Implementing Cobots for Cutting-Edge Automation with Elias Serruya

Episode 192 | Challenges: Workforce Technology

Are cobots the future of your manufacturing business? Collaborative robots can share the same space with your employees and help you automate the processes and systems that keep tying up your team’s time and energy. Guest speaker, Elias Serruya shares his passion for innovative thinking and why a future of cobots may just be your manufacturing dream-come-true. 

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Pursuing a passion for innovation while learning the tricks of the trade

Elias shares his story of pursuing the future in innovation and automation while climbing the ladder at his father-in-law’s manufacturing company, EJ Basler. Beginning as an engineering intern, he quickly learned the ins and outs of the trade and made note of where processes could be made more efficient. Always asking the question, “How could this be made better?” Elias found his passion realized in building and implementing cobots and robots. 


Elias explains that the automation offered by robotics and cobotics is mechatronics - the combination of mechanical and electronic systems. Mechatronic automation covers all the bases for a machine shop by combining software, mechanics, mathematics, chemistry, the cloud, and electronics for a truly all-encompassing automated system. As manufacturing leaders understand, time is money - and the more time their employees can spend on the tasks that require their expertise and less on the menial busywork - the better. 



Saving time, money, and space with cobot automation 

Elias unpacks the differences between robots and cobots and why cobots are a financially savvy investment for your manufacturing business. Unlike robots, cobots don’t need their own designated space with safety lines and regulations. Cobots (collaborative robots) share the same workspace as your employees and interact directly in your employees’ environment. Because they don’t need their own floor or taped-off space, and because they can’t hurt humans in their operations, there is no need to spend money and resources on building a separate and safety-ensured space on your shop floor. Cobots are slower in their movements and don’t have the huge amount of velocity behind them that regular, mechanical robots possess. If you touch a cobot outside of the designated process, they turn off. They are built to work with you - not overpower you.



Applying cobots to both low and high production manufacturing businesses

Are cobots for everybody? Elias explains that while the role of the cobots might change, they are useful in both low and high-production manufacturing businesses. A good strategy for both types would be to locate where you need to automate within the business. Where is time being wasted or being used inefficiently? What jobs - if freed up - could make room for greater growth and progress? Inspection and processing parts could be done by a cobot instead of your employees, allowing them to focus on work that requires their skill and expertise. 

Elias shares the processes he uses to know where to implement automation within EJ Basler. Watching company costs is an extremely helpful way to see where your manufacturing team could benefit from the help of cobots. Taking a walk through your shop floor can also provide insight into identifying where processes could be made more efficient. If you are struggling with finding good hires, then using a cobot to make up the difference will save your team countless hours and headaches.


Training your cobot to serve you so that you can serve your client-base 

Cobots are trained by recording points in space - through logging specific conditions that build the logic of a certain job. Once all the steps have been taught to the cobot, it can carry out its task. For jobs that require unique grippers or handling parts, new grippers and tools can be 3D printed or made for the cobot. Even though cobots are serving in the role of automation, their workflow is in the hands of you and your team. Not comfortable with just one master controller? Use several for each part of the process so that you can have the flexibility of updating and controlling just one aspect of the job at hand. 


Elias explains that automation is not only useful to your team - it’s attractive to your clients. When customers see that you are trying to keep up with the times, be progressive, and constantly improve, they will be more trusting and impressed by your diligence to keep on the cutting edge of manufacturing technology. The robotics industry is only growing, and those that want to keep up in the Metal Working Nation need to be thinking about how they can be progressive. Be sure to listen to the entire episode for examples of how Elias has used cobotics at EJ Basler and why cobots might need to be the next big step for your business. 


Have questions about automation and cobots? Reach out to Jason and Jim at : and


Here’s The Good Stuff!

  • What the inevitable robot takeover and “I Love Lucy” have in common. 
  • Using cobots helps eliminate the busywork that keeps your employees tied up. 
  • Guest speaker: Elias Serruya, quality and process engineer at EJ Basler. 
  • Turning dreams into reality with robotic and cobotic innovation. 
  • Saving time, space, and money with cobots. 
  • The role of cobots in both high and low production manufacturing businesses.
  • Teaching cobots to perform for your needs. 
  • Tracking the costs and workflow of your shop for cobot implementation. 
  • Using multiple control stations to help streamline your cobot. 
  • The attractiveness of automation to the next generation of customers and co-workers. 


Tools & Takeaways

  • Xometry
  • Text “CHIPS” to 38470 to subscribe to MakingChips! 
  • FSBS: For Shops By Shops (ProShop ERP)


This Week’s Superstar Guest: Elias Serruya


Connect With MakingChips

Subscribe to Making Chips on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, or Spotify

Jason Zenger: Jim, don't you have online chat for car machine and tool?

Jim Carr: As a matter of fact we do, and John just mentioned to me the other day that somebody was chatting with him online and I'm like great, that's all millennials want to do right?

Jason Zenger: Yeah, and that's why Xometry has it as well.

Jim Carr: I know, it's fantastic. You can just go right to the thing, if you have a question just go right to the chat box, type in your question and they can answer it for you right away.

Jason Zenger: Yeah, there's a little box that says help with a bubble. Type your questions in there and away you go. Go to,

Jason Zenger: Welcome to MakingChips. We believe that manufacturing is challenging, but if you are connected to a community of leaders, you can elevate your skills, solve your problems, and grow your business. I'm your host Jason Zenger and I'm joined by my co-host, Jim Carr. How you doing Jim?

Jim Carr: Hey. I'm doing well.

Jason Zenger: Great.

Jim Carr: On a, what is it? Thursday afternoon.

Jason Zenger: Yes.

Jim Carr: Out at Zenger's Industrial Supply.

Jason Zenger: Yes, we're recording in my office.

Jim Carr: Yeah, it feels good. I didn't have to drive into the city today.

Jason Zenger: You like my office? I got the whiteboard, I got the weight set so I can do some bench pressing -

Jim Carr: Yeah, it's okay.

Jason Zenger: ... And some curls.

Jim Carr: It's not my brand but that's okay. I'm comfortable here, you know what I mean? It's comfortable, the chair is good, you've got free wifi and you just got me a Pelligrino and I'm smiling.

Jason Zenger: You're very spoiled. Normal water for you. You need to have a fancy Pelligrino.

Jim Carr: Yeah, oh it had the lemon zest in it too so it was pretty good as a matter of fact, but thank you. I appreciate that. So your hospitality is awesome. So thank you for that but again -

Jason Zenger: I'm going to challenge you to some weight lifting after this episode.

Jim Carr: Well, I don't know, you know I've been exercising for a long time and -

Jason Zenger: Bring it Jim Carr.

Jim Carr: I can do it. You want to do some push-ups?

Jason Zenger: All right let's pause for a minute, [inaudible 00:01:51] we're going to do some ... No, just kidding. So Jim, question for you, have you seen that movie with Will Smith? I forgot what it's called. I, Robot or is that a different movie?

Jim Carr: No, that is Will Smith.

Jason Zenger: Yeah, I don't know, whatever one's where -

Jim Carr: That's an old one.

Jason Zenger: Or no, no, it's the one where, I don't know, anyway, there's this movie where -

Jim Carr: He was part robot, yes.

Jason Zenger: Yeah, where the robots take over. Are you ready for when that happens? When they're going to come out to replace you? When they no longer need you to quote jobs.

Jim Carr: Honestly, I have to admit, that I do have a lot of years behind me, and it is quite crazy to think about the changes in our society, the changes in our culture, the new laws that are being implemented. I would never have believed if you would have asked me 40 years ago there'd be all these changes and culture, so when I think about robotic technology and robots running the world -

Jason Zenger: 3CPO.

Jim Carr: Something like that. The Jetsons, I think man, I could see that potentially in my life time.

Jason Zenger: When you were a kid, was it the Jetsons?

Jim Carr: It was the Jetsons. Yeah, Judy and George Jetson. Yeah, that's what it was about. Microwave ovens and everything else. I know, our guest is shaking his head saying what is he talking about, but that's okay.

Jason Zenger: We'll get to that in a little bit.

Jim Carr: I'm sure the manufacturing leaders that are listening know exactly what I'm talking about, and if you do, send me an email and say yes Jim, I know what the Jetsons are.

Jason Zenger: So today, we're going to talk to our special guest, who we're going to introduce shortly, about his first experience implementing robots into their operations, or another term that I've heard before, cobots. But they're different than robots, because we're going to talk about what that's all about today.

Jim Carr: Interested to hear this.

Jason Zenger: So they're not new to robotics, but it is their first robot and I think it's not going to be their last robot.

Jim Carr: Well I hope we're going to define what the differences are.

Jason Zenger: We are, we will talk about that, but we sold them actually their robot and they are putting that into place simply for that other term that we talk about all the time. The skills gap that needs to be solved right? We need to solve the skill gap and robots are a part of that.

Jim Carr: It certainly is.

Jason Zenger: Before we get there, what are you challenged with right now Jim?

Jim Carr: What am I challenged with this week?

Jason Zenger: Yes.

Jim Carr: This week, huh.

Jason Zenger: What is keeping you awake at night.

Jim Carr: Yeah, so it's been deliveries, and it's been these new customers are challenging us to procure material, heat treating, machine the parts and then have them finished via Electroless nickel, black anodized, com processing, any of those in crazy, crazy amounts of time, and that's been very challenging. We're doing a lot of work for the Aerospace and Aviation Department of Defense so there's a lot of regulations and certifications that we have to put into place and approvals to utilize any of these special finishing companies, so it's been a challenge, it's been a challenge, so this morning, I was working on finding an approved process vendor for a job that's going to be coming out of our machines next week, and they have to turn around this finish in a very short amount of time.

Jason Zenger: Yeah, over the last couple years, a lot of your pain, a lot of your crying has been centered around coatings and things.

Jim Carr: Oh, you're absolutely right, it certainly has been, but we made some great leaps and bounds over the last few years, and we've learned a lot about it. That's what's keeping me awake at night, and it's not bad, I'm not complaining, but when I wake up at 3 am, and I can't sleep, that's probably the thing that's on my mind the most. How about you?

Jason Zenger: I would say that what's keeping me up at night is I just had an all day meeting yesterday with our owner, it's like an ownership visionary leadership meeting and we're going to go through some very, very, I'm excited about it, some very, very positive re-structuring in the company and I'm really, really excited about it, and I think it's going to be good. Might be a little bit painful in the very beginning, but I think it's going to be a really, really good thing for the company overall so -

Jim Carr: Change is not fun.

Jason Zenger: No.

Jim Carr: But it's -

Jason Zenger: We need to ratchet up the high performance is what it comes down to and we need to do it. It's going to happen.

Jim Carr: You have to do it.

Jason Zenger: You have to it.

Jim Carr: You have to do it.

Jason Zenger: Exactly.

Jim Carr: Anytime that I've ever had major change in my career, I've always dreaded ... What do they call it in EOS, the 36 hours of pain, so once you decide that you have to make that decision, you go through 36 hours of pain where you're actually feeling it. There's a hardship, but after that 36 hours has passed, all of a sudden it starts getting a lot better and I guarantee that in just a matter of weeks or months, you're going to reap the rewards of that.

Jason Zenger: Essentially, if I were to make an analogy, we're a service company, and -

Jim Carr: You are. More than I am.

Jason Zenger: ... yeah, yeah, a sales and service company and so what we're going to do, is we're going to move kind of like as if it was cellular manufacturing I guess could be an analogy, where instead of having a operations department that's doing fulfillment and a outside sales that's doing sales, and a customer service department, we're going to put together customer-centric little cells of a team, a small team of sales, service and support and fulfillment, and those are going to be focusing on just delivering the highest customer experience and being as productive as possible for that particular customer segment for that group of customers.

Jim Carr: Good stuff.

Jason Zenger: So it's going to be a change. So it'll be good though. Tell us about the boring bar. We don't have Caleb or Nick here to tell us about the boring bar so why don't you tell the metal working nation about the boring bar.

Jim Carr: Have you ever been in the boring bar before? Do you know what it looks like?

Jason Zenger: I know what it's going to look like. I haven't been there yet.

Jim Carr: I know but, you know what's kind of funny, I had to explain this to my lunch guests today, because they asked the same thing.

Jason Zenger: What the boring bar was?

Jim Carr: What is the boring bar, and the boring bar is typically, it was birthed out of an avatar of manufacturers that go into a bar at the end of their shift -

Jason Zenger: After a hard day of work.

Jim Carr: I would like to classify it as a tavern, and that's what I visualize when I think of the boring bar, and they're all there talking about the boring things that are going on in manufacturing, about how they use their boring bar to do that precision bore that day -

Jason Zenger: Like they got a new grade on an insert and it's just performing that much better and most people would look at them and be like what are you talking about?

Jim Carr: Right, because anybody outside of our industry, when we start talking our industry among each other, -

Jason Zenger: It's interesting.

Jim Carr: ... It's interesting to us, but it's certainly boring to everybody else.

Jason Zenger: To like your wife or something.

Jim Carr: Oh my God, my wife has no idea, and she instantly becomes bored and closes her ears. The boring bar to us right now, is our weekly newsletter where we curate all this content of the week, it's our podcast, it's our curated news article.

Jason Zenger: Original articles.

Jim Carr: It's our chip in contribution from our friends and peers. That's what it is, and it's going to be branded, we're working on having an icon for it. It's probably going to be pretty cool, and ultimately, our headquarters in Rockford that we're going through right now and designing, we're going to actually have a real bar with two tappers and probably some whiskey that if you want to do a shot of whiskey, I don't drink whiskey but I'll certainly indulge on the craft beer.

Jason Zenger: And if it's really successful, maybe we can franchise the concept of having an actual boring bar and open up real bars in restaurants in the future. You just never know. Do you Jim Carr?

Jim Carr: I'm a professional bartender you know.

Jason Zenger: Well then you'll work there.

Jim Carr: Did you know that? When I was in my 20s I was a bartender.

Jason Zenger: Then you'll be the one to work behind the bar.

Jim Carr: I'll work the bar man. I do accept tips.

Jason Zenger: I'm not going to tip you.

Jim Carr: Just so you know. Anyway, tell us about some manufacturing news this week.

Jason Zenger: Yeah, I do have some manufacturing news. So this is also makes sense for the episode that we have today, but the title of the article is The Great Robot Takeover: Fact or Fiction. So this article is from Industry Week. The subtitle is, it's inevitable, the robot invasion is coming, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The article starts out, it's kind of interesting, and you might not be a I Love Lucy fan, but -

Jim Carr: Yeah I know the show.

Jason Zenger: ... You know what it is so the one thing, one of the reasons that I was able to endear my wife, is that she was a huge I Love Lucy fan, and I remember one of the first couple dates we had, she made me watch I Love Lucy for a couple of hours and I think she figured that if I was able to endure that with her, that I was a keeper, so I watched a lot of I Love Lucy over the years so I don't know, for some reason my wife just loves it.

Jim Carr: In black and white?

Jason Zenger: Yeah, and then my daughter loves I Love Lucy now or at least she used to watch it, but anyway, so there was an episode of I Love Lucy that was very similar to a problem that happened at General Motors in 1970, so I don't know if you remember this I Love Lucy plant, but Lucy and Ethel were in a chocolate factory and remember the -

Jim Carr: It's a classic.

Jason Zenger: It's a classic, it's one of the top ones and the chocolate was moving too fast, and they were trying to shove it down their mouths and basically the robots were beating the humans is essentially the tag line.

Jim Carr: It was funny.

Jason Zenger: Yeah, so what happened in the General Motor's situation in 1970, is that same thing, quality suffered, because the robots were moving too fast, a control box was set on fire, seats and wiring were slashed, and the workers at GM went on strike for 22 days and it cost GM a hundred and fifty million dollars because the robot was too ahead of its time apparently. So yeah, it's kind of interesting, and what this article said is nearly 50 years later, the manufacturing industry is facing a similar battle with a new breed of robots on the market and more sophisticated automation solutions arriving every day, many workers once again feel like they're on the front lines of a full scale robot takeover. Do you think it's a takeover?

Jim Carr: No, I don't think it's a takeover.

Jason Zenger: I don't think it is either. Sometimes these articles are dramatized.

Jim Carr: Yeah, yeah, but that's okay. It's somebody's perspective, but I think it's just like, you know what I see in my shop, is just not only C and C technology, but I see CAN technology is really the leader lately because what I used to do in the mid 80s and early 90s when I was on the shop floor running C and C machines is I was using G and M code programming, GOX1inchY-2inchesZO, initial plane G81, G90, blah, blah, blah. We weren't utilizing CAN technology like we are today. I would say 80% of the jobs that we run in our ... No 95% of the jobs that we run in our shop now is that tool path is generated and master -

Jason Zenger: And you don't even have to touch it.

Jim Carr: Yeah, you just create the tool path, it converts that tool path into a G and M code program and then it post processes it into what machine tool that it's going to be run in, and that happens so fast Jason, so what I see is just the technology movement moving forward at a capacity that's appropriate for the manufacturer. So if you're running production, you're doing a lot of arduous, cumbersome, labor-intensive work, maybe a robot or a cobot would be the ideal new technology to implement into your business, whereas in our shop, it may not be there yet, and I look forward to -

Jason Zenger: We've talked about it a little bit.

Jim Carr: I look forward to what our guest has to say, because I've got lots of questions for him, but most importantly, I think it's just taking technology and really amping it up. Whether it's robotic technology or CAN technology or C and C technology or tooling technology, it's all the same thing and it's great. It's helping our lives hopefully be a little bit easier to get through so yeah.

Jason Zenger: So going back to this article, these are some interesting numbers to think about. Universal robots, which is the brand that we sell, was one of the first collab robots back in 2008, and they're currently the market leader and the company has grown in size 500% since 2015. 500% since 2015. So to put in perspective, they sold 6300 units between 2012 and 2015 and now they're at 30,000. So their sales have grown exponentially and right now, cobots, which we're going to talk about today, were only three percent of robot sales but it's supposed to get up to 34% over the next seven years or one-third of the marketplace, so clearly your standard robotics which are not collaborative are the leader in volume, but cobots are going to be taking over.

Jason Zenger: So that's also interesting, but what they talk about also, is also that one of the most successful implementations for another automotive company Ford, is actually using the cobot in their vision or quality inspection, so what used to be a really monotonous task, now the cobot goes through and scans the parts and then just alerts somebody when they need to get involved as opposed to the human going through and scanning the parts ... yeah, yeah so I mean if you think about it, why should a person sit there and start scanning that part when there's nothing wrong with it, when you could just program a cobot to do that and then it sounds off an alarm and he goes over there and he goes through the manual process at that point. So I think that there's, you're just going to see this cobotic revolution just explode.

Jim Carr: Got it. Well I have so many questions for my guest. I'm actually opening up my notes that I took down earlier before we hit the button, because I don't want to forget them. But before we bring him in, do you want to share with the metal working nation how to subscribe to ... The very new cool, highly technological way and easy way to subscribe to the boring bar?

Jason Zenger: Yeah, so I'm not going to give a lot of details, I want to keep it a surprise, but it's very simple -

Jim Carr: Oh, it's not that big of a secret.

Jason Zenger: ... So I'm going to say the number a couple of times so you all can stop driving or stop working -

Jim Carr: Did you say you all?

Jason Zenger: Yeah I did. My wife's from Dallas remember? So here's the number you're going to text to this number. 38470. Once again, that's 38470 and you're going to text the word Chips.

Jim Carr: C-H-I-P-S, not Jim, not Jason, Chips.

Jason Zenger: No, it's not always about you Jim.

Jim Carr: No. Chips, C-H-I-P-S.

Jason Zenger: To 38470.

Jim Carr: And you will be instantaneously connected to MakingChips.

Jason Zenger: Jim, so let's move along here, let's get to the heart of the episode. Jim could you introduce our guest please.

Jim Carr: So yes Jason, I'm interested to hear what our guest today has to share about this new cobotic technology. Already I'm excited to interview him or be part of this interview because just for the 40 minutes I talked to him already he sounds like a great guy and he's got a great story. His name is Elias Sehoya. He's originally from Brazil, he moved to Israel with his family when he was just 16, young man, and then moved to the United States after meeting his now wife, and moved to Chicago where he joined the E.J. Basler as a mechatronics engineer.

Jason Zenger: Welcome.

Jim Carr: Elias, welcome to the show.

Jason Zenger: How did Jim do?

Jim Carr: How did I do?

Elias Serruya: Oh you did a great job.

Jim Carr: Articulation wise.

Jason Zenger: Yeah, so for the metal working nation, that was Jim's third try at saying his name, and if you listen on to the end you'll probably hear all the bloopers where Jim tries and fails.

Jim Carr: And I do think I'm kind of cool, but at the end of the day, we were -

Jason Zenger: Jim's always trying to roll his tongue, and it's ... You really -

Jim Carr: I appreciate the articulation and being as authentic as you can.

Jason Zenger: Especially when you have a boring name like Jason Zenger or Jim Carr.

Jim Carr: Or Jim Carr.

Jason Zenger: Your name's just a little more boring than mine is.

Jim Carr: It's two syllables.

Jason Zenger: At least mine has a Z in it.

Jim Carr: Yes, I know, I know, mine's about as benign as they come.

Jason Zenger: I just wanted to try to make you feel better by saying mine's pretty cool too.

Elias Serruya: Can I brag just a little bit?

Jim Carr: You can brag.

Jason Zenger: Sure, of course.

Elias Serruya: Elias Sehoya.

Jason Zenger: There you go. So let's start. What brought you to this position at E.J. Basler as their mechatronics engineer?

Elias Serruya: Well, when I got to America coming from Israel, I got into E.J. Basler because my wife's father is the CEO of the company, so he said hey look, I have an opening over here, you an be the engineering intern for E.J. Basler and just try it out, see what you think, and I joined the company. So I started E.J. Basler as an engineering intern and as the intern, I used to do a lot of cycle time studies and run efficiency charts, and help around with the engineering team. Then, a year later, I had the opportunity to lead one of our production cells, and I was there for two years. It was great, I learned a lot about cycle times, about tooling, manufacturing processes and a few years later, I had another opportunity to be the quality engineer for the company. The position opened up and obviously I said yes, I will take it and give it a try.

Elias Serruya: That was where I really learned a lot about the business, because I think in quality, you are exposed to so many different areas, aspects of the business and the scope of working so broad, and you're always put into new situations with your customers and your internal customers -

Jim Carr: It's always changing.

Elias Serruya: It's always changing.

Jim Carr: It's always changing.

Elias Serruya: Exactly. It's always changing, so that's where I really got to learn about manufacturing. It was a good job, I see the benefit of it, however, answering your question, there was still an aspect in me that was missing.

Jim Carr: You had a void.

Elias Serruya: I had a void, and the void was really creativity right? I wasn't necessarily creating new things and innovating and that's what I really need as a person. I need a job or something where I can innovate.

Jason Zenger: Yeah, where say there's a problem or somewhere where we can make an improvement and you start from scratch and you're like solve this problem.

Elias Serruya: Exactly, yeah. Solve the problem. So that's what I was missing. I mean even when I was a quality engineer, I would go back to my office after the day, and I would sit in front of my computer, and I would create a spreadsheet that was linked to another spreadsheet that had a macro running in the background that sent a [crosstalk 00:19:34] to the ... So I was always thinking about ways to automate, ways to make my future self.

Jim Carr: So you were being proactive.

Elias Serruya: Being proactive.

Jim Carr: Yes, instead of reactive.

Elias Serruya: That's a good way to put it.

Jason Zenger: And did that bring you to working with the robotics then eventually?

Elias Serruya: Exactly, yeah. Because I always -

Jim Carr: Before we go there -

Jason Zenger: Yeah go ahead Jim.

Jim Carr: I have a quick question. I've heard of mechatronics before, can you tell me a little bit about what that is? Is it a degreed career or what does it really mean?

Jason Zenger: What does the word mean first of all?

Jim Carr: What does the word mean?

Elias Serruya: If you think about automation, it goes hand in hand with mechatronics. It's a multi-disciplinary approach to solving problems. So inside mechatronics, if you think about mechatronics as a bubble, you're going to find software automation, you're going to find mechanical automation, mathematics, chemistry and the computing and cloud and electronics, exactly, to the word mechatronics stands for the combination of mechanical systems and electronic systems.

Jim Carr: Awesome, I get it now.

Elias Serruya: Yeah, so it's really a multi-disciplinary type of thinking. It's automation.

Jason Zenger: Then what brought you to working in the robotics because I know we're going to talk today about collaborative robots, but that wasn't the first robot that you got to work with at E.J. Basler correct?

Elias Serruya: Exactly. It was an opportunity. My whole life I always gravitated towards automation, robotics included, not only -

Jason Zenger: So whether it's spreadsheet automation or mechanical automation.

Elias Serruya: Or electrical automation or exactly, software automation, I normally go back home and -

Jim Carr: Is that your passion?

Elias Serruya: That's my passion. I go back home and I go online and I research about a ... Exactly. I'm always thinking about it, so that's what I really enjoy doing, so that's how I ended up in this position, because I always gravitate towards automation.

Jason Zenger: You saw an improvement where you could really use your creativity and the mechatronics in order to help, I would suppose the bottom line, the cycle times, all that kind of stuff that adds to that continuous improvement that every manufacturing company needs to be focused on.

Elias Serruya: Right.

Jim Carr: We've all heard, and maybe there's a lot of people out in the metal working nation, we are hearing these new words, robotic technology, cobotic technology, can you tell us at a 30,000 foot level, what the differences are? What is the difference between robotic technology and cobotic technology?

Elias Serruya: So the main difference between collaborative robots, cobots and regular robots as we know them is that cobots can share the same work environment, the same workspace as a human being.

Jim Carr: So will they bump into you or I know that like with robotic technology I've seen an area on a floor that's got a yellow line that you can't pass beyond that -

Jason Zenger: Or it's fenced off.

Jim Carr: Or it's fenced off, or the machine is going to shut down if you enter that zone. With a cobot, are there any restrictions, or does the cobot actually engage with human. Is there human engagement with the cobot?

Elias Serruya: That's a good point. The benefit of using a cobot right, is that because it's a collaborative robot, you can let it share the same workspace with a human being, so you don't necessarily need to fence or enclose the entire area, or put a yellow tape, it depends on the application of course, but you don't have to enclose the area and that gives you some extra savings right?

Jason Zenger: Some flexibility.

Elias Serruya: Flexibility, some extra savings in regards to safety right? You don't need safety fences, you don't need safety hardware, you don't need safety sensors, you don't need a safety redundancy inside your controllers logic right?

Jason Zenger: Yeah, so if you bump the cobot, or the cobot bumps you, it stops.

Elias Serruya: It would stop.

Jim Carr: Oh see, I didn't know that.

Jason Zenger: Yeah, and there's regulations on the speed that it can travel or the velocity such that it's not going to hurt you.

Jim Carr: So it's not super fast.

Jason Zenger: It's not going to hurt you.

Jim Carr: Is it move like a human moves? Like at that same pace? We all know that the advantages I would assume with a cobot -

Jason Zenger: Yeah, it's meant to mimic in a lot of ways like I say a human arm, that would be a simplified way of thinking about it.

Jim Carr: But it's not going to have this huge velocity behind it. It's not about speed.

Jason Zenger: Right, where's those traditional like you think of the welding robots. I mean if one of those bumps into you, I mean [crosstalk 00:23:53].

Jim Carr: It could kill you.

Jason Zenger: Right absolutely.

Jim Carr: So this is taking away arduous, redundant, safety dangerous type -

Jason Zenger: Well it's just like if you're working next to another person, you're not going to suspect that that person's going to hurt you in the way that they're interacting in their environment you know what I mean? Same thing with this collaborative robot. That sound okay?

Elias Serruya: Yeah, absolutely. That's fair.

Jim Carr: So is cobot collaborative robots, is it for everybody? Is it for a machine shop like mine that is doing low volume work? What would be a good application for a shop like mine, and I've shared with you a little bit based on what you heard about what we do at Carr Machine, could there potentially be a certain application for a shop like mine, and what would that be?

Elias Serruya: So for shops that run lower amounts of production, I think because you don't have that very repetitive type of work in a shop, you'd have to obviously find the right application that takes away some of the human work, now some of that could be related to quality assurance. Let's say you want to inspect all your parts right? You could mount a laser sensor to your cobot, then you could scan the pieces and just let it run that way you'd actually be automating your inspection processes.

Jim Carr: Understood, understood.

Jason Zenger: Yeah, and one of the other advantages you have with say cobots as opposed to your traditional robots is with the traditional robot, you're spending a lot of money to set that robot up, to program the software, and to make sure that it's repeatedly running at a high pace. For you Jim, in a lower production environment whereas E.J. Basler's more of a high production environment, but for you in low production, that cobot is so easy to reprogram on a new job that it could make sense for say machine tending if you had say like a media production job, or it was something bigger than a couple parts, but you needed the machine to do the tending for you instead of your operator doing it. So does that make sense?

Jim Carr: It certainly does. Thank you for that. But, you mentioned one thing that got my mind thinking about programming. What is the difference in skill level to program a robot versus a cobot. Is it teaching the cobot how to do it? Like moving the arm and it's, you know how when you do trace like a C and C and you tell it, it moves from this point to this point, to this point, to this point, to this point, to this point, is that kind of like the same thing with showing the cobot that you're going to move here, and then you're going to move here, and you're going to do this, and then you're going to do that. Is it just mimic the movements and it retains those points, on the Cartesian coordinate system?

Elias Serruya: Yeah, that's essentially what it is. You're basically teaching your cobot or robot in the same way that a cobot would do, a regular robot would also work as you're just teaching points in space right?

Jim Carr: Right, exactly.

Elias Serruya: So you move to a position, you record that point in space and them move to the next one right? And somewhere in between your logic, you would have conditions right? So you would look for inputs from a sensor, so if you're about to grab a workpiece from a table, you'd basically look for an input that says hey, that workpiece is actually in place, go ahead robot and close your gripper, and so on, so that way you build your logic.

Jim Carr: I understand. Another thing that you just mentioned is, do all cobots have grippers on them? They must, because otherwise, it has to automate a process right? So these grippers, do you change them out based on the size of the part, based on the weight of the part, are there capacity issues or what?

Elias Serruya: Well at least in our case, we tend to either 3D print our grippers [crosstalk 00:27:40]

Jim Carr: Oh interesting.

Elias Serruya: That's a possibility depending on the application, or we could also make them out of metal but yes, as long as your cobot, the application you're using the cobot for includes handling any type of material yes, you do need grippers.

Jason Zenger: Yeah, so like in their case, the application that I've seen, they are handling material, so it does need to have a gripper, but if you remember back to that manufacturing news article, where they're talking about Ford Motor Company as the example, it was purely doing inspection, so I would suppose, I mean I haven't been there, but I would suppose that it just had visual inspection equipment on it as opposed to gripping and placing any kind of materials.

Jason Zenger: So you've got that flexibility for sure in order to solve a lot of different problems, even beyond just the traditional picking up and placing of parts.

Jim Carr: Very cool, very cool.

Jim Carr: Hey Jason, you know I love acronyms right? And we've got the MakingChips acronym book right?

Jason Zenger: Yeah, so what do you want to add to it?

Jim Carr: Well, it's called FSBS.

Jason Zenger: Are you swearing in that one?

Jim Carr: I am not swearing in that, and it's all about pro shop ERP.

Jason Zenger: So what does it mean?

Jim Carr: What we're using it's -

Jason Zenger: Let me guess, the S means shop.

Jim Carr: For Shops, By Shops.

Jason Zenger: Well that's how that software was made.

Jim Carr: It was. Shop floor guys developed this software, and let me tell you, it is no BS.

Jason Zenger: So go to for more information.

Jason Zenger: So how did you go about choosing the first I guess problem you were going to solve or just continuous improvement that you were going to go after when you decided to implement cobots at E.J. Basler? How did you say this is the right application that we need to implement cobots into?

Elias Serruya: At Basler, we watch our costs right? Like any business, you're going to be watching your costs, costs of operation, cost of quality engineering, [inaudible 00:29:35] quality, all the famous metrics that we know in manufacturing.

Jason Zenger: That's the name of the game in manufacturing.

Elias Serruya: Exactly yeah, and if you're at a point where you have those metrics, it's going to be somewhat easy for you to identify the opportunities for automation. Sometimes automation doesn't necessarily come from a operation that's suffering right? So let's say you're running 100 operations in your shop, you see that one is not being as profitable as you'd like to right? So you decide to automate. That's one case, but you could also just have an idea and say hey, maybe this is an innovative way to improve and optimize this process. Which doesn't necessarily come from identifying a lack of profit.

Jason Zenger: Can you just walk around the shop and ... Because I've been in shops before and I'm like, [crosstalk 00:30:20].

Jim Carr: Is the cobot following you?

Jason Zenger: No, there's no cobot following me, but I point it out and say cobot you need to go over there, because that person is doing a task over and over and over again at the same time, and I know from talking to the owner of that shop, that he's having trouble hiring people so I'm like okay, replace him or her, that operation with a cobot, put him into a higher use or have them working along so that they can work at a quicker place so that you can make better use of your people. Does that sound like a fair assessment of how to look at opportunities?

Elias Serruya: Yeah absolutely I mean it's one of the best ways right? The best thing you can do is just walk around your shop and just observe and just by observing you see hey, maybe there's an opportunity here. Obviously you need to know what's possible so having someone who can integrate or someone who can at least identify those next to you as you walk around is a benefit.

Jason Zenger: So the cobot application that caught my eye when I was at E.J. Basler recently was not your traditional application that people talk about that people go after first, people usually say okay, well i want a cobot to do machine tending. I want a cobot to pick and place, I want a cobot to do inspection, hook up a camera to it and away we go. You're working on an application that seems a little bit more complex. You're not doing any of those. Can you tell us a little bit about this application and why you decided to go after this particular one?

Elias Serruya: Yeah of course. You are right by saying that most cobot, collaborative robotics applications would be for machine tending or material handling or an operation where you have both humans and robots working at the same time. In our case, this machine that we're building is for [inaudible 00:31:58] operation. Right now this operations are all being done manually. It's really costly, it's also very physically demanding to our operators and we would like to automate. So although there's no collaboration hand in hand between the cobots -

Jim Carr: Oh the cobots not handing it to a human.

Elias Serruya: Right, which is most -

Jim Carr: Oh is that right? That's most integrations are the cobot is handing it to a human?

Jason Zenger: Or at least there's some collaboration within the workspace.

Jim Carr: Really? Interesting.

Elias Serruya: Yes, because you are sharing that workspace with a person. So let's say for example, machine tending right? We have a robot right in front of machine receiving parts from an operator in some way and then the robot is putting those parts and taking them out and usually the operator is still doing some inspections, so somewhere in between you have an overlap between the cobot and the operator.

Jason Zenger: Or they might be handing it off for a second op or something like that.

Elias Serruya: For a second op, exactly. So in most cases, at least from walk around and watching what people are doing, that's mostly the case. In our case, we decided to completely eliminate the human interaction from this very demanding, physically demanding operation.

Jim Carr: Is [crosstalk 00:33:04] like in a pedestal grinder or I mean once the cobot grabs the piece part, does it have to pick it up numerous times because I would imagine the grippers on the cobot are going to be over the areas of the workpiece and it has to grab it so we can remove a burr from like a pedestal grinder or something else.

Elias Serruya: That's a good point. That could be the case. In our case, because we're so lucky, we don't have to de-burr all around the workpiece. So we actually have some areas where we can just grip and not move right? So you don't have to actually clear that area and then come back to de-burr it. It's burr free already. So if you grip on it, you can finish the entire operation without re-gripping.

Jim Carr: So you're gripping on the de-burred area already and making it ... Does it go to a pedestal grinder or what is the de-burring operation?

Elias Serruya: We're using a buffing wheel.

Jim Carr: A buffing wheel, okay perfect.

Elias Serruya: We have tried different types of wheel and obviously depending on what material you're using, some would work better than others.

Jim Carr: Totally get it.

Jason Zenger: And essentially the cobot is mimicking the motions that the human was doing prior.

Elias Serruya: Exactly.

Jason Zenger: So have you come across challenges associated with this type of application?

Elias Serruya: Challenges.

Jason Zenger: It's more complex. One of the things that I noticed that you have that low voltage box which you explained to me is the brains and controls the universal robot which is not the typical. Typically users use the controller for the universal robot, but you have that control box that's doing it instead right? So to me, that's a little bit more complex there.

Elias Serruya: I see. So when we decided to automate this particular job, well obviously we had a few options right? You could do exactly what you said which is have the robot be the brains of the operation and handle all the signals that you have to use for example, the robot is going to tell the motor when to move so that you can de-burr. It's going to tell it when to stop. It's going to tell the camera when to take a picture of that de-burred edge to make sure that it was actually cleaned.

Elias Serruya: In my case, I decided to split the controls, so I decided to have a POC actually be the brains of the operation and use the robot as a separate controller and just put a handshake between the two. So the controller would essentially know at all times, the main controller would know at all times where the cobot is at and every other component within that cell.

Jason Zenger: And what was the reason for that?

Elias Serruya: Because we had so many components running at the same time. The same time that I had to do inspection with the camera, I had to make sure that we have parts being fed, so when you have so many subsystems actually integrating between themselves, I find it easier to actually have one main controller and have each subsystem work independently so also have the cobot be a subsystem right?

Jason Zenger: Understood. You know, I know you're part of the family at E.J. Basler and customers I'm sure come and visit you as they do visit Jim Carr's shop and my place of business and everybody out there, we're all showing customers around about while we're a great company to do business with, you should give us more business. Do you believe that in the future a company such as yours, cobotics and robotics are going to be what I would call table stakes like if you're not showing the customer that you have implemented robotics, they might be hesitant about doing further business with you in the future?

Elias Serruya: You know, I don't know if they would hesitate of doing business with you in the future, but I do know that automation is really attractive. I do know that when the customers come in and you show them a system that you fully automated especially doing it yourself in house, that's attractive and people like it. They see that you're trying to keep up and improve. Keep up with innovation and technology.

Jim Carr: Well you're trying to be progressive.

Elias Serruya: Exactly.

Jim Carr: Because if you're not, you're going to eventually just fall into the fold and go away. If you're not trying to keep your technology high, you're eventually going to be status quo and then after status quo, you're just going to be below the bar and -

Jason Zenger: It's like when your dad told you he didn't want to buy a C and C machine right?

Jim Carr: Yes, exactly. Kind of sort of. Exactly.

Jason Zenger: And you said no dad, we're going C and C.

Jim Carr: Well actually, he was the one that said we're going to go C and C.

Jason Zenger: I do know some companies out there where their dad said that and -

Jim Carr: They're not around anymore right?

Jason Zenger: Yeah, exactly. So, along those same lines, I know that the Basler does a lot of work at Leyden High School, who actually we've done an episode with before in the past. I think it's episode 56 and 57, and they definitely pour into those young kids and trying to groom them to come into the manufacturing industry. Do you think robotics is attractive to that younger generation? Do you think if a kid out of high school and he's ready to go into manufacturing and he goes to a shop that doesn't have robotics, and he goes to a shop that does robotics, do you think he's going to say you know, I really want to be with this company that's more progressive like Jim said and has those robotic options out there?

Elias Serruya: I believe so. I mean if you think about the younger generation, what do they have in their pockets right? They have a piece of equipment that's so technologically advanced that they can look up anything, anytime that they want right? So basically they have so much power in their hand so when they go to a place that's not at least trying to keep up with some level of technology, yes, it's not as attractive as one that has cobots running all over the place.

Jason Zenger: So my last question, what does the future look like at E.J. Basler for cobots? More?

Elias Serruya: Absolutely. I think so. I believe so. Today we have a list of projects that will keep us busy until 2021 and a lot of them actually includes cobotics and robotics and automation.

Jason Zenger: Great. Jim, do you have any final questions?

Jim Carr: I don't. I can see already that it's opening my mind to being receptive to seeing if there's an opportunity for us to employ this in our shop. Maybe as we start to explore the higher volume type work, I don't know, but certainly I appreciate the information that you shared with me and Jason and the entire metal working nation today because I think we all need to be thinking progressively and thinking about what the next vision is for our company and what our shops are going to look like in one, two, three, five, 10 years and I definitely see that this is going to be part of every manufacturing company in the future. I don't know how -

Jason Zenger: Yeah, so if you don't have that young person that is a mechatronics engineer like Elias on their team, it can probably be really intimidating but I think it's like Jim said, it's something that you need to start exploring and the reason that MakingChips exists is to bring this community together and make each other better and elevate the industry, so I would say if you have questions about this, email Jim and I, let us know what your questions are about cobotics, because we love to talk about it on the show, and let us know what your pain points are, let us know what your experiences using cobotics because there's so much discussion to be had about this subject matter as we talked about in the manufacturing news. It is just growing and growing and growing.

Jim Carr: What's your email address?

Jason Zenger: My email is and guess who you are?

Jim Carr:

Jason Zenger: There you go.

Jim Carr: Easy peasy.

Jason Zenger: Yeah. So Jim, would you like to take another stab at his name and thank him for being on the show?

Jim Carr: Elias Seyura.

Jason Zenger: And he's nice to me, he just let's me call him Elias.

Elias Serruya: No Jim.

Jim Carr: I'll let you say it.

Elias Serruya: Elias Sehoya.

Jim Carr: Muy bien. Thank you.

Jason Zenger: Yeah, so thank you for being on the show it's definitely you taught me something here and I appreciate it and I hope to see a lot more cobots in your future.

Elias Serruya: Yeah, me too.

Jim Carr: Yeah. Appreciate it man. So Jason, wow, another good episode, another great guest.

Jason Zenger: And I like that you're thinking about this Jim and that you said you're thinking about it for your shop because -

Jim Carr: I'm thinking about a lot of things.

Jason Zenger: ... what you're ... A year ago you told me -

Jim Carr: I'm thinking about retirement too.

Jason Zenger: Let's replace you with a robot, I've said that before. We can replace you with a robot on MakingChips on the podcast too.

Jim Carr: You could. Yeah.

Jason Zenger: And to do the quality at the shop.

Jim Carr: I'd like to see that, but at the end of the day, it's all good, and it's all positive and yeah, we have to be constantly thinking about the future and ways to be better tomorrow because you know how fast time goes. A year, two, three, five, you peel them off like crazy and the next thing you know if you're not adapting to the new technologies that are available to us, you're going to be just washed away.

Jason Zenger: And then you're thinking about retirement.

Jim Carr: And then you're going to be yeah, status quo.

Jason Zenger: I think you should keep working for awhile.

Jim Carr: I am, I am. I like what I do. I enjoy the daily challenge but anyway, just before we go and we say our closing notes, I just again, remember to text chips, C-H-I-P-S to 38470 so you can get all the news and information on our weekly -

Jason Zenger: 38470. 38470.

Jim Carr: Right, because they need to be equipped, inspired on our weekly newsletter called the boring bar. So with that, as my dad used to say back in the 70s and now we have robots that are doing the things for us, if you're not making chips, maybe your cobot -

Jason Zenger: Your cobot's making chips.

Jim Carr: Your cobots making chips -

Jason Zenger: You're not making money.

Jim Carr: You bet. Bam.

Speaker 4: As always, thank you for listening to the MakingChips podcast. You need to increase the speed and feed of your business. If you're not elevating your manufacturing leadership, you're going to get left behind. The metal working nation is committed to a new way to stay ahead of the competition. We have more content to help you make and elevate at Gain access to exclusive content as well as videos, blogs, show notes and more resources designed to equip and inspire you. We'll see you next time.

Jim Carr: Elias Seroya.

Jason Zenger: He's telling you wrong.

Elias Serruya: Remember, the accent is on the I so Elias.

Jim Carr: Elias. Okay we're going to start it again.


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