Published February 17, 2009
Volume 17, Number 2

Adept Technology Moves Robots into High-Tech Surroundings
New Facilities Seen as Key to Creating New Inroads in Solar, Packaging Markets

Adept CEO John Dulchinos with the company’s Quattro robot,
which can inspect solar cells.

By Nicole Zaro Stahl

Hacienda is the “perfect fit” for Adept Technology Inc., the park’s first new tenant of 2009. Having moved into a combined total of 57,000 square feet in two sites on January 1, the robotics pioneer is stepping up its visibility in the technology universe. “We were formerly located in an industrial park,” comments John Dulchinos, who himself moved into the CEO spot in September 2008, after more than two decades with Adept, most recently as President and COO. “Hacienda is a beautiful setting, and we are pleased to be surrounded by so many other high-tech companies.”

Dulchinos works out of the corporate offices and R&D center at 5960 Inglewood Dr. Manufacturing and operations occupy another 23,000 square feet at 5627 Gibraltar Dr. The split enabled Adept to upgrade its headquarters as it sharpens its focus on two distinct targets for its sophisticated robotic systems: the solar and packaging markets. “These industries are very different in concept but they have a common link: the need for high-speed, vision-guided robots, which is what Adept does very well,” notes Dulchinos.

What really makes robots smart, he explains, is the ability to respond to their environment, so if something changes, they can adapt. “When we give the robot vision, it can look at the conveyor belt, find the cookie, pick it up, and put it in the package. In a solar plant, the robot inspects the solar cell to make sure it is defect free before picking it up and placing it in the package. We can do this at very fast rates of speed.”

These attributes align well with the specific demands currently facing each target industry. One of the hurdles for the very promising solar field is its long-term payback, Dulchinos says. Solar cell production costs have to come down to make the technology affordable to most consumers. Because Adept robots can inspect while packaging—“we are the only company to have this capability,” he insists—they can generate those elusive efficiencies that squeeze cost out of the manufacturing process.

The stable, old-line food business is a prime Adept target for other reasons, including the proliferation of multiple packaging formats for a single product. “It doesn’t make sense to have three different production lines” just because of packaging differences, so there is a big push to the flexibility Adept systems offer, Dulchinos points out. The green-influenced drive to use less material has led to an increase in packaging that conforms to the shape of the product, a difficult task for most machines, but not robots. Factor in the potential for contamination in food environments, and sterile packaging robots become even more attractive–especially in meat processing, a sector Adept intends to court once its equipment receives USDA certification later this year.

“Robots cost half of what they used to, and they are now two to three times faster. Combined with the labor savings and market demographics, automated packaging offers a compelling value proposition,” Dulchinos says. “We are in the right place at the right time with the right products to take advantage of these trends.”

The publicly traded company has approximately 150 employees and expects 2009 revenues of roughly $55 million. For more information, visit www.adept.com.


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