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Robotic Automation
Cotterman Uses Robotic Automation



In 2011, Cotterman Co. — with four U.S. manufacturing locations located in Croswell, MI; Bakersfield, CA; Dallas, TX and Atlanta, GA — was the recipient of the coveted W.W. Grainger, Inc. Partners in Performance Supplier of the Year Award. According to Nick Valore, Vice President of Cotterman, “Before winning the award, Cotterman was awarded the general performance award for four consecutive years.” Cotterman, a top-performing supplier for Grainger, won the award by delivering a higher qualityfabricated steel rolling ladder product within 48 hours or less.

Valore attributes Cotterman’s success and improvement as a company to the Grainger supplier scorecard measurements. Based on the scorecard, a key initiative for Cotterman was to reduce manufacturing turnaround time and fulfill orders rapidly.

To do this, the company needed to change its manufacturing habits. So, according to Valore, “We had to reduce finished good inventories and make small batches of product  according to the orders received.” Cotterman went from large finished product inventory to zero inventory, creating a just-intime manufacturing process.

Such a change in manufacturing philosophy had both costs and benefits, but ultimately it compelled Valore to seek robotic automation in a unique and creative way. 

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