If you look at the use of robots today, what would the market penetration look like in India and globally?
India’s manufacturing sector is growing year-on-year as its people take a step in the direction of Industry 4.0. The benefits of cobots include a small footprint, ease of operation, deployment within a few minutes that can be in almost any application and their ability to serve as tools that enable humans to optimise their performance at work. Once set, they can be deployed with minimal to no human intervention in utmost safety.
What is the greatest challenge facing the global robotics industry today?
One of the challenges that the global robotics industry faces is the high capital expenditure associated with acquiring this technology that can only be used for a certain hardwired application. Cobots counter this challenge as they can easily be re-programmed and re-equipped with a wide selection of endeffectors and supplementary equipment to meet the changing needs of the enterprise. As they do not need to be pegged down in a designated location, they can be re-deployed virtually anywhere in the company’s operational grounds.
What do you think about robot malfunctions in a factory? How frequent are the incidences and what are the possible reasons?
The frequency of incidents depends on different cases and there can be a multitude of reasons for the same. The most common issue faced is that when the standard pattern is changed, a process can easily take several days, which can result in the robots hitting obstacles. This is caused by process variability, in which robots cannot recognise objects in their way or due to improper programming.
Can a robot self-diagnose a malfunction and avoid causing any damage? What role can the human play here?
Each cobot records event logs of the performance of its tasks that are automatically connected to cloud-based platforms to track the cobot’s work, efficiency and any abnormalities that may occur and cause malfunctions. Since cobots cannot selffix, they create new tasks for the human employee counterparts to monitor cobot logs and make sure everything is in place by tracking every activity of theirs. In case the productivity decreases or there is abnormal behaviour, the cobot software will alert the human employees, who can promptly tweak the programming or operational conditions accordingly.
The robotics industry has undergone a huge change in terms of technology and applications. Can you highlight the latest trends?
AI and deep learning are the latest trends in robotic system. The latter has enabled countless successes on a number of applications. In the field of robotics, it improves industrial robotic efficiency as the robot can detect things themselves and understand data physically and logically.
What are some misconceptions of a robot and its use in the factory?
Displacing labour by robots is feared by most blue-collar professionals, but that is not the case with cobots. By working in collaboration with humans, they increase efficiency and lead to the company’s growth, thereby enabling it to hire more employees.
Do you think the increasing use of robots will affect human jobs? If all the repetitive tasks become automated, what happens to the low-end jobs?
While low-end jobs are being eliminated, increasing automation does not have to impact employment negatively. Instead, the introduction of cobots almost always results in net job creation. Human employees are being unburdened from performing repetitive tasks that may hurt them or present some ergonomic risk, which cobots can perform with optimal speed, accuracy, cost and with no safety hazards.