On November 15, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, will be engulfed by waves of innovation. The metropolitan area of Dallas has added thousands of manufacturing jobs in 2023, and yet the region’s vacancies still outpace its applicants. “Historically low labor participation rates in our area means manufacturers are often unable to staff their shifts,” says Nick Armenta, regional manager of Olympus Controls, an engineering services company that specializes in the integration of motion control, machine vision and robotic technologies. In Texas, there is currently 0.8 unemployed persons per job opening, a gap that is especially pronounced in manufacturing, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The national rate is 0.7.
Olympus Controls will host Waves of Innovation, a unique annual event featuring live demonstrations of automation and robotics presented by industry veterans eager to discuss attendees’ manufacturing challenges.
More than 20 automation companies will showcase a wide range of automation—from collaborative robots (cobots) handling grueling sanding and polishing tasks to vision-guided robotic arms picking up items using deep-learning algorithms—along with applications for automated machine loading and laser marking.
Waves of Innovation will take place 3-7 pm in the Choctaw Club, Silver Room North, at AT&T Stadium. Registration is free.
“Knowing what’s out there makes our automation journey easier,” says Scott Paulk, engineering manager with Alexandria Industries in Carrollton, Texas, emphasizing that his company already has 40% of its work centers robotically automated. “We sometimes struggle with hiring skilled labor, automation helps offset this by enabling us to reallocate resources. Another benefit of robots is they get the younger generation intrigued; this has no doubt led to employees selecting our companies over a potential competitor.”
Aircraft Tooling, a Dallas-based repair center for the aviation industry that plans to attend the event, was surprised to discover that cobots could withstand high temperatures and harsh environments while performing plasma spray processes, which has freed its employees from the task.
There was significant doubt and hesitation at Aircraft Tooling as to whether the cobot would operate reliably in the spray booth’s extremely hot and dusty environment, explains Juan Puente, thermal spray supervisor at Aircraft Tooling. “We were very surprised. I thought the robot wouldn’t stand it,” he says.
Waves of Innovation is an opportunity to surprise more manufacturers, notes Armenta. “Unlike most of the American economy, manufacturing requires your physical presence,” he says. “Knowing the local talent and resources close to you will radically enhance your capabilities. By bringing Waves of Innovation to Dallas, we are illuminating both the developing and established talent we already have here in Texas.”
Waves of Innovation exhibitors include Apex Dynamics, Asyril, Cobot Depot, Copley Controls, Datalogic, Dorner Conveyors, Epson Robots, Flexxbotics, Kane Robotics, Mecademic, National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA), Nidec, Olympus Controls, Panasonic, Robotiq, Robotunits, Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center (TMAC), Spira Vision, University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) and Zebra Robotics. Universal Robots and Mitsubishi Electric are Platinum sponsors of the event.