Try to describe the world of manufacturing in one word. “Exciting” not only provides an accurate depiction, but also provides an industry perspective that Larry Robbins, president -commercial division at SMW Autoblok Corp., has enjoyed every day for 43 years.  Robbins grew up in Northern New Jersey with a father who was in the machine tool industry for 55 years. His father had a rule that he couldn’t work for him until he put time in at a shop, so Robbins took a different path before joining his father.Episode 3 of “The World According To…” offers the manufacturing insight of Robbins, who loves the excitement of an industry that moves at an ever-increasing speed.A Little HistorySMW Autoblok — now renowned as a leader in workholding and chuck systems for turning, grinding, and milling – began in Turin, Italy, in 1942, moving into the U.S. in the early 1970s following a visit to IMTS by President Walter Bronzino. Today, the company’s Wheeling, Illinois, facility enables the company to help customers increase efficiency, productivity, workflow, and profitability. From Boots on the Ground to Wonders in the Sky“The space industry has become a large part of what we do,” Robbins says. “Our work touches everyone from people who work at job shops all the way up to guys landing on the moon.”Robbins feels lucky to have met and maintained a relationship with the former president of SMW Autoblok, Gary Downs. After a casual conversation with Downs, Robbins was hired as a sales manager in 2007.Thriving on Innovation“SMW Autoblok is always trying to improve,” says Robbins. “Customers need higher accuracies, faster speeds, more throughput, more reliability, and if you don't have a product that's flexible, you really do your customers a disservice.” He notes that SMW Autoblok doesn’t force a standardized product into a place where it doesn’t belong. Instead, the company starts with innovative products and then provides innovation in its engineering department to develop customized solutions, such as designing special jaws, locators, and workholding to grip the customer’s part.In addition, technology is moving at a substantially higher speed than when Robbins entered the industry. In fact, when his dad first started going to the IMTS show, it was every five years because there weren’t enough technological advances to justify having it every two years. “I think moving forward, those changes are going to be even more rapid,” says Robbins. As for challenges, a recurring theme surfaces — filling necessary positions.“Due to the skilled labor shortage, we have to come up with ways to automate manufacturing processes,” Robbins says. “Helping companies implement automation is going to become a larger part of what we do in the future.” As an example of Industry 4.0 advances, Robbins points out SMW’s contactless inductive coupler systems that eliminate downtime associated with wear, as well as modify gripping force without unclamping the part and its new e-motion product line that transmits energy and data, contact free, between stationary and moving components via an air gap.Cohesive Horizons: Navigating the FutureRobbins foresees growing segments in aerospace, defense, and electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles.“Space for us is where the future seems to be,” Robbins says. “We’ve worked on some projects in the last year that are doubling the size of this company almost overnight. I also think you're going to see much more deglobalization and much more reshoring. We’re starting to see it now in automotive and more in defense. Our industry is going to get much more cohesive in its ability to interact with people in North America.”As a result, SMW Autoblok is trying to address the next generation of manufacturing in a whole different manner, particularly with their OEM partnerships.“We have to go in and look at a new machine, a new control, a new process, and either provide them with workholding that’s capable of advancing the machine’s capabilities or develop workholding on behalf of that OEM to service their customers better,” Robbins says. “You become a valuable partner, and that’s where partnership really works in our industry.”It All Comes Down to…“The world according to Larry Robbins comes down to excitement,” Robbins says. “I’m excited about the future. I’m excited about where this industry is going, and I'm excited about what's going to happen next. I've been doing this for 43 years, so I still learn something new every day and that’s what keeps me interested in coming back every day and being excited about my job.”Check out the future of workholding by connecting with SMW Autoblok in booth #431617 at IMTS 2024.   
What is the world according to Larry Robbins? The word is “exciting,” and Larry has thrived in the realm of manufacturing for 43 years. To Robbins, manufacturing pulsates with an electrifying energy, driven by rapidly accelerating technologies and a growing sense of cohesion across the industry in North America.