Moduform robot from Rethink Robotics fills labor gap
March 16, 2018 | 9:04 am CDT

FITCHBURG, Mass. -- Moduform, a furniture manufacturer for colleges, libraries, healthcare, military bases, detention and public safety spaces, has deployed Rethink Robotics' Sawyer robot at its Fitchburg manufacturing location. Faced with a shortage of workers, Moduform deployed Sawyer to fill that gap while helping to improve innovation, create better jobs for existing employees and meet market demands in the furniture manufacturing industry.

"In the furniture business, many of the production jobs can be monotonous or temporary due to the seasonality of customer demand. Because of this, we can struggle with employee turnover and finding workers who are willing to simply pick up and put down parts all day long," said Josh Weissman, CEO at Moduform. "With (the) Sawyer (robot), we don't have to worry about finding people to complete these tasks. We can focus on recruiting workers for advanced work, such as cognitive jobs that leverage technology on the factory floor, and offer career advancement opportunities."

With a diverse customer base, Moduform needs a flexible and durable workforce that can ramp up on orders quickly and meet seasonal market demands. Since deploying Sawyer, Moduform has been able to consistently adapt to and meet customer's needs by running longer operations and producing parts quicker.

Sawyer is currently being used in the work cell to help assemble drawers. Sawyer's versatility allows the robot to be used on various tasks to build the drawer, including picking up parts from the pick pallet, pushing them into place, sliding them into a dovetail machine, turning on the machine, retracting the piece and repeating the process until the drawer is complete. Sawyer ensures each piece is aligned correctly and is the correct dimensions. Moduform's manufacturing engineer is quickly able to deploy Sawyer on different tasks based on what application Sawyer would be most helpful for on any given day. 

"Automation and robotics are changing our business,” said Weissman. “Like every company, we're constantly faced with the need to increase our efficiencies while closely managing our spending. If we can continually improve our processes, we can create better products. Sawyer gives us the ability to deliver orders without excessive downtime, as well as allocate more resources to being more innovative and creative on the factory floor, which ultimately moves our business forward."  

Moduform was founded in 1976, and the company buys parts and services locally while selling finished product internationally. With locations in Massachusetts and North Carolina, Moduform has a progressive outlook in terms of robotics and automation.

Rethink Robotics robots are able to automate the 90 percent of tasks that have been beyond the reach of traditional automation. Its Baxter and Sawyer robots, powered by the Intera software platform, can change applications quickly and perform tasks like people do. Based in Boston, the Rethink product suite is available in Asia, Europe and North America. See

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Karl Forth

Karl D. Forth is online editor for CCI Media. He also writes news and feature stories in FDMC Magazine, in addition to newsletters and custom publishing projects. He is also involved in event organization, and compiles the annual FDM 300 list of industry leaders. He can be reached at [email protected]