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Automation Idea for a Social-Distanced Halloween?

Maybe not. But, the candy-throwing robots at MetalQuest’s Nebraska facility do enable the contract machine shop to stand out at career fairs and similar events.

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MetalQuest Unlimited

When not tending a machine tool at MetalQuest, robots such as this one might be throwing candy at career fairs, enticing students to consider a career in the high-tech world of manufacturing.

Both Multitasking equipment and robotic automation has been a big part of contract machine shop MetalQuest’s success. Its 51,000-square-foot facility in Hebron, Nebraska, has 13 robots, and the company buys them directly from FANUC and performs all integration itself.

What you might not expect is that the shop has four candy-throwing robots. More specifically, four that can be adapted to perform said candy throwing when not tending machine tools on the shop floor.

MetalQuest integrated the candy-throwing function into those robots so it can take them to local career fairs or feature them at its own open houses. (It chooses which of the four to use based on their respective production workloads.)

These compact units enable the company to demonstrate and start a conversation about how today’s machining and manufacturing companies are highly technical operations. Users pick from two candy options (Nerds or Hershey chocolates … I’m picking chocolates all day long) using buttons on a control strip. The robot uses its vision capability to find a selected candy, pick it up with a vacuum gripper and then toss it to someone or into a bin as shown above. “As you can imagine, this helps us stand out from the crowd at career fairs and similar events,” says Scott Volk, MetalQuest’s vice president and COO.

Don’t you wish you had one for Halloween tomorrow?

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