We’ve seen him at Autodesk University, and now Baxter the robot is joining the production line of Haigh’s Chocolates in South Australia.focuz
The fourth-generation confectioners have become the first Australian buyer of Baxter, a robot that doesn’t need to be caged, and can work alongside and learn from staff on the factory floor.
Haigh’s Chocolates chief executive, Alister Haigh, was particularly impressed that Baxter doesn’t require a team of engineers on hand for programming; instead, anyone can teach it a new task.
He plans to use Baxter to free his skilled chocolatiers from having to do a lot of repetitive, menial tasks.
Haigh said that Baxter “provides a compelling alternative to off-shoring by enabling manufacturers to ramp up production more cost-effectively, protect intellectual property and create a more productive, satisfied workforce.”
Baxter will begin work at Haigh’s Adelaide factory after Easter, with his purchase and customisation costing just under $100,000.
The South Australian government helped defray those costs, because Haigh’s willingness to be a ‘guinea pig’ for Baxter will reduce the installation costs for other manufacturers in the state.
Manufacturing and Innovation Minister Kyam Maher said the project was recommended for funding based on the potential for Haigh’s to improve its manufacturing performance and expand its production capacity.
“The Baxter robot is a great example of innovation in action,” he said.
“Transforming our state’s economy will depend on the ability of manufacturers to adopt new technology which can help them develop high-value products and services, and meet growing global demand for South Australian products.
“Baxter has become a proven factory floor solution in the United States and Europe for a wide range of tasks, from line loading and machine tending to packaging and material handling.”
What makes Baxter different?
Baxter is a solution for manufacturers of all sizes. In addition to its uniquely low price point, Baxter offers six fundamental differences that distinguish it from traditional industrial robots.
Baxter is currently being programmed by SAGE Automation before it’s installed at Haigh’s Greenhill Road facility during March and April.
About a dozen of 100-odd manufacturing staff will be trained to teach Baxter tasks, which will include the transfer of one-kilogram chocolate blocks out of moulds and into a machine that breaks them up.
“Baxter is putting automation into the reach of all manufacturers, enabling them to achieve new efficiencies and remain competitive”, SAGE Automation chief executive Adrian Fahey says.
Image: SA Innovation Minister Kyam Maher, Alister Haigh, Baxter and SAGE’s Adrian Fahey.