The need for industrial automation has never been greater. With the demand for flexibility in production, robotics and other forms of automation have become crucial to success. These technologies are also improving efficiency, accuracy, and safety. The question is no longer ‘if’ but ‘which’ new robotic capabilities will shape the future of manufacturing? This article will cover some of the most relevant developments in industrial robotics that are shaping the future of manufacturing.
The need for automation in manufacturing
As previously mentioned, automation has become crucial to the manufacturing industry, and automation has come a long way since industrial robots were introduced to the market over thirty years ago. For most manufacturers, automation is now essential to survival in the competitive global economy. Most of the technologies discussed here help manufacturers improve efficiency, increase flexibility, and increase safety. But while these technologies improve efficiency and allow manufacturers to produce more products, they are also prone to failure. No new technology will solve this, but businesses that continue to improve their equipment will enjoy lower failure rates and stronger profit margins.
Which new robotic capabilities will shape the future of manufacturing?
This may seem like an odd question, considering that robotics are now core to almost every manufacturing process, even advanced manufacturing processes, like 3D printing. But considering the massive adoption of industrial robotics – there were more than 36,000 robots sold in 2016 – it’s possible that we’re entering a robotic age in which robots will be everywhere. New regulations such as the European Union’s “Robots and Related Systems Directive” are paving the way for regulatory bodies to enforce rules and specifications to limit risk to humans when robots interact with people and objects. The rise of the ‘internet of things’ is making it increasingly easy for robots to connect to each other and other devices.
Automation with cobots
The cobot market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8 percent through 2025, and currently constitutes only around 2 percent of industrial robots. Cobots are collaborative robots that work alongside humans. Cobots do not require sophisticated software and hardware. Instead, they are highly capable machines which are controlled by a human operator via a machine interface. Cobots are usually used for specific tasks, and once complete, they automatically return to their starting location. This requires that human and robot work seamlessly together. Cobots are gaining popularity due to their ability to increase the efficiency of manufacturing operations. This is done by increasing worker safety and efficiency.
Palletization with Robots
Palletizing is the process of sorting, stacking and packaging products into a uniform group, or pallet. Palletizing Systems are used to automate this process. They are usually made up of an automated material handling system and a series of robots that carry out the palletization. Most robotic Palletizing Systems operate on an “XYZ” axis which consists of three parallel rails (or conveyors) that allow for a combination of two or more robot arms to be moved in any direction, giving them the ability to pick, assemble, and stack individual product pieces onto larger skids. Here’s what you need to know about robotic Palletizing Systems before buying one.
Automated guided vehicles
Automated guided vehicles are widely used in industrial environments to provide both logistical and logistical support, much in the same way a bus would be used. They are also used in warehouses and distribution centres as they increase efficiency, allow for more accessible storage space, and provide a more consistent distribution of goods. However, the technology is now improving. They are now gaining more autonomy and are being able to accomplish more complex tasks. This includes responding to cues and moving freely without the need for a driver. With more autonomy, these vehicles are able to work across a wider range of environments, reducing logistics costs and increasing efficiency. These vehicles are also becoming more affordable.
Integration Robotic with machine vision
Robots are traditionally used in factories to perform repetitive and manual tasks, but machine vision systems are changing this paradigm. Machine vision is an emerging capability that allows robots to view the physical world and interact with it as well as guide the robot in its interaction with human beings. Machine vision systems are also great for handling interactions with the physical world because it provides physical protection for a robot to avoid people and objects. The technology can also be used for visual navigation of complex, irregular, and enclosed environments, helping a robot explore a new terrain, automate pick-and-place processes, or aid in dangerous environments where an open environment would be dangerous.
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