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Cobots are coming: When mech, man and manufacturing combine

by Delany Martinez, originally published via Multiview


While humans are capable of astonishing endurance and precision, repetitive motion tasks are bad news for manufacturing: they aren’t just physically harmful over time, they can lead to worker burnout.

When productivity is the main focus of most industries today, what’s a large company with large needs to do when faced with human limitations?

Hiring more workers is a huge drain on finances, but going fully automated isn’t likely to win any favors with the workforce, and by extension, the public.

The solution? Cobots, or collaborative robots.

What Are Cobots?

While they’ve been around in one form or another since the dawn of robotics, true cobots are robots that are purpose-built and field-tested to perform as reliably as their human counterparts — with one important difference.

Rather than advanced technology designed to replace humans, they’re made to work with and alongside their flesh-and-blood coworkers, reducing strain of both the mental and physical variety.

Instead of relying on a pair of human eyes to scan, for example, a conveyor belt full of components to spot damages, a cobot can be armed with visual guidance software that can complete the task in a fraction of the time. This leaves the cobot’s human co-worker the freedom to complete human intelligence-requiring tasks, thus increasing overall efficiency.

What’s the Holdup on Full Cobot Adoption?

Much like any industrial place where man and machine intersect, it’s complicated. The primary concerns are ethics and safety, and those aren’t small hurdles to overcome by any stretch of the imagination.

Safety comes into play when trying to balance the superior speed, longevity and precision of cobots with potential threats to their human handlers.

For example, if a human collapses or drops an item, they aren’t typically moving at high speed with hydraulics behind them: the wrong accident at the wrong speed can end up as a deadly accident. Likewise, if a limb, hair, or a piece of clothing becomes tangled in a piece of industrial equipment, workers may be literally putting their life in robotic hands — or lack thereof — by depending on a cobot to assess and address a looming emergency by cutting power.

Robots and cobots are, after all, a product of their programming, and scenarios like these are putting a lot of faith in programmers’ ability to encode every emergency situation before it has a chance to happen.

In terms of ethics, the issue is twofold: cobots may be taking jobs that humans either are or could be doing, and their human counterparts may face reductions in pay rates or hours of availability once cobots begin taking over repetitive or menial tasks.

Though they are intended for coworking with humans, it’s not hard to imagine the tension they bring to a competitive employment market. In all likelihood, even though they’re typically nothing more than a collection of metal, silicone and wires, cobots will invite the same uneasiness in certain situations that an overambitious co-worker driving to take over your job might inspire.

These concerns aren’t slowing down the gradual spread of cobots, however: at it’s core, they’re fed by a design market buoyed by the encroaching demand for personal assistance robots in the private sector.

It’s an industry that’s projected to be worth 10 billion dollars in only a decade, which is the kind of exponential growth its adopters can only dream about for their own products. While the proverbial bugs are being ironed out, cobots have most industry experts cautiously optimistic about the possibilities.

Only time will tell, however, if cobots will ultimately get a warm welcome or a cold shoulder from their carbon-based counterparts.

About the Author

Delany Martinez is a freelance writer with a passion for innovation, particularly in the manufacturing industry and within the supply chain. She’s had the privilege of working on several large logistics corporate blogs over the years, and can usually be found with her nose buried in industry trade magazines. Delany believes advances like driverless trucking will revolutionize the supply chain as we know it within a decade, and she is eager to see what the future holds.

These Members Met at a MDNA Event and Struck a Deal

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Scott Buth, Alternative Machine Tool, LLC

Testimonial from MDNA Member—-Scott Buth, CEA, CSA, Alternative Machine Tool, LLC

At the Detroit “Weekend With The Pros” I met a new MDNA Member, Matt Reed with Benchmark Machine Tools LLC. He introduced himself as an “Expert” in Parts Washers.

I am happy to report that I kept his card, and recently I came across a late model, parts washer that I needed his help on. Our deal went very smooth and we each made enough money to pay our MDNA dues for many years to come.

Without that “face to face” meeting, I would have never pursued this machine that was out of my area of expertise. I would highly recommend that any MDNA member contact Matt Reed when they come across a Parts Washer.—-Scott Buth, CEA, CSA, Alternative Machine Tool, LLC

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Southern Regional Meeting RECAP

Thanks to our great host and sponsors of the Southern Regional May 2018 Chapter Meeting:
southern fab machinery sales
Southern Fabricating Machinery Sales, Inc. – Host
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Direct Capital, A Division of CIT Bank, N.A. – Sponsor
Pearl Equipment Co- Friday Night Reception - Sponsor
Pearl Equipment Co- Friday Night Reception – Sponsor
Over 30 individuals from over ten MDNA Member firms attended the Southern Regional Chapter Meeting. Firms represented at meeting: AM Metalmaq, ABL Technology, EDM Systems, Great American, Hilco, Pearl Equipment, ReSell CNC, Southern Fab, Standard Industrial, Tiger Group.
Prospective Branch Member, Tiger Group’s, Wayne Hecht attended the meeting.
Meeting Overview and Topics of Interest:
  • Attendees reported that business is good in the Southern Region. Members in attendance report that machine sales and transactions have been strong for the first half of 2018.
  • Planning is underway for the SRC’s Fall meeting in conjunction with FABTECH- Atlanta. This will be a large scale chapter meeting and dinner event. All representatives from MDNA firms, from all chapters and Premier Vendors are welcome and encouraged to attend. Sponsorship and host opportunities are available, and going fast.

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A Hand Up for the Next Generation!

Mentoring Makes a Difference

Ask any accomplished person to what they attribute their success and you’ll probably hear a story about someone who helped them become the person they are today. In Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 11.05.42 AMfact, most highly successful people have a mentor (or mentors) who took the time to share their knowledge and experience. Mentorship can come in many forms; you may choose to mentor a child, a young adult, or a less experienced professional. But whatever the case, a mentor can offer a type of constructive guidance unlike that found in any other personal or professional relationship.

Acting as a mentor can be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll have, both personally and professionally. At the heart of being a mentor is becoming a trusted advisor to your mentee and making yourself available to pass on your knowledge and experience. You’ll offer advice and support intended to help your mentee develop in their career and as a person.

Today’s workplace is changing rapidly and in just a few years Millennials­—people born between 1977 and 1997—will make up almost half of the global workforce. This generation thinks about work in a different way and views it as an integral part of their lives rather than something they “balance” their lives against. They seek work that is meaningful and fulfilling, and they can benefit enormously from the attention and support of a mentor who can guide them toward fulfilling their goal of professional success accompanied by meaning. Acting as a mentor to a such a young professional can allow you to not only participate in their success but contribute on a larger scale as well – to your business or to your community.

A mentor must believe in the person they support both personally and professionally. The best mentor/mentee relationships require vulnerability and honesty. For the relationship to be successful, the mentee has to be comfortable enough to let down their guard and share their insecurities. The best mentors speak not only of their successes, but their failures as well. As well as passing on knowledge, a mentor must strive to inspire. Inspiration is married to emotion, and a successful mentor will infuse knowledge with emotional weight.

While long-term mentoring relationships are a deeply satisfying way to make a significant difference in another person’s life, mentoring can also be short-term or even a one-off incident. Taking half an hour for a coffee with a college student to talk about career opportunities in your field is also a way of mentoring. In my business as a machinery dealer, I often take the time to share aspects of my experience that will be helpful to my customers.

If we as a community develop a mentoring mindset, the benefits will be enormous. As the adage goes, experience is the best teacher. We need to share our experience in a way that will benefit the younger generation, but we need to do this in a way that will not alienate them. Mentoring relationships are just that – relationships – and are based on the give and take of conversation. Mentoring can be a particularly effective way to transmit knowledge to new generations.

Everyone benefits from the mentoring mindset. Young people not only acquire knowledge and skills, but they gain confidence from the relationship itself. Knowing that someone you respect and admire believes in you and is invested in your success gives a powerful boost to your motivation and confidence. And for a mentor, watching a young person succeed with the knowledge that you have played a role in that success is deeply rewarding. Everyone has something valuable to share. If we all adopt the mentoring mindset, we can each play a small role in making the world a better place one person at a time.

Written by Kevin Brewster, AEA, President Brewster Machinery Sales Inc.

MDNA Chapter Leadership Chairman/ New England Chapter MDNA Chairman and KB- with bms logo[1] copyNational Board Representative/ Proud Member of the MDNA & AMEA

About the Author:  Kevin Brewster, AEA has a long and diverse background in manufacturing, and was a precision machinist and tool maker for more than 20 years. He has been the owner and president of Brewster Machinery Sales ( for the past ten years. Kevin is chairman of the New England chapter of the Machinery Dealer’s National Association (MDNA), an MDNA national board representative, and an active member of the Association of Machinery and Equipment Appraisers (AMEA).


Welcoming Non-Members to Join Us at…

Now Welcoming Non-Members to Join One of Our 

Up-Coming Chapter Meetings! 

Dealers, The possibilities are endless when we come together…
Learn about how MDNA can benefit you!
Check out up-coming events/meetings near you here

Simply RSVP to the contact provided with the event or call the MDNA office at 800.872.7807 and let them know which event you’d like to attend.

–Start Making Money With Us–

Membership Committee Proposes an Increase in Auctioneer Category

MDNA Membership Committee Proposes a 5% Increase in the Auctioneer Category

The MDNA Board of Directors has authorized a change to the MDNA Constitution be sent out to the general membership for vote. This was reported in the January 2018 Board Report and in an email from MDNA Membership Chairman Dan Wheeler.

Mr. Wheeler has reported that feedback from his email has been overwhelmingly in favor of this change.


Increase the allowable number of auctioneer members in the MDNA by 5% or up to a maximum of 20% of the total membership. 

MDNA Constitution

Article II — Membership

The Association shall have the following membership classes: Regular, International, Auctioneer, Emeritus, Branch and Senior. No new applicant for International membership shall be elected unless the total number of that class — excluding Branch members — is 10 percent or less of the total membership.  No new applicant for Auctioneer membership shall be elected unless the total number of that class — excluding Branch members — is 15 20 percent or less of the total membership.



This percentage increase will create the space necessary to bring into the MDNA (once vetted and approved) Auctioneer Prospective Members that are currently waiting on space.  These are companies interested in joining and supporting our association now!

The Membership Committee discussed this topic at length and decided to bring a motion to the MDNA Board to increase the allowable number of auctioneer members in the MDNA by 5% or up to a maximum of up to 20% of total membership.  The Board voted overwhelmingly in favor of the motion and approved it to be sent out to all members for a full member vote.

This percentage increase will create the space necessary to bring all three of these companies into the MDNA (once vetted and approved).  These are companies interested in joining and supporting our association now.  This will also create a limited number of slots, if needed, for additional auctioneers in the future.

The Membership Committee feels that being more inclusive of auctioneers of used machinery better reflects today’s business model.  Many dealers partner with and make money with auctioneers in a variety of ways.  We feel this will benefit current MDNA members by providing even more opportunities to make money with auctioneers within our association.

Benefits of approving this percentage change:

  • Auctioneers who are MDNA Members participate in the networking to the benefit of all members
  • Auctioneers who are MDNA Members will have the ability to contribute via sponsorships at Chapter meetings, Convention, Weekend With The Pros, etc.
  • Auctioneers who are MDNA Members are held accountable through the Ethics and Mediation Process.
  • Adding Auctioneers will increase our numbers and “Our strength is in our numbers”

This percentage increase will not:

  • Change the core mission of the Machinery Dealers National Association
  • Eliminate the Auctioneer Category
  • Change or alter the current makeup or voting rights of the MDNA Board

I hope that all members will join me in voting in favor of this update to our constitution.  If, anyone has a question or comment or just want to learn more about the Membership Committees’ work on this or anything please do not hesitate to call me at: 909 348 5610 or email me. 

We will not call for the vote until all members have had time to discuss this topic at your spring chapter meetings.  Additionally, we will also discuss this during the Annual Meeting at Convention.  We will only vote after that.

Optional Broadway Shows

Hello Dolly cost – $99

Lion King cost – $119

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical – cost $89

To register for one of these go to the MDNA Convention Registration page

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical

broadway 1 downloadBeautiful is the word to describe this show that tells the inspiring true story of Carole King’s remarkable rise to stardom. Along the way, she made more than beautiful music, she wrote the soundtrack to a generation. Featuring a stunning array of beloved songs including “I Feel The Earth Move,” “One Fine Day,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “You’ve Got A Friend”, it is a moving story that will have you singing “Beautiful”!  Winner of two Tony Awards and a  Grammy Award.

Hello Dolly

broadway 2The superlatives reviews make this a must see musical comedy dream. An impeccable blend of spectacle and star power, this is classic broadway at its best! Dolly is the iconic Bernadette Peters, the most accomplished musical  actress of her generation. Audiences show their delight with thunderous applause and leave the theatre with an unforgettable experience. Winner of four Tony Awards this show has been described as a riotous delight!

Lion King

broadway 3Experience the stunning artistry, unforgettable music and the exhilarating choreography of Disney’s Lion King. With a pulsing spectacle driven by primal African rhythms, unforgettable tunes, including Elton John and Tim Rice’s Oscar-winning “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”, it is a jaw-dropping display of exotic African wildlife brought to life onstage. There are good reasons why The Lion King won a half-dozen Tony Awards. Intensely physical stage work and countless visual surprises hold your attention from start to finish.

Government Affairs: Huge Changes in the new “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act”

(Published on 1/11/18) Written by Craig L. Ward, MDNA Vice President and Government Affairs Committee Chairman.

Here’s the MDNA low-down on “An Act to Provide for Reconciliation Pursuant to Titles II and V of the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2018” (commonly known as the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act”) and how it affects our used metalworking and capital equipment market.

As many of our longtime members know, the MDNA’s Government Affairs Committee has followed, reported on and lent its voice in support of any legislation that has a direct impact on our members and newly passed Tax Reform has a big impact.

Changes Effect both Bonus Depreciation and Section 179 Expensing.  Please remember these are two distinctly different processes for companies to handle the tax ramifications of investing in equipment purchases.

Bonus Depreciation – Previously Bonus Depreciation was not an option for purchasers of our used machinery and capital equipment because the law stipulated that the original use of the property had to begin with the taxpayer (meaning used property wouldn’t qualify for the bonus depreciation opportunity).

Under the new law, Section 168(k) was rewritten so that now the only requirement is that the property was not used by the taxpayer at any time prior to its acquisition, which expands bonus depreciation to used machinery and capital equipment, as well other qualifying property. The Act also enables purchasers of used machinery and capital equipment to take a first-year deduction for 100% of the cost basis for qualified property acquired and placed in service after Sept. 27, 2017, and before Jan. 1, 2023.  The law calls for reduction in the percentage that may be expensed for property placed in service after Dec. 31, 2022.

Section 179 Expensing – In lieu of taking bonus depreciation your customers can expense used machinery or capital equipment, placed in service in tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017, under Code Sec. 179 up to $1 million, and the phase-out threshold amount is increased to $2.5 million.  And for tax years beginning after 2018, these amounts will be indexed for inflation. This is double the previous limitation.

Blumberg Tax published an online “Tax Reform Road Map” that is available for free to anyone that signs up at their website.   It is by far one of the best “plain English” summaries on the web.

There are also notable changes that may impact you or your customers if you or they are a corporate taxpayer:

  • New corporate rate is a flat 21% effective 1/1/2018- any fiscal year taxpayers will need to prorate their tax rate for the fiscal year that includes 1/1/2018
  • New rules for Net Operating Losses generated in tax years beginning after 12/31/2017
  • AMT has been repeals
  • Section 199 for domestic manufacturing deduction has been repealed for tax years beginning after 12/31/2017
  • Further limitation to the deductibility of meals & entertainment expenses
  • Business interest expense deductibility is limited to interest income plus 30% of taxable income before interest, depreciation and amortization and tax expense
  • Certain legal settlement costs are not deductible for tax purposes
  • Significant changes have been enacted for corporations with international operations, including new regimes for Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income (GILTI) and Base Erosion Anti-Abuse Tax (BEAT). Additionally, a transition tax is imposed for previously deferred earnings and profits overseas.

Likewise, many of these items have implications for entities that operate as partnerships. There is also a change to the way individual partners are taxed on flow through income.

**This is not tax advice and everyone should consult their own tax experts to evaluate their individual situations.



The More You Know, ADLSF

A letter from our President


Did you know that the MDNA Austin D. Lucas Scholarship Fund awards grants for college tuition to children whose parents are employed by MDNA member firms? This

Kristine Conroy, ADLS Fund President with Austin D. Lucas
Kristine Conroy, ADLS Fund President with Austin D. Lucas

member benefit is often called the “heart” of the MDNA. For those not familiar, MDNA’s Scholarship Fund was started by Austin D. Lucas in 1983. Austin D. Lucas was a pillar of the MDNA member family for many years. He started out in the business with his father and grandfather at J. L. Lucas & Sons, Inc. They joined the MDNA in 1953. Later he began his own company Austin D. Lucas Inc. In addition to his work for the Scholarship Fund, he served MDNA with distinction, rising through the ranks to serve as MDNA President in 1956 and 1957. Additionally, he served as LOCATOR Services Inc. President from 1970 to 1974.

Since the inception of the fund in 1983, 1,249 students have received scholarships totaling over $1,678,000. The scholarships awarded make a significant difference in the student’s tuition as the awards range from $1000 to $5000. The goal remains the same, as when it was founded, to help fund the college and trade school education of children whose parents work for firms belonging to MDNA. Every year the Trustees of the Fund award scholarship to this group of deserving children. This year the Fund awarded more than 55 scholarships. The Fund’s principal is never touched. Only the interest is awarded to deserving students. The Fund grows through interest earned by investments and the wonderful generosity of MDNA members and other donors. Donations are always welcome and directly benefit the students and their pursuit of an education.

Sarah B. Johnson
Sarah B. Johnson

This year Sarah B. Johnson was the standout scholarship recipient of the prestigious Austin D. Lucas Trust Award. This award commemorates the legacy of a man who dedicated many years to philanthropic endeavors and charitable work. Sarah exemplifies Austin’s spirit of generosity and dedication to the service of others.

You can read about all of this year’s recipients and more about the Austin D. Lucas Scholarship Fund here. 

MDNA President – Joe Lundvick, CEA, Perfection Global, LLC

The Annual Tri-Chapter Met at OCC

MDNA’s New England Chapter, New York/New Jersey Chapter and Philadelphia Chapter met for their annual Tri-Chapter Meeting on December 7th, 2017. This years meeting focus was on”Manufacturing Partners” and was hosted by the Orange County Choppers (OCC) and sponsored by AUCTOAbba Freight Systems, LLC, and Direct Capital, A Division of CIT Bank, N.A.  See more photos from this event here 








After five years off the air, Discovery Channel is reviving the iconic motorcycle-construction reality series American Chopper…. Read more about this story with Aaron Equipment, an MDNA Member Firm who has had three bikes built by OCC!












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