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Automation in our SD Manufacturing Facilities

South Dakota Manufacturing & Technology Solutions has been charged with identifying the needs of SD Manufacturer’s in regard to collaborative robots (cobots) and automation. Part of our task is to understand what automation companies currently use and assess what SD manufacturer’s in general might need in the future.  MTS wants to assist South Dakota manufactures’ in being early adopters of new technologies as opposed to followers.  Many of these new technologies are low cost in comparison to historical technologies.  Our main focus is in assisting our South Dakota manufacturers in addressing the workforce shortage in the state and mitigating the risk in acquiring new technologies. .

Automation Lab

We are helping our South Dakota manufactures get on the leading edge of automation utilization in their plants while mitigating risk. South Dakota Manufacturing & Technology Solutions (MTS) created an automation lab in our Sioux Falls location in late 2015. This lab allows manufacturers to see first hand how collaborative robots interact with people while providing a beta test for their specific application.

collaborative robots

Our lab currently houses:

  • one-armed Sayer cobot, Rethink Robotics
  • two-armed Baxter cobot, Rethink Robotics
  • various vision applications
  • demonstration lab

NEW UPDATE TO SAWYER!  Even more capabilitiesthan before! Software (Intra 5) recently released by Rethink Robotics for the one-armed cobot, Sawyer provides: enhanced programming capabilities, integration into work cells with other automation, vision to inspect parts and vision to pick parts from a random stack (static and dynamic), adjustable force sensing, easy decision making –if this do that, if not do the other thing.

Cobots on the go

Looking at investing in automation? Are you looking for a way to reduce the risk of determining applications? Or do you want to test a cobot in your manufacturing environment? Our team can help determine if automation is right for your facility and application. Whether you stop down to our Automation Lab for a mini tour or want more extensive research and trials with a test on-site in your facility MTS can help. Please contact your nearest Business Advisor or Keith Deibert at

What is a Cobot?

Collaborative robots, or “cobots” are robots that work collaboratively with humans. Unlike traditional industrial robots that required light curtains and cages, these cobots can work side-by-side with their human team mate.

5 key differences

  1. SAFETY -
    Collaborative Robots are designed to work alongside their human colleagues and are equipped with features allowing seamless collaboration. The Baxter and Sawyer robots by Rethink Robotics are equipped with detection sensors, enabling them to know where its operators are at any moment. Baxter and Sawyer are also programmed to immediately stop its work if it represents any danger whatsoever for a person, equipment or fixturing nearby. This does away with the need for setting up secure enclosures, since the cobot’s security features are designed in such a way that it can operate amongst humans.
    Collaborative robots are very easy to program. Whereas traditional industrial robots require advanced computer programming skills, collaborative robots are capable of learning.
    Cobots are more economical. Collaborative robots no longer need to be confined to a single task. They can be integrated into numerous projects, can be easily reprogrammed, moved and redeployed at different stages in the production chain making them much more profitable. Doing away with external safety barriers needed with typical industrial robot applications also saves money.
    Cobots are Robots that work in partnership with humans. A “cobot” acts as an assistant, and is involved in targeted complex, sensitive tasks that can’t be automated. It is also capable of learning. Cobots are now capable of picking up an object and giving it to a human, in a cooperative environment very different to that of the more traditional robots.
    Collaborative robots are tasked with carrying out tough (safe handling of hot or awkward workpieces) or very low value-added jobs. Human intelligence is refocused on other aspects of the production chain. This allows technicians to focus their attention on their core business and create more value added.


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