Episode 8
David Dieter, Beau Wileman, and Tim Stellmacher
PBC Linear

At the A3 Business Forum in Orlando last week, Manufacturing Matters host Winn Hardin met with representatives from PBC Linear and Applied Cobotics. PBC Linear President David Dieter and VP of sales Tim Stellmacher, along with Director of Applied Cobotics Beau Wileman, talk about the upcoming PBC Linear 40th anniversary celebration, the US made small diameter ball screw line, and the new Cobot Feeder from Applied Cobotics, along with the company’s existing Simplicity bearing product line and range of Hevi-Rail products. If you’re heading to the SLAS show in San Diego at the end of February, stop by Booth 2212 and see for yourself!

Episode 8 – David Deiter, Beau Wileman, and Tim Stellmacher from PBC Linear: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

Episode 8 – David Deiter, Beau Wileman, and Tim Stellmacher from PBC Linear: this mp4 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Winn Hardin:
Hello, everybody. This is Winn Hardin and we're at Manufacturing Matters and we're recording a live episode here at the A3 Business Forum in Orlando, Florida. Today, I'm with a few representatives of PBC, Linear and Applied Cobotics. I'm sitting next to I've got David Deiter to my right here, who is I'm sorry, president of PBC Linear got Beau Wileman, who is the director of Applied Cobotics, and Tim Stellmacher, who is director of sales at PBC Linear. Thanks for joining me today, guys. I really appreciate it. Happy to be.

Beau Wileman:
Here. Thanks for having us.

Winn Hardin:
Fantastic. So I'm still getting to know PBC Linear a little bit. I was wondering if, David, you might be able to kick us off and tell us a little bit about the motion control solutions you guys. Absolutely.

David Deiter:
This year, 2023 is actually our 40th anniversary of being in business. So PBC Linear founded in 1983 by Bob Schrader and the Schrader family that owns it today. So it's privately owned business. We are in the motion control industry. We provide components and mechatronics for motion control applications, a lot of B2B stuff, right? So a lot of solutions that we've evolved over time and we're going to talk a little bit about some of the components that are that we sell today is also what we are going to be releasing new. It's exciting. We're we're really excited about our future.

Winn Hardin:
That's very cool. So I look forward to hearing about what's latest in Motion control you. Tim, why don't you lay on for us? What are some of those product lines and what are the specialties?

Tim Stellmacher:
Yeah, absolutely. So we're it's an exciting time here at PBC. We are going to be introducing our small diameter Ballscrew line at the show, which is at the end of February. So down in San Diego. In San Diego, correct. Fantastic. So six, eight, ten millimeter small diameter ball screw us made, which is rare and we're excited about it is also a product that's going to be from stock and be able to get in a hurry. So lab automation is that particular show, so medical field, that type of thing. We're also excited just to, you know, to push our standard lines of simplicity bearings, which is the core of the business. When you go back 40 years, that's where we started. That's what we that's what we did, right. And it's still the base of our business. So we continue to push that. We're also excited about our heavy rail product, which is just a it's a product that when you get into those heavy applications, it's a very unique product to us and nobody else has it. So from from, you know, kind of bottom to top, we have the most diverse line in the bearing industry and it's exciting.

Winn Hardin:
Fantastic. Do you also do some of the actuation on that? A little bit? We do.

Tim Stellmacher:
Absolutely. So, yeah, we have you know, we go from just the bearing to full systems that include a motor belt driven ball, screw driven. Now, you know, so yes, we, we have a wide range.

David Deiter:
I would add that we're heavily vertically integrated too. Very innovative processes. We have over 40 years have had to instill a lot of automation processes because the founder and the family have all been innovative in nature and it's really the backbone of our business. So from a lot of things that we have learned, we not only process but also into the products that we make day in and day out. So, you know, I've been in the motion control industry myself bringing some of that knowledge and previous leading previous businesses, and I'm really excited about the future with it. And, you know, the ball screws the next thing that we're we're adding on with the lead screw. So we're, you know, screw is one of the areas that we have a lot of focus and definition going forward.

Winn Hardin:
That's fantastic. That's that's great. Now as I look and I know we got some more even more advanced innovations from the applied robotics side, we're going to talk about, if I could, real quick, I know that as I looked at PBC linear com, which is a heck of a website, if you guys haven't visited it recently, it's very easy to find information and components that these guys provide, which I think has been a big engine of what they've their success over the last 40 years in the Chicagoland area. I noticed that some of the applications that you guys go in for are food and beverage. I noticed that there's lab automation. Tim You mentioned that earlier packaging is important to you, some medical, medical instrumentation and devices also. So that means that you guys are really into precision components as well as rugged components and things that can stand up to not just our standard industrial processes, but wash downs and, you know, can maintain that surface hardness, texture and precision.

Tim Stellmacher:
So yeah, it's, I mean, it's an exciting product because really we're in many industries, you know, here at three, they've just talked about agriculture, which in my prior company was a kind of where I was at. So I dealt with John Deere a lot. And the fact that, you know, agriculture is you're thinking corn and it's becoming more and more automated and they need a product like the Pacific bearing, you know, liner no, no grease, you know, out in the field. That's something that they can, you know, put in and forget, which is a is a great thing.

Winn Hardin:
I'll tell you, for me, agriculture is just one of. The most exciting markets I know you think about. Although I love farms myself. Spent some time in Nebraska when I was a younger man. So but just the automation of that. Harvesters are highly specialized and automated pieces of equipment already. But when we can get to resource management, limiting water, using fewer pesticides, better yields and productivity, using robots, imaging all these various automation systems, that's pretty exciting too. So you guys have weathered the storm and everything else really well. You know, you've been able to maintain an upward trajectory for decades now. I understand that there were some really interesting ways that you were able to apply new technologies at PBC linear to keep up with demand. Do you want to tell us a bit about that?

Beau Wileman:
Absolutely. So that's, you know, going into 2020, the pandemic hit and a lot of our workforce is right at the edge of that retirement age. So right when it hit, a lot of them took that early retirement, got out well, you know, before everything was to shut down. And that left a huge gap in our business. So our owner invested in something like 2025 Cobots to fill those gaps and get everything set up. But when we did that, we noticed even though we had the cobots there, we were still running into issues with the parts being fed to the Cobots and the Cobots running, right? So they'd run as long as someone was there to feed them. But that was kind of defeating the purpose of, you know, solving that pain, of not having those workers, right? So we had to really kind of create our own ways, using our own, you know, linear motion components to kind of bridge that gap, right? So that's kind of where the applied robotics brand came from. Our new system, the Cobot Feeder, is our owner posed a challenge to get cobots running longer, right? And so some of the engineers on the team put together this rough prototype using some of our components, and it started working perfectly.

Winn Hardin:
Outstanding, outstanding. And you know, it's an interesting point. It's not about it's not about replacing workers. It's about keeping up with the growth of automation demands and the marketplace. You know, I mean, 40 years of doing it the hard way, working hard every single day is still what you guys are doing and always will be. Pbc has a fantastic facility again right outside Chicago, near Schaumburg. I think you're not too far from that Rockford area.

David Deiter:
Rockford area.

Winn Hardin:
Rockford. So but, you know, there's just not machinists and good assemblers. They're just not falling off trees, you know? And so as I understand it and correct me if I'm wrong, well, the Cobot feeder itself, in addition to being able to run a little bit lights out, so on shifts where you may not have people on, does it also offer the opportunity for one experienced machinist to maybe supervise more systems?

Beau Wileman:
Absolutely, yeah. It's something you set up at the beginning of your shift and then walk away, maybe reset it, refill some parts at the end of the shift, and then come back in the morning and you have all those parts ready for you. Wow.

Tim Stellmacher:
You know, in the end, it makes that job more exciting because it's not, you know, I don't have to feed that. That backbreaking part of my job is not there anymore. So now I can go and I can, like you said, oversee five machines, no back breaking. But I'm excited to do it. I'm excited to get up and go to work because of it.

Winn Hardin:
So with unemployment at all time lows, we are all competing for that labor workforce. So if you've got a good culture and technology and we don't talk enough about that, technology is something that really can up a company's game and visibility, you know, help attract the workers and the good workers and keep the ones that you have happy. And with new challenges, growth potential, that's fantastic. So how do you handle product turnover? Is the is the Cobot feeder? I believe that's the name that you guys have chosen. Yep. It's got a pretty flexible solution. Do we have to do a lot of machining to enable a new, you know, a new blank or.

Beau Wileman:
No, We we work well with high mix or high volume. You load up the system and it's got 17 individual trays. Gotcha. So I mean, say you're running tray one through ten with part A and the other ones with another part. You really just have to set it up, let it go. And as long as your cobot is able to, you know, have the variations in your program, you can run whatever parts you want with no turnover time. That's outstanding. One value we provide with it as well is we custom form these molds. So any part you can throw at us, we can create a mold for you. And you know it'll work perfectly with our system, right?

Tim Stellmacher:
Some of the feedback that we're getting from the trade shows is that flexibility is extremely important and also the footprint, the fact that you can take our unit and be able to not move other machines within their plant, you can it's got a small footprint. The it can hold over a thousand parts at times. So, you know, when we were at Imts, people were coming and they were like, that footprint is amazing because we're able to put that right next to our machine without moving anything, anything else. And all of a sudden we're lights out. So. Right. The flexibility of it is. And the the footprint.

Winn Hardin:
I know there's a few solutions out in that space that are, you know, large engineered, very expensive. You know, it's my understanding that yours is a much mobile, much more mobile mobile cost effective and flexible solution, which is fantastic for that small and medium. Sounds great to me. Machine shop, right. Where as you said, you've got the machines all in a row and the configuration don't have a lot of extra real estate. So we can move, we can move this this feeder system around very quickly and easily and serve lots of different jobs. Yeah. How fast can you turn around a new a new mold or a new nest for a new part?

Beau Wileman:
If it's the first time we're doing it. I mean, we we've gotten pretty quick at it. It's a day or two to make the mold, get it over to the customer, form as many trays as they need. So it's a pretty quick process. And for customers going from job to job within their system, I mean, the Cobots are already so great at storing that program in the data and calling upon it whenever it needs to. That I mean, as long as you can switch out the tooling in your machine, you're good to go. I mean, that's your limiting factor is your machine. But yeah.

Winn Hardin:
And you it's your plan to be robotic agnostic, I think, if I understand correctly. Yes. So what do we have APIs for right now? What's our what's our current compatibility?

Beau Wileman:
Well currently anything that can plug into it with a few discrete I o so. Right. Just about anything. Beautiful.

Winn Hardin:
Beautiful. I think I heard that you were you were at a launch. You were going to be working a little bit with universal robots. Yes. Which is of course the leader in the marketplace. I mean, if you're going to go go big, that's for sure. So that's that's wonderful. And a really trusted solution, too.

Tim Stellmacher:
Yeah, They've been a great partner so far with us. We're getting close to being certified in just the partnership that we have a cobot that, that we have the shows and they've helped us along and their knowledge has been great. So they've been a great partner. And and you.

David Deiter:
See them today, they're focused on expanding their machine tending market, you know, the market share. So there's a working with them to help ensure that we integrate the software and and they've been a great partner so far. We're really excited about it this spring. And the Q one, we're going to be at that point that we're going to be working very closely with them and pushing this solution into their their distribution channel. So.

Winn Hardin:
You know, it seems to me that well, actually, let me just pose this question back to you, Beau. So Cobot feeder is going to come out this year. It's going to really be a fantastic tool in the toolbox for getting more productivity at work. So probably sounds like machine tending is kind of a first. The first app that we're going to focus on.

Beau Wileman:
Yeah, big pain point for people. So that's a great place for us to start.

Winn Hardin:
Yeah. Bls Bureau of Labor Statistics has said that there's just tens of thousands of unfilled machinist positions that are going to be unfilled over the next five, ten years. So it's not really a question of whether this would be nice to have. It's this is a need to have it is for a lot of small shops who want to stay active.

David Deiter:
Yeah. I mean, the idea is to solve the pain because that pain is not going to be going away any time soon and let alone sell the value of it, let alone from an ROI calculation and what it can bring from an efficiency standpoint on labor and capacity being able to be out lights out all night long. But the idea of solving that pain, it's hard. That's that's what we struggled with in 2020 was not having enough operators that were trained. And it's not easy to do and just not having the people. So again, it goes back to that original theme about PBC. Linear is the innovation that's within the company. It's the best I've ever seen in any company I've been a part of. And I've and it's just unique. So we built it for ourselves and now we're commercializing it. So we're really excited about it.

Winn Hardin:
Fantastic. That's fantastic. So I know you don't want to share too much of the future product roadmap, right? Dave But I was wondering, can you give us maybe some insights? What's next? I mean, you see F comes out, we're going to be marketing that. You guys are going to be marketing that early in this year. But but what's the next step? What can we expect in its future product innovation?

David Deiter:
You know, we'll go to 2.0. That's that's on the on the table, right. In early discussions, The biggest thing that I think we have challenge with right now is, you know, we have a limited amount of resources. If you look down the road at what we're doing and where this is and solving that pain out there, working with you are the potential is is amazing. It's just it's unbelievable. I think about it and it just, you know, I'm just smiling, just thinking about it. It's for us. For PBC, we only have so much resources to to capture that opportunity. So what we're also looking for is, is to talking to potential partners that might be able to want to jump in and partner up with us, help us to gather some of these resources that we need so we could really accelerate our ability to get to market and really get more market share here. There's just a ton of potential here. We're really excited about it and we're looking to see if we can find other partners that want to get on board with us.

Winn Hardin:
That's fantastic. And this will be under the applied robotics. We're thinking applied robotics.

David Deiter:
Brand PVC, linear has has had various brands. 3d is another one. If you look at 3D, it's a. Another example of innovation being commercialized. Applied robotics is another innovation being commercialized. Right. So and Lee Lanier is another one of our brands, but applied robotics, that's that's the brand that's going to really take us in the future along with our core product today. So we're extremely excited about it.

Winn Hardin:
I that's a bright future. I mean, I remember a stat I heard not too long ago is somewhere like 24 to 25,000 new CNC machines going every year into the marketplace, you know, and the bulk of those have to be the smaller to medium size units, you know, not total vertical machine systems centers. But but although this might have applicability there too, depending on the layout. So that's fantastic. That's really cool. Well, I can't look, I look forward maybe, you know, this summer when automate comes around, we can have another conversation real quick, see see what the progress has been made at that time and hear more about two point 0.0 or 2.

David Deiter:
Point some more definition. At that point.

Tim Stellmacher:
We will be there and we're looking forward to that show. So we will.

Winn Hardin:
Be to look. Really forward to it. Thanks, guys. Thanks for joining some manufacturing matters and until the next episode, make sure that manufacturing matters to you and everyone around you. See you soon.

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Winn Hardin: [00:00:06] Hello, everybody. This is Winn Hardin and we’re at Manufacturing Matters and we’re recording a live episode here at the A3 Business Forum in Orlando, Florida. Today I’m with a few representatives of PBC Linear and Applied Cobotics. I’ve got David Dieter to my right here, who is president of PBC Linear, got Beau Wileman, who is the director of Applied Cobotics, and Tim Stellmacher, who is director of sales at PBC Linear. Thanks for joining me today guys. I really appreciate it.

Beau Wileman: [00:00:33] Happy to be here. Thanks for having us.

Winn Hardin: [00:00:35] Fantastic. So I’m still getting to know PBC Linear a little bit. I was wondering if, David, you might be able to kick us off and tell us a little bit about the motion control solutions you guys have.

David Dieter: [00:00:45] Absolutely. This year, 2023, is actually our 40th anniversary of being in business. So PBC Linear founded in 1983 by Bob Schrader and the Schrader family that owns it today. So it’s a privately owned business. We are in the motion control industry. We provide components and mechatronics for motion control applications, a lot of B2B stuff, right? So a lot of solutions that we’ve evolved over time, and we’re going to talk a little bit about some of the components that we sell today and  also what we are going to be releasing new. It’s exciting. We’re really excited about our future.

Winn Hardin: [00:01:19] That’s very cool. So I look forward to hearing about what’s latest in motion control. Tim, why don’t you lay it on for us. What are some of those product lines and what are the specialties?

Tim Stellmacher: [00:01:27] Yeah, absolutely. So it’s an exciting time here at PBC. We are going to be introducing our small-diameter ball screw line at the SLAS show, which is at the end of February. In San Diego. So 6-, 8-, 10-millimeter, small-diameter ball screw, U.S. made, which is rare, and we’re excited about. It is also a product that’s going to be from stock and you’ll be able to get in a hurry. So lab automation is that particular show, so medical field, that type of thing. We’re also excited just to push our standard lines of simplicity bearings, which is the core of the business. When you go back 40 years, that’s where we started. That’s what we did. And it’s still the base of our business. So we continue to push that. We’re also excited about our heavy rail product. It’s a product that when you get into those heavy applications, it’s a very unique product to us and nobody else has it. So from bottom to top, we have the most diverse line in the bearing industry, and it’s exciting.

Winn Hardin: [00:02:42] Fantastic. Do you also do some of the actuation on that a little bit?

Tim Stellmacher: [00:02:45] We do. Absolutely. So we go from just the bearing to full systems that include a motor, belt-driven ball, screw-driven. So yes, we have a wide range.

David Dieter: [00:02:59] I would add that we’re heavily vertically integrated too. Very innovative processes. We have, over 40 years, have had to instill a lot of automation processes because the founder and the family have all been innovative in nature, and it’s really the backbone of our business. So a lot of things that we have learned, we not only put into the process but also into the products that we make day in and day out. So I’ve been in the motion control industry myself, bringing some of that knowledge and leading previous businesses, and I’m really excited about the future with it. And the ball screw is the next thing that we’re adding on, with the lead screw. So screw is one of the areas that we have a lot of focus and definition going forward.

Winn Hardin: [00:03:41] That’s fantastic. That’s great. Now, and I know we’ve got even more advanced innovations from the Applied Cobotics side we’re going to talk about, if I could, real quick, as I looked at PBCLinear.com, which is a heck of a website if you guys haven’t visited it recently. It’s very easy to find information and components that these guys provide, which I think has been a big engine of their success over the last 40 years in the Chicagoland area. I noticed that some of the applications that you guys go in for are food and beverage. I noticed that there’s lab automation. Tim, you mentioned that earlier. Packaging is important to you, some medical, medical instrumentation and devices also. So that means that you guys are really into precision components as well as rugged components and things that can stand up to not just our standard industrial processes but washdowns and can maintain that surface hardness, texture, and precision.

Tim Stellmacher: [00:04:31] It’s an exciting product because really we’re in many industries. Here at A3 they’ve just talked about agriculture, which in my prior company was kind of where I was at. So I dealt with John Deere a lot. And agriculture — you’re thinking corn — and it’s becoming more and more automated, and they need a product like the Pacific bearing. Liner, no grease, out in the field. That’s something that they can put in and forget, which is a great thing.

Winn Hardin: [00:05:03] For me, agriculture is just one of the most exciting markets you think about. I love farms myself. Spent some time in Nebraska when I was a younger man. Just the automation of that. Harvesters are highly specialized and automated pieces of equipment already. But when we can get to resource management, limiting water, using fewer pesticides, better yields and productivity, using robots, imaging, all these various automation systems, that’s pretty exciting too. So you guys have weathered the COVID storm and everything else really well. You’ve been able to maintain an upward trajectory for decades now. I understand that there were some really interesting ways that you were able to apply new technologies at PBC Linear to keep up with demand. Do you want to tell us a bit about that?

Beau Wileman: [00:05:47] Absolutely. So going into 2020, the pandemic hit, and a lot of our workforce is right at the edge of that retirement age. So right when it hit, a lot of them took that early retirement, got out before everything was too shut down. And that left a huge gap in our business. So our owner invested in something like 2025 cobots to fill those gaps and get everything set up. But when we did that, we noticed even though we had the cobots there, we were still running into issues with the parts being fed to the cobots and the cobots running. So they’d run as long as someone was there to feed them. But that was kind of defeating the purpose of solving that pain of not having those workers. So we had to create our own ways, using our own linear motion components to bridge that gap. So that’s where the Applied Cobotics brand came from. Our new system the Cobot Feeder. Our owner posed a challenge to get cobots running longer. And so some of the engineers on the team put together this rough prototype using some of our components, and it started working perfectly.

Winn Hardin: [00:07:01] Outstanding, outstanding. And it’s an interesting point. It’s not about replacing workers. It’s about keeping up with the growth of automation demands and the marketplace. Forty years of doing it the hard way, working hard every single day is still what you guys are doing and always will be. PBC has a fantastic facility right outside Chicago, near Schaumburg. I think you’re not too far from the Rockford area.

David Dieter: [00:07:26] Rockford area.

Winn Hardin: [00:07:27] But there’s just not — machinists and good assemblers — they’re just not falling off trees. And so as I understand it, and correct me if I’m wrong, the Cobot Feeder itself, in addition to being able to run a little bit lights-out, so on shifts where you may not have people on, does it also offer the opportunity for one experienced machinist to maybe supervise more systems?

Beau Wileman: [00:07:52] Absolutely, yeah. It’s something you set up at the beginning of your shift and then walk away, maybe reset it, refill some parts at the end of the shift and then come back in the morning and you have all those parts ready for you.

Tim Stellmacher: [00:08:04] In the end, it makes that job more exciting because I don’t have to feed that. That backbreaking part of my job is not there anymore. So now I can go and I can, like you said, oversee five machines, no backbreaking. But I’m excited to do it. I’m excited to get up and go to work because of it.

Winn Hardin: [00:08:20] So with unemployment at all-time lows, we are all competing for that labor workforce. So if you’ve got a good culture and technology, and we don’t talk enough about that, technology is something that really can up a company’s game and visibility, help attract the workers, and good workers, and keep the ones that you have happy. And with new challenges, growth potential, that’s fantastic. So how do you handle product turnover? Is the Cobot Feeder — I believe that’s the name that you guys have chosen — is that a pretty flexible solution? Do we have to do a lot of machining to enable a new blank or . . .

Beau Wileman: [00:08:54] No, we work well with high mix or high volume. You load up the system and it’s got 17 individual trays. Say you’re running trays 1 through 10 with part A and the other ones with another part. You really just have to set it up, let it go. And as long as your cobot is able to have the variations in your program, you can run whatever parts you want with no turnover time. One value we provide with it as well is we custom-form these molds. So any part you can throw at us, we can create a mold for you. And it’ll work perfectly with our system.

Tim Stellmacher: [00:09:31] Some of the feedback that we’re getting from the trade shows is that flexibility is extremely important and also the footprint, the fact that you can take our unit and be able to not move other machines within their plant. It’s got a small footprint. It can hold over 1,000 parts at times. So when we were at IMTS, people were coming and they were like, “That footprint is amazing because we’re able to put that right next to our machine without moving anything else. And all of a sudden we’re lights-out.” So the flexibility of it is huge, and the footprint.

Winn Hardin: [00:10:07] I know there are a few solutions out in that space that are large engineered, very expensive. It’s my understanding that yours is a much more mobile, cost-effective, and flexible solution, which is fantastic for that small and medium machine shop, where, as you said, you’ve got the machines all in a row and in configuration, don’t have a lot of extra real estate. So we can move this feeder system around very quickly and easily and serve lots of different jobs. How fast can you turn around a new a new mold or a new nest for a new part?

Beau Wileman: [00:10:42] If it’s the first time we’re doing it, we’ve gotten pretty quick at it. It’s a day or two to make the mold, get it over to the customer, form as many trays as they need. So it’s a pretty quick process. And for customers going from job to job within their system, the cobots are already so great at storing that program in the data and calling upon it whenever it needs to. As long as you can switch out the tooling in your machine, you’re good to go. That’s your limiting factor is your machine.

Winn Hardin: [00:11:11] And it’s your plan to be robotic agnostic, I think, if I understand correctly. So what do we have APIs for right now? What’s our current compatibility?

Beau Wileman: [00:11:20] Well currently anything that can plug into it with a few discrete I/Os. Just about anything.

Winn Hardin: [00:11:27] Beautiful. I heard that you were at a launch. You were going to be working a little bit with Universal Robots. Which is of course the leader in the cobot marketplace. I mean, if you’re going to go, go big, that’s for sure. So that’s wonderful. And a really trusted solution too.

Tim Stellmacher: [00:11:43] Yeah, they’ve been a great partner so far with us. We’re getting close to being certified in just the partnership. That we have a cobot, that we have the shows, and they’ve helped us along, and their knowledge has been great. So they’ve been a great partner.

David Dieter: [00:11:58] And you see them today, they’re focused on expanding their machine tending market, the market share. So there’s working with them to help ensure that we integrate the software, and they’ve been a great partner so far. We’re really excited about it this spring. And the Q1, we’re going to be at that point that we’re going to be working very closely with them and pushing this solution into their distribution channel.

Winn Hardin: [00:12:23] Let me just pose this question back to you, Beau. So Cobot Feeder is going to come out this year. It’s going to really be a fantastic tool in the toolbox for getting more productivity at cobot work cells. So it probably sounds like machine tending is the first app that we’re going to focus on.

Beau Wileman: [00:12:40] Yeah, big pain point for people. So that’s a great place for us to start.

Winn Hardin: [00:12:44] Bureau of Labor Statistics has said that there’s just tens of thousands of unfilled machinist positions that are going to be unfilled over the next five, 10 years. So it’s not really a question of whether this would be nice to have. This is a need-to-have for a lot of small shops who want to stay active.

David Dieter: [00:13:01] The idea is to solve the pain because that pain is not going to be going away anytime soon, and let alone sell the value of it, let alone from an ROI calculation and what it can bring from an efficiency standpoint on labor and capacity, being able to be lights-out all night long. But the idea of solving that pain. It’s hard. That’s what we struggled with in 2020 was not having enough operators that were trained. And it’s not easy to do. And just not having the people. So again, it goes back to that original theme about PBC Linear. It’s the innovation that’s within the company. It’s the best I’ve ever seen in any company I’ve been a part of. It’s just unique. So we built it for ourselves, and now we’re commercializing it. So we’re really excited about it.

Winn Hardin: [00:13:43] That’s fantastic. So I know you don’t want to share too much of the future product roadmap, right Dave, but can you give us some insights? What’s next? Your CF comes out. We’re going to be marketing that. You guys are going to be marketing that early in this year. But what’s the next step? What can we expect in its future?

David Dieter: [00:14:01] Product innovation. You know, we’ll go to 2.0. That’s on the table, in early discussions. The biggest thing that I think we have a challenge with right now is we have a limited amount of resources. If you look down the road at what we’re doing and where this is and solving that pain out there, working with UR, the potential is amazing. It’s just unbelievable. I think about it, and I’m just smiling just thinking about it. For PBC, we only have so much resources to capture that opportunity. So what we’re also looking for is talking to potential partners that might be able to want to jump in and partner up with us, help us to gather some of these resources that we need so we could really accelerate our ability to get to market and really get more market share here. There’s just a ton of potential here. We’re really excited about it, and we’re looking to see if we can find other partners that want to get on board with us.

Winn Hardin: [00:14:53] That’s fantastic. And this will be under Applied Cobotics? We’re thinking Applied Robotics brand?

David Dieter: [00:14:58] PBC Linear has had various brands; 3DP is another one. If you look at 3DP, it’s another example of innovation being commercialized. Applied Cobotics is another innovation being commercialized. And Lee Linear is another one of our brands. But Applied Robotics, that’s the brand that’s going to really take us in the future along with our core product today. So we’re extremely excited about it.

Winn Hardin: [00:15:22] That’s a bright future. I remember a stat I heard not too long ago is somewhere like 24,000 to 25,000 new CNC machines going every year into the marketplace, and the bulk of those have to be the smaller to medium-size units, not total vertical machine systems, centers, although this might have applicability there too, depending on the layout. So that’s fantastic. That’s really cool. Well, I look forward this summer, when Automate comes around, we can have another conversation real quick, see what the progress has been made at that time, and hear more about 2.0.

David Dieter: [00:15:56] We’ll have some more definition at that point.

Tim Stellmacher: [00:15:58] We will be there, and we’re looking forward to that show.

Winn Hardin: [00:16:01] Really looking forward to it. Thanks, guys. Thanks for joining on Manufacturing Matters, and until the next episode, make sure that manufacturing matters to you and everyone around you. See you soon.