxter for a while, and with the 2.0 software upgrade we’re able to unlock new applications for our Baxter robots throughout the facility that weren’t possible before.”
About Rethink Robotics
Rethink Robotics, Inc. develops intelligent, affordable, user-friendly robots that can operate safely next to people in a wide range of manufacturing, production and R&D environments.  Rethink Robotics’ Baxter is the world’s first interactive production robot, making manufacturers of all sizes more efficient, their workers more productive, and helping to keep jobs from migrating to low-cost regions. The Baxter Research Robot is a humanoid robot platform with integrated sensors and an open software development kit allowing academic and corporate researchers to create custom applications.  Based in the Innovation District of Boston, Massachusetts, the company is funded by Charles River Ventures, Highland Capital Partners, Sigma Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Bezos Expeditions, the personal investment company of Jeff Bezos.
Are you in the Mid-Atlantic Region and want to see the 2.0 software for yourself? Sign up today for our Baxter Meet and Greet at our facility in West Chester PA this Ocboter
Sign up today!

Tim Pelesky
Marketing ONExia Inc

Thursday, June 6, 2013

ATX East 2013 in Philadelphia - The Vendors in Our Booth

We are really excited to be at ATX East in two weeks (June 18-20, 2013) at the Philadelphia Convention Center in Pennyslvania. In the past two years we have been fortunate to partner with the worlds best in robotics, machine vision, and motion control. All of which will be featured in our booth. Below is a quick rundown of what to expect when you stop by booth #1825.

Robotiq is a premier distributor of robotic grippers. ONExia will have their 2 Finger Adaptive Gripper-90 and 3 Finger Adaptive Gripper as a live demo as well as a stationary 2 Finger Adaptive Gripper-200 which is a larger version of the 90 capable of picking larger and heavier objects.

Delta Tau is our go to standard for motion control. To show their true power and capabilities we will be featuring two separate demo units. The first being a system that moves two rails in unison with and without a payload showing extreme precision. The second being the Delta Robot, a truly amazing demonstration of precision picking and re-stacking objects on a rotary table.

Datalogic specializes in machine vision (smart cameras, barcode scanners, etc.) and laser engraving and marking systems. As a demonstration of laser marking visitors will be able to engrave their names onto a ONExia pen and see the system work first hand.

We are proud to be the distributor Rethink Robotics in the Mid Atlantic Region. We will have the world's first Collaborative Robot,  Baxter at work in our booth. The revolutionary robot will be using our custom end effectors accessories that we have been developing. Piab vacuum cups, our latest partner, will be used in our demonstration showing that Baxter is more versatile then ever.

Want to see all this for yourself? Sign up for free through us and stop by!

We hope to see you there.

Sign up for ATX East for free through ONExia.

Tim Pelesky
Marketing ONExia Inc

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Disruptive Technology: Baxter

We were fortunate to be involved with motion control as it became practical for general automation in the mid-1980s. ONExia (called “Multitech” back then) was an early distributor for a California start-up named Compumotor, which sold stepping motor drives, controls and motors and then later, servo motors, controllers and drives.

Compumotor pioneered industrial applications for microstepping technology, which had been developed at Hewlett Packard for application in printers. Microstepping enabled stepping motors to rotate smoothly and precisely at all speeds and eliminated most problems with resonance. With easy-to-use-out-of-the-box drives and controllers, Compumotor was truly revolutionary. We had a great time presenting this new technology at seminars and applying this new product in a great variety of automation applications. Compumotor was acquired by Parker Hannifin Corporation which has continued to enhance and develop the products, as well as combine them with compatible technologies such as precision positioning systems and linear actuators.

Baxter is a new robot from Rethink Robotics that promises to be even more exciting and revolutionary than Compumotor. Baxter is the first commercially available robot that is designed to work side-by-side with humans. Baxter can be thought of and applied more as a “co-worker” than as a machine. It is not programed but, rather, can be “shown” what you want it to do, perhaps by a co-worker. By design it cannot hurt anyone and does not require a cage or other protection. At around $32,000 fully loaded with end effectors and extended warranty, it can be employed for under$4.50 per hour!

ONExia has two demonstration robots on order and will be scheduling seminars around our marketing area. Watch our website ( for information on a seminar near you.

Greg Selke
CEO ONExia Inc

Thursday, May 2, 2013

What is a “Collaborative Robot”?

This is an exciting new category of Robot. If you think back to the 1950’s when the term ‘robot’ was first created, robots were imagined as mechanical representations of humans. They looked like humans with a head, a torso, two arms, etc., and could perform human-like tasks. An example is ‘Rosie’, the robot maid on The Jetsons cartoon.

Our new product, the ‘Baxter’ robot from Rethink Robotics, is a collaborative robot that is designed to work side-by-side with humans, doing human-like tasks. The key to being collaborative is that the robot must be able to work safely with humans nearby. Baxter has three important levels of safety:
·         Passive Safety - Inherently safe mechanical design, with compliant joints, back-drivable motors, protective covers and no pinch points
·         Active Safety –
o   Each of the seven (7) joints in each of Baxter’s arms has active force sensing which will limit the force exerted and will detect obstructions
o   360° sonar-based detection of people and environment
·         External Safety – Ability to connect external Emergency Stop mechanisms such as push buttons and safety mats

Most industrial robots today have to work in cages, to protect workers. Because of its inherently safe operation, Baxter does not need a cage, making it even easier to move around and repurpose.

Greg Selke
CEO ONExia Inc

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Stepping Motors versus Servo Motors

In my view, stepping motors lead the revolution of the use of motion control for machine automation. Microstepping, which allowed stepping motors to be run smoothly and precisely, was developed by Hewlett Packard for use in computer printers. A start-up company in the early 1980’s named Compumotor brought this technology into the industrial market. Combined with simple to use controllers and “plug and play” connections, Compumotor’s stepping motors were used in thousands of applications that previously were either not possible, or required elaborate mechanisms for adjustment and coordination.

As microprocessors and power electronics progressed, the control of brushless servo motors also became commonplace. Today, brushless servo motors have over-taken stepping motors in a wide variety machine automation applications.

So, are stepping motors still a viable choice for automated machines? In short, the answer is, ‘Yes!’

Stepping motors provide very reliable operation, long life, and are inherently stable and precise. They are usually operated open loop (without position feedback) which works well in most applications since they do not require feedback for precise control and positioning. They are relatively simple devices.

If a selected stepping motor is rated for the speed and torque that an application requires and, if the inertia of the motor’s rotor is a good match to the reflected inertia of the mechanism it will drive (called the “inertia ratio”), then a stepping motor may be a very good and economical choice.

The Compumotor stepping motor products are still alive and well as a part of ParkerHannifin’s Automation Group, which also includes brushless servos and precision positioning systems.

Greg Selke
CEO ONExia Inc

Thursday, April 18, 2013

So, do robots – like ‘Baxter’ – take jobs away from people?

 It is a question that we are seeing more often in articles and on TV. A recent 60 Minutes (watch the story) segment gave the impression that robots might displace workers in almost any job requiring manual tasks, and then in increasingly more difficult tasks.

So, do robots take jobs away from people?
Rethink Robotics Baxter

The answer is both ‘Yes’ and ‘No’.

In the case of the robot ‘Baxter’ from Rethink Robotics the ‘Yes’ is primarily aimed at jobs overseas. With its low operating cost per hour, Baxter can compete favorably with overseas manufacturing labor rates. Rethink Robotics is very intentional in their desire to ‘reshore’ manufacturing back to the US, and to help keep existing manufacturing here.

The intent with Baxter is to offload the repetitive, menial, simple tasks to a robot, leaving humans to do jobs and tasks that require higher levels of thinking and skills. If we can lower the cost to perform the simple, routine tasks, the theory is that we will be able to afford to manufacture in the US, hiring more qualified workers, thereby increasing employment.

Greg Selke
CEO ONExia Inc

Thursday, April 11, 2013

What Makes An Automation Project Successful?

In a word: Collaboration

Our automation projects that go best are those where our customer considers us to be an extension of their engineering department. We have a great deal of expertise and experience in applying automation to a wide variety of applications. Our customers have expertise and experience with their particular products and processes. Bringing these different expertise and experiences together through effective collaboration brings the best results.

Greg Selke
CEO ONExia Inc

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Year Ahead

Taxes, recession, health insurance, disaster recovery…. 

What will 2013 look like?

This year promises to be a challenging one. While the general economic news seems to indicate some stability and slow growth in the economy, higher taxes and health care costs are likely to dampen progress.

Baxter on the packaging line 
With higher health care costs and increased regulations, employers are looking for ways to increase productivity without having to increase head count. Automating certain tasks can be an answer.

The new robot, ‘Baxter’, from ReThink Robotics is one way to automate mundane tasks such as carton filling and parts transfer. ReThink Robotics created Baxter with the goal of being able to compete favorably with overseas labor rates. In fact, Baxter can be applied for around $5.00 per hour, making it very competitive. Baxter is a ‘collaborative robot’ designed to work with and next to humans. It does not require a cage or guarding and can be shown what to do by a co-worker.

ONExia has many solutions and many years of experience applying automation methods to a wide variety of tasks.

ONExia belongs to three industry organizations; the Association of High Technology Distributors (AHTD) and the Control Systems Integrators Association (CSIA) and the Motion Control Association (MCA). Each of these organizations have annual or twice-annual conferences, presenting a variety of good speakers and workshops. All three organizations also utilize the services of an economics firm called ITR Economics. ITR has an incredible track record for predicting changes in the economy. They claim an accuracy of 94.7% over the past 60 years and, more recently, correctly forecast the financial crisis of 2007-2009.

Alan Beaulieu, President and Principal of ITR, is often the presenter at AHTD, CSIA and MCA events. For the past couple of years Alan has been predicting slow growth and recovery from the recession through the end of 2013, followed by a slowing economy. He further predicts that we will be in a mild recession during 2014, recovering during 2015.

We are planning, accordingly.

Greg Selke
CEO ONExia Inc