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ROBOTIC RESOURCES

What to do in a Recession

by Brian Huse, Director, Marketing & PR, Robotic Industries Association
Robotic Industries Association

Is your company recession proof? Last year wasn’t so bad for some RIA members. Many had big months in the fall even while consumer spending dried up in the broader economy. One industrial cable company had a terrific October as RIA staff learned during a visit prior to the Robotics Industry Forum last year. Other members did well through much of the year, but the prospect of a sinking economy in 2009 was on the minds of most.
It would be a mistake to enter the New Year thinking your company is immune to the market dynamics that comprise a recession. It would also be a mistake to dig a hole and hide until things start to look better. In the next year, some companies will be absorbed by others and some will not make it and some will amaze their rivals with the appearance of strength and agility.
To survive and get stronger, a company should surprise the competition and be ready to grab new business. There are a few proven ways to be in a position of strength.
Training is one essential tactic that should not be overlooked. Operators and supervisors that learn best practices to improve safety and efficiency are valuable assets in any kind of economy. That is at least one lesson of lean manufacturing: efficiency saves money.
Now also is the time turn up the volume about your company. Customers are nervous and don’t want to think too hard about who to do business with. Let them know exactly what makes your company special. Give them facts and good news. Let them hear and read about you – or to put it another way, if you remain silent in the bad times they just might defect to your more visible rivals when it is time to spend.
In the United States of America, Canada and Mexico, it is easy to know which companies are strong in the robotics sector. They belong to Robotic Industries Association. In case you didn’t know, RIA is unique as the only North American trade association devoted solely to robotics.
RIA sponsors the robot safety standard and risk assessment guidelines for compliance and OSHA knows it. RIA holds special training on the RIA/ANSI R15.06-1999 National Robot Safety Standard and this year is increasing the training opportunities. A spring conference will be held for the first time ever in Knoxville, Tennessee, March 23-25. The annual fall robot safety conference is slated for October 26-29 in Detroit, Michigan. Day seminars are scheduled for Long Beach, California (February 4, 2009) and Phoenix, Arizona (March 30, 2009).
In-house training is another service provided by Robotic Industries Association. Topics can be customized and safety training is offered right on your floor where the equipment is used.
More training is offered during a one-of-a-kind event known as the International Robots, Vision & Motion Control Show and Conference, June 9-11, 2009, in Rosemont (Chicago), Illinois.
Your company can benefit two ways from this kind of training. Number one: Your employees learn best practices that protect workers and save money through improved efficiencies. Number two: publicize it! Sell your commitment to safety to your customers – let them know you have the knowledge and ability to help them stay safe and at the forefront of technology.
If you send employees to a training seminar, any training seminar, talk about it. Acknowledge the employees on your website. Issue a press release explaining how the training supports your corporate commitment to excellence. Make sure all your customers get a copy of the release. Make noise this year about the good things you do.
Any strength a company can publicize will sound all that much louder in the ears of customers that are tired of the background noise about weakness in the economy.
Robotic Industries Association is in a strong position to help its members get noticed. Members can now publish unlimited content about their companies on Robotics Online. Any product or service listed on a member site can and should have a page on Robotics Online. Why have one candle when you can have two? And when the second candle is promoted heavily to robot users and others in the industry, the flame burns even brighter. There can be no doubt that a company represented by RIA is a company with a healthy stake in the robotics industry. This is good news any customer can appreciate.
RIA promotes its members by publicizing them. It draws people to Robotics Online through marketing that targets users of flexible automation and robotics. According to Google Analytics, more than 20,000 unique visitors bring their interest and curiosity to Robotics Online each month. They click and drill down to member products and case studies every day, submit RFQs and respond to the ads.
Membership is an affordable and smart way to declare your company’s viability in today’s economy. There are free ads, free tabletops and organized networking events to help you meet and do business with customers.
Some members go even further than others. They publish more information. They contribute time and guidance for RIA initiatives such as the Who’s Who campaign that celebrates top members in the Platinum category. It takes some energy to get the most benefit from RIA membership, but it has its benefits and rewards.
Thanks to the unique attributes of a trade association there are ways to fight a recession. Get training and tell your customers you matter. Publicize your strengths and your commitment to safety. Belong to RIA and be noticed.

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