The factory floor at Yushin America in Cranston is awash with a sea of robots and automation equipment. Engineers intently assemble components pulled from cardboard boxes and packing crates.
The end products range from custom end-of-arm-tooling and individual part-removal robots for injection molding machines to fully integrated factory automation like the contraption that turns a container of red, plastic pellets into a 6-inch-tall toy robot in under a minute.
For 25 years, Yushin has been quietly putting down roots in Rhode Island. It’s the North American headquarters of Japan’s Yushin Precision Equipment Co., one of the world’s largest suppliers of robots for the plastic injection molding industry.
The company is just the latest to be featured in the Rhode Island Foundation's "It's All In Our Backyard" campaign. Through TV, radio, print, billboards and digital ads, the campaign highlights the success stories like Yushin’s that make Rhode Island a lively place to live and work. All the stories are posted on the campaign’s website at ourbackyardri.org.
“The state has a self-esteem problem, so we're changing the way Rhode Islanders talk about their home. Backyard is a fact-based campaign that uses the real stories of real people to remind us of all the good things that are happening here," said Neil Steinberg, the Foundation's president and CEO.
Yushin supplies all of the United States and Mexico from its Cranston headquarters. The 46,000-square-foot facility stocks over $3 million in robot components and parts ready for immediate delivery. A staff of almost 80 employees work there, many hired from area schools like New England Tech, PC and URI.
“We find that the students who come out of Rhode Island colleges are well equipped. As a hiring manager, I know they have the right skill sets. They’re knowledgeable and ready to hit the ground running. They do the job right. They help our company succeed, and that’s why we hire them,” says Operations Manager Mike Greenhalgh.
Because innovation drives product design, new hires must be well prepared in order to be able to pitch in the right way and learn Yushin’s vast product offerings. Their most popular robot series targets the automotive, medical and packaging sectors.
These require robots with high-speed capabilities, energy conservation and high reliability; features that Yushin customers have come to expect. Along with the range of robot offerings, the company specializes in custom end-of-arm-tooling, systems, conveyors and 24/7 customer support. Yushin says its overall business strategy to maintain their standards can be summed up in a few words: superior products, services and reliability.
One example of the company’s commitment to innovation is its side-entry robots. These are designed to sit beside rather than atop molding machines in order to extract parts using the shortest possible stroke. Because the whole mechanism lies beside the mold, there are no items above the mold where dust can cause problems. This makes side entry robots an ideal choice for clean room production lines in the medical and optical sectors, as well as being ideal for installations with low overhead clearance.
To Yushin, part of putting down roots in Rhode Island means giving back to the community. In partnership with the Rhode Island Manufacturing Extension Services and the Community College of Rhode Island, Yushin is creating a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) apprenticeship program.
Tomorrow’s hi-tech manufacturing workers will learn machine shop safety, the basics of CNC machine operations, computer operations, blue print reading and machine tool and prep for intended manufactured parts. The apprenticeship program will help fill the demand for qualified CNC machine operators in Rhode Island.
Yushin is doing everything it can to encourage Rhode Islanders to consider a career in manufacturing. The company even opened its doors for a day to give the public a behind-the-scenes look at manufacturing in the 21st century.
Recent studies show that there are over 600,000 manufacturing jobs unfilled in the United States. Yushin’s Manufacturing Day event welcomed more than 200 visitors from all over Rhode Island – from students to teachers, employment groups, community leaders and potential customers.
The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2013, the Foundation made grants of more than $31 million to organizations addressing the most pressing issues and needs of the state’s diverse communities. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential. For more information, visit www.rifoundation.org.