Elkhart companies look at robots to fill manufacturing workforce

Published: Jun. 26, 2018 at 4:35 PM EDT
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In Elkhart County, and especially in the RV industry, there's a lot of vacant jobs that need filled. That's a problem that robots can come in to help.

"What we're looking to help do is eliminate some of the dull boring tasks that people don't want to come to work and do every day," Universal Robots Sales Development Manager Andrew Jones said.

By giving the robot the menial job of placing a single part, or moving one thing after another, focus can come off the labor shortage and into things that deserve thought and time. And now is the time to push robots to mid level factories because they're getting cheaper and cheaper.

"Roughly 25 to 45 thousand dollars depending on the business and the size of the bot," Jones said.

"And that's basically just one year of pay for a normal employee?" I asked.

"Exactly," Jones said. "A lot of times, less than that. A lot of times you find the return on investment can be 6-8 months."

Now, I know what it sounds like. But a mechanical arm is not going to steal up all of the manufacturing jobs.

"They're actually bringing jobs back to the United States," Allied Automation's Matt Gonso said. "We've been in conversations with a lot of companies that they do have operations in China or Mexico and that this robot is allowing them to reconsider."

The other deterrent for most companies on robotics is the complexity. But Universal robots says that's not a problem anymore. it's as easy to operate the robots as it is to use a smartphone and they don't require any maintenance

"Ultimately, we're taking a robotic solution that historically would be drastically complex and we're making it a very simple easy to implement solution," Jones said.

To learn how to program and operate one of these robots, Universal Robots has an online course you can easily complete on their site at

Or to purchase one for your own facility, you can find the information at