Advanced technology in robotics has stirred a sense of uneasiness in the workforce. While robots eliminate some jobs, it has also prolonged careers.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Toward the rear of QFM Stamping Inc.’s plant in Salem, a brightly painted yellow robotic arm zips back and forth, stopping at programmed intervals to weld portions of a component used in the rail car industry. The bed that holds the part lifts and turns as the automated arm adjusts and prepares for its next targeted weld.

“We can program it to weld just about anything we need to, as long as we have the fixtures for it,” says production manager Mike Vacha. “This is welding all the internal parts on housings for a rail car system.”

QFM bought the new robot about a year and a half ago – an investment that Vacha says helps with production efficiencies and costs: “With this robot, every weld is consistent and produces a higher quality part.”

It used to be that three welders were needed on this particular job, Vacha says. However, automation enabled QFM to reduce manpower to just one operator. The two other employees were reassigned other duties in the shop. “They’re assets to this company, and they’re simply doing other jobs,” he says.


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