Case Study: ICON Injection Molding Embraces Accessible Path to Automation

Case Study: ICON Injection Molding Embraces Accessible Path to Automation
Case Study: ICON Injection Molding Embraces Accessible Path to Automation

ICON Injection Molding, a family-owned business that produces custom plastic parts for clients in the medical device and defense sectors, identified a critical need to embrace automation. The Arizona-based company’s primary motivation was to enhance employee safety by reducing exposure to dangerous and repetitive tasks that can lead to injuries, staff turnover, operational inefficiencies and ultimately, higher prices and longer lead times for end customers. However, the barriers of high upfront capital investment, associated risks and the lack of in-house expertise posed significant challenges to onboarding the much-needed automation.

Formic’s innovative Robotic-as-a-Service (RaaS) offering proved to be the perfect solution for ICON. RaaS offers a zero-risk approach, providing businesses with efficient, on-demand access to automation solutions at a low hourly rate, with uptime commitments and no upfront or maintenance costs. The company’s unique Pay-for-Productivity model eliminates the financial burden and mitigates risk, making automation accessible to ICON and businesses of all sizes.

Upon deploying Formic’s Tend solution, ICON experienced an impressive array of benefits, including:

  • 40% Decrease in Operating Expenses: Automation significantly optimized processes, leading to reduced operating expenses and enhanced cost-efficiency.
  • 30% Faster Production Cycle Times: By leveraging the power of robotics, production cycle times were drastically reduced, boosting overall productivity.
  • Increased Production Time: Automation allowed for continuous production runs, maximizing output without compromising on quality.
  • Reduced Injuries to Workers: By automating hazardous tasks, Formic’s solution contributed to a safer work environment for ICON’s employees.
  • Increased Internal Promotions: Empowered by automation, employees were able to focus on more complex and rewarding tasks, leading to increased internal promotions and career growth opportunities.

Speaking about the success of the partnership, Nicole Kleitsch-Killam, chief administrative officer of ICON Injection Molding, explained, “From our experience, this is enhancing productivity and increasing safety for employees. Generally, there is a barrier to entry for automation because high upfront capital makes it expensive. Automation is not something you can go and buy off-the-shelf, so you have to get a custom solution. As a custom injection molder, we are running different jobs in our presses every day. There are lots of automation companies out there that lock you into something. Formic has given us complete flexibility without locking us into anything–it’s a really symbiotic relationship for both parties.”

Formic’s Pay-for-Productivity RaaS model stands out for its comprehensive approach, providing full-functioning robotic solutions from leading vendors such as FANUC, Universal Robots and Yaskawa Motoman. Customers pay for robot usage on an hourly basis, while Formic takes care of robot programming, installation and maintenance at its own cost. Notably, customers are only billed once the system is deployed and fully operational on their premises. Additionally, Formic bears the engineering and maintenance costs for repairs and does not charge hourly fees during any downtime.

Misa Ikhechi, Formic’s co-founder and VP of Product and Partnerships, highlighted the company’s customer-centric philosophy, stating, “Our holistic approach and Pay-for-Productivity model make cutting-edge automation accessible and simple to SMBs. We always put our customer’s best interests first, which means we are technology agnostic. There are other companies offering RaaS services, but they have a single tool and they try to solve every problem with that tool. At Formic, the best solution wins, no matter who makes it.”

Formic’s collaboration with ICON Injection Molding sets a remarkable precedent for the future of American manufacturing. By breaking down barriers and offering a risk-free path to automation, Formic is leading the charge in accelerating the adoption of transformative technologies. As more businesses like ICON embrace automation, the manufacturing landscape in the United States is poised for a revolutionary shift towards increased efficiency, safety and competitiveness in the global market.

About The Author

Malcolm Kerr is head of Marketing at Formic.

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