Industrial robotics and automation are the pillars that have made possible the consolidation of Industry 4.0, in addition to bringing many benefits to the productivity and efficiency of production resources.
The different models of industrial automation that are being implemented today eliminate the subjective factor of human decisions, achieving lower margins of error and more precise processes, while freeing human labor from repetitive or dangerous tasks.
Countless manufacturers use industrial robots to automate tasks, improve worker safety and increase overall production, while reducing waste and operating costs. With the increasing prevalence of industrial robots in manufacturing environments, there has been a growing demand for many different types of industrial robots to suit specific applications and industries.
What are industrial robots?
Industrial robots are mechanical devices that, to some extent, replicate human movements. They are used whenever it is necessary to reduce danger to a human, provide more force or precision than a human, or when continuous operation is required. Most robots are stationary, but some move around the workplace delivering materials and supplies.
Industrial robotics is used to perform highly accurate and repeatable tasks that result in higher quality products. The ability of industrial robots to work continuously without rest is helping manufacturers increase production. In addition, robots can work in hazardous and noxious environments, improving working conditions and plant safety. Therefore, the various advantages of industrial robots are encouraging manufacturers to integrate different types of industrial robots into their production line to increase the efficiency and profitability of the plant, i.e. the technological maturity.
Industries using industrial robotics
Industrial robotics in the health industry
Advances in robotics have the potential to change a wide variety of health care practices, including surgery, rehabilitation, therapy, patient companionship, and activities of daily living. Robotic tools used in healthcare are not designed to take over the tasks of healthcare professionals, but to make their work easier.
Industrial robotics is being used in many aspects of manufacturing to help increase productivity and efficiency and reduce production costs. As in the healthcare industry, many robots in manufacturing collaborate with workers to perform repetitive, monotonous or intricate tasks under the guidance and control of the worker. With these machines, accuracy is valued more than speed, as is the ability to be reprogrammed for specific tasks of varying size and complexity.
Robotic manufacturing technology is also becoming safer to operate. Cameras, sensors and automatic shutdown capabilities allow robots to detect and keep away from humans in the workplace.
Automation in Agriculture
To help increase productivity while reducing overall costs, the agricultural industry has actively worked to adopt different forms of robotic technology. Farmers have already been using tractors and combines that are guided by GPS. Recently, there has been an increase in the experimental use of autonomous systems that automate operations such as pruning, thinning, mowing, spraying and weeding. Sensor technology is also being used to manage pests and diseases affecting crops.
One of the most extravagant advances in robotic technology will soon be available in the kitchen. Smart, automated robots will be able to prepare and cook hundreds of meals in a home kitchen. These “robotic chefs” will be controlled via a smart phone, and once the controller chooses a recipe and arranges pre-packaged containers with cut and prepared ingredients, the robot will be able to cook the pre-determined meal quickly and efficiently.
Industrial robotics in public safety
In the military and public safety sectors, robotic technology is being applied in many areas. One of the most visible areas is that of unmanned drones. These machines can be used for surveillance and support operations on the battlefield. Military drones flying over war and conflict zones, in hostage situations and for natural and man-made disasters are capable of assessing danger levels and providing soldiers and first responders with real-time information.
Robotic devices are already establishing a widespread presence in several commercial industries. As robotic technologies become more affordable, they will soon be available in various forms to consumers as well, with the ability to impact our lives in countless ways.
Future of Industrial Robotics
Industry 4.0 will play an increasingly important role in global manufacturing. As obstacles such as system complexity and data incompatibility are overcome, manufacturers will integrate robots into factory-wide machine and system networks. Robot manufacturers are already developing and marketing new service models: these are based on real-time data collected by sensors connected to the robots.
Analysts predict a rapidly growing market for cloud-based robotics in which data from one robot is compared with data from other robots in the same or different locations. The network allows these connected robots to perform the same activities. This will be used to optimize the robot’s motion parameters, such as speed, angle or force. Ultimately, the advent of large data in manufacturing could redefine the boundaries of the industry between equipment manufacturers and manufacturers.
Future trend: small and medium-sized manufacturers will automate
Some manufacturers of industrial robotics are also considering leasing models, in particular to accelerate adoption by small and medium-sized manufacturers. Simplification is a key trend for this segment of the market. The continuing need for robots that are easier to use and program, and the growing need for increasingly flexible automation, has initiated the development of smarter solutions.
This is especially useful for industries that lack specialized production engineers in their facilities. It is therefore important to provide user-friendly robots that can be easily integrated and operated in standard production processes. User-friendly robots will enable the deployment of industrial robots in many industries to support efficient and flexible manufacturing.
Today’s industrial robots have improved the working time and quality of some products in large factories, but they have also helped man in some tasks that are highly dangerous, leaving the work to a mechanical arm. The companies that bet on automation and industrial robotics will provide a great variety of benefits.
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