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ROBOTICS INDUSTRY ADVANCEMENTS Trends driving industrial robotic automation

Dec 14, 2022

The world is changing at a rapid pace, and so are the changes in technology. This article sheds light on manufacturing industries deploying cobots to work alongside the labour force, as they can perform long, tedious, and heavy weight-lifting tasks while ensuring the quality of the product. - James Mckew, Regional President - APAC, Universal Robots

The industrial robotics market has grown dramatically in recent years, and the pandemic has played a significant role in the increased use of robots due to labour shortages, safe distance requirements, and demand spikes for specific products.

Massive advancements have been recorded in the robotic automation sector in the past decades. In recent years, a new form of robot known as a collaborative robot, or cobot for short, has entered industries that need a helping hand in assembling, dispensing, milling, inspecting, packaging, and palletising. Manufacturing industries are deploying cobots to work alongside the labour force, assisting with tasks that require repetition over long periods of time or are dangerous for humans. Cobots can perform long, tedious, and heavy weightlifting tasks while ensuring the quality of the product.

Cobots are easy to use and can be used safely alongside humans. According to robotics industry statistics, the industry's revenue will increase by 15-20% by 2028.

Here are a few advancements and trends driving the transition to automation with the deployment of cobots.

Labour shortage

A large number of people nowadays are interested in performing mental work rather than heavy, tedious physical work. At the same time, the pandemic took a toll on the life and health of the masses and implemented border measures. These factors and more led to labour shortages in many parts of the world. As per the findings of the Korn Ferry Report, there will be an estimated shortage of 85 million workers around the globe by 2030.

Lack of proper skills, old age, and health issues collectively are paving the way for more labour shortages in the near future around the globe. Cobots are cost-effective and further assist manufacturers in increasing production while keeping quality in check. Cobots are safe to use alongside humans in manufacturing units, and they do not require special settings to work. They are space-saving, require least to negligible maintenance, and can be deployed and redeployed to various tasks.

Robotic automation in manufacturing units is a smart way of producing that is not limited to large corporations. Even small and medium-sized enterprises are using it to increase their production. Cobots are the best combination of humans and robots to be used in factories.

Robotic automation leverages high-mix, low volume production

With changing trends, the focus in the manufacturing sector has shifted from mass production to high mix, low volume, where a variety of products are produced in small batches. Because of their simple programming, cobots can perform a wide range of tasks. This makes it economical for the manufacturer to go for customised products and adapt to the current market demand.

Cobots are versatile, adaptable, and designed with worker safety in mind. They are deployed after risk assessment, and do not require cages or fences for human protection (upon risk assessment) and space savings.

Low barriers to automation adoption

Traditional robots were very bulky and needed special requirements like cages or fencing to ensure their safety. They are expensive, need high maintenance, and require experts for their operation, making their adoption difficult in the industry.

Cobots have evaded all these barriers to automation adoption. Cobots are cost-effective and can be deployed alongside humans without any need for special settings, they are easy to program, and workers can operate them with little training. Companies of any size can use cobots in their operations to assist with repetitive tasks. Some manufacturers achieve ROI within a short period of 12 months, and staff is able to take on more productive and valuable tasks.

The adoption of automation is not only cost-effective for manufacturers but also enables them to upskill their staff to perform more rewarding work. Cobots can work 24/7 and are very efficient at performing repetitive tasks, which normally leads to fatigue for human workers. When monotonous and error-prone tasks are handled by robots, workers can take on tasks that require more cognition, creativity, and dexterity, improving their quality of life.

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