For many years integrators have engineered, built and installed automation machinery for their manufacturer clients. As manufacturing has begun to move from mass production to mass customization, the integration process has required more flexibility and increasingly used robots as part, if not all, of the solution.
On my recent research trip to Odense, Denmark, the value offered by integration firms was clearly evident in the integrator companies I visited. Each quietly went about helping their manufacturer clients solve production problems by designing, building, testing and installing complete or partial automated manufacturing lines and systems. They all appeared to be having success pains: each had recently moved into larger quarters and were quickly filling the new space, and each was finding it difficult to hire all the technical talent they sought.