Formic, accelerating the adoption of automation across American manufacturing, empowered Compact Industries, Inc. – a mid-sized food and beverage packaging specialist founded in 1963 – by designing and deploying the company’s first robotic system, a collaborative palletizer that was loading pallets within a few hours of delivery.
"We were driven towards robotics to maintain a high level of quality and consistency for our products, but very low labor retention has been absolutely the biggest challenge," said Tracey Miller, Compact’s Senior Vice President.
Like many U.S. packaging companies today, Chicago-based Compact Industries has been growing quickly but amid the challenges of a shrinking labor pool, high worker turnover, and supply and wage inflation, the family business was struggling to meet the increasing demands of the Fortune 500 companies it serves. Their managing team recognized the need to automate, but was cautious following a negative experience buying and managing automation on their own.
“What attracted me to Formic was the low risk,” said Rich Moldovan, Compact’s Engineering Manager. “With big decisions like this, you're putting your reputation on the line, but I felt very confident with Formic. The whole process was so seamless, and this quality of service didn’t happen when we tried to automate on our own.”
Moldovan continued, “We have some associates who are placing boxes on pallets for an entire 10-hour shift and we don’t want them straining or getting injured. Our employees are a key part of our success. And what’s great about robots is they don’t quit or get injured.”
Formic’s unparalleled RaaS solution delivers full-functioning, customized robotic solutions from leading robotic vendors such as FANUC, Universal Robots, and Yaskawa Motoman to customers who pay by the hour for usage. Formic owns, programs, installs, and maintains the robots at its own cost and operates a unique model in which customers do not pay until the system is deployed and fully operational on a customer’s floor. Additionally, once new systems are activated, Formic covers all the engineering and costs for repair and maintenance and does not charge hourly fees during any downtime.
After evaluating Compact’s needs, requirements, and constraints, Formic partnered with SourceLink Solutions to design and deploy a fully-integrated mobile palletizing system that includes a Yaskawa collaborative robot. Replacing one worker per shift, Compact pays $15/hour for its Formic system, as compared to the labor rate of $21/hour. The system decreases Compacts’ reliance on temporary labor and their need to constantly retrain workers, while also promoting their staff to more ergonomic tasks.
Within one month of deploying the first system, Compact ordered a second system, unlocking new scalable potential that was impossible with traditional capital budgets and resources.
“Robotics is extremely fragmented, which means there’s no clear supply chain for hardware and machine builders are often reinventing the wheel,” said Formic’s Co-founder and VP of Solutions and Partnerships, Misa Ilkhechi. “In building a fleet of rental robots, Formic is also building this massive library of automation solutions that can do everyday tasks, so we don't have to reinvent the wheel every time. We’re also resolving the supply chain issue and lowering costs by creating a platform where we purchase hardware in bulk.”
Founded in 2020, Formic is accelerating the adoption of automation across small to mid-sized U.S. manufacturers and boosting productivity by removing the risk, complexity, upfront capital, and expertise that typically exist as barriers to onboarding this technology. The company’s “Robotics-as-a-Service” model delivers customized robots at a low hourly rate, with guaranteed uptime. With a full-service offering that includes everything from planning and deployment to maintenance and upgrades, Formic is creating an innovative and accessible competitive advantage for small and mid-sized factories to ensure they stay relevant and thrive in any economy. Go to formic.co for more information.