CASE STUDY: How Topcon Solved an “Un-automatable” Challenge

After 10 other automation providers quoted incredibly high prices for integration, Topcon found a true partner. Rapid Robotics delivered a fast solution and helped Topcon automate the impossible.

May 15th, 2023 3 min read

Read the Full Case Study

Like most manufacturers, Topcon Positioning Systems wanted to automate processes to improve efficiency, increase profitability and relieve labor shortages, but the path to deploying robotics was shaping up to be time-consuming and expensive. Traditional robotic automation requires hundreds of thousands of dollars up front to purchase equipment, as well as significant time and money for a systems integrator to program and integrate the robotic arm. In Topcon’s case, they were either quoted a huge sum to automate - $400,000 just to get started - or told that none of their operations could be automated at all. For a  contract manufacturer like Topcon, that kind of capital expense presented too much risk for an unproven solution.

The manufacturing challenges

Topcon Positioning Systems’ Livermore, CA facility was faced with significant challenges and under pressure to adopt automation. Even as operations management looked for ways to grow without expanding their physical footprint, they struggled with labor shortages. In addition, one of their primary products suffered a serious quality rejection rate from an OEM customer. 

Topcon’s products are ubiquitous in the medical, agriculture and construction industries and widely recognized as the ultimate in high quality, precision equipment. Having an OEM customer reject a high number of a top-selling product was unacceptable, but visual quality inspection was time-consuming and difficult for any human to perform accurately. Topcon knew that automation was the clear answer to this problem, but finding a robotics provider with a cost-effective, timely solution was daunting. 

Discovering the right robotics partner for the long-term

While Topcon was searching for a low-cost, effective robotic solution, what they found in the process was something even more valuable: a robotics partner. Rapid Robotics acted like an extension of the Topcon engineering team, walking the factory floor and learning about the challenges the business needed to solve. 

Rapid deployed a custom solution that integrated a Rapid Machine Operator (RMO) with an automated inspection system from Elementary. "We hunted around and looked at so many providers,” said Robert Kennedy, Topcon’s VP of Manufacturing & Logistics. “After 10 or so investigations, none of them made sense. When we came across Rapid, it was a good concept, easy to implement, and low cost thanks to the RaaS model." 

Topcon immediately increased daily output by 25%, reduced cycle time from 12 minutes per unit to 1 minute per unit, and eliminated quality issues. Kennedy said, "Our customers are very particular. But since we put this robot in place, we have not had a single rejection from our OEM."

Want to learn more about how Rapid can help you automate the un-automatable, for a low monthly operating cost? Get in touch for free automation assessment and quote now.


Rapid Robotics Content Team

We're a group of diverse humans who tell anyone who'll listen how Rapid Robotics can make it easy, fast and affordable for manufacturers to start automating. And while we believe in the power of automation and AI, we're real peeps who write every word ourselves!

This website uses cookies
to improve your experience.