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OEMs Cutting Back on Robotic Assembly Lines

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Feb. 11, 2020—A downturn in manufacturing resulted in U.S. automakers scaling back on robotics used in assembly lines, according to Reuters.

A major goal of President Donald Trump has been to drive manufacturers to bring work back work to the United States, presumably aided by new automation and robotics that would allow domestic plants, including automotive factories, to compete with cheaper labor in China and other lower-cost countries.

But that trend appears to have been overwhelmed by a larger slowdown in manufacturing.

Hytrol Conveyor Co Inc, a privately held company in Jonesboro, Ark., that produces conveyor belts, for example, did not cut back on robot installations in 2019. With demand from e-commerce businesses and other warehouse operations booming, the company spent $1.9 million last year to help automate its assembly line. David Peacock, the company’s president, said in the report the company realized three years ago it would have trouble keeping up with demand growth without more robots.

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