Standby Screw in Berea, Ohio manufactures specialized screws for all kinds of industries. They started out making bomb tips for the US government during World War 2. With 400 employees and factories in Ohio and China, Standby Screw has been successfully competing in the cut-throat manufacturing sector for over 75 years.
Two years ago, Standby Screw bought a robot named Baxter.
Baxter has shiny, red arms and an ipad looking face with two eyes. Baxter wears a white apron and is gentle enough to safely work among humans. Baxter’s job is to wash and pack the screws for shipping. It did the job so well that the company bought a Baxter # 2 a year later. And they have plans to add more robots.
It used to cost companies hundreds of thousands of dollars and weeks of programming to get robots to work. But costs have decreased. Standby Screw bought each robot for $30,000 and was able to get it trained in a few days. According to the Robotic Industries Association, the number of robots shipped in North America has doubled from 18,200 in 2005 to 34,600 in 2016.
While it’s good news for the robot makers and manufacturers, it’s bad news for the displaced workers.
Some of these displaced workers will take the entrepreneurial path and become e-commerce retailers. Which means competition will continue to grow. But with e-commerce still only 8.3% of overall retail sales in the US, there are tremendous opportunities for all.
A lot of these opportunities will pour to retailers who continue to build their brand, provide great service and grow customer loyalty. These retailers will out-compete even the likes of Amazon.
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