While originally a mixed reviewed 1994 console video game, the recently published report by The Boston Consulting Group titled “The Rise of Robotics” really made me realize how important it is that we embrace robotics in our manufacturing processes. And I strongly agree with this statement: “Because robots can sharply improve productivity and offset regional differences in labor costs and availability, they’ll likely have a major impact on the competitiveness of companies and countries alike.” They studied the growth of the usage of robots in personal, commercial, military and industrial use and the numbers were quite powerful. Of interest to me is the rise in industrial robotics; doubling in 5 years from $5.8b to $11.0b in 2015. And the growth is expected to more than double again by 2025 to $24.4b in the industrial space.
What this means for manufacturers, machine builders and component suppliers is we need to make sure our people are trained to support this growth and that we we have strong peripheral technologies to support robots as they grow and expand. Even today there are some great technologies available in sensors and controls that make robotic integration easier for manufacturing companies.
So here are the three ways to make sure you are your robot’s ally.
Maximize Their Payload!
No one wants to be treated like they can’t help… especially your robots, they want you to utilize them and feel appreciated. For most robotics right now, payload size & payload weight is a limiting factor. Mini sensing products with precision switch points, small form factors and low mass allow for the design of low weight, compact payloads without limiting the functionality or speed of the robot.
Keep them Working!
A working robot is a happy robot. By adding flexible tooling or quick-change tooling to the end-effector of a robot you can have one arm perform multiple functions and keep idle arms to a minimum, increasing their value and “happiness.” Multiple products are out there to allow for this, however there is a technology that allows for sensor connections through inductive coupling that dramatically decreases repair issues and downtime due to tool changer pins.
Remove the Chains!
What’s the deal with cable dress packs… they look like really bad suspenders sometimes… you see them, you don’t like how they look, but you need it to keep your pants on… I guarantee that robots don’t like these things either… And with all that flexing something in there will fail regularly. There are some great technologies to reduce the sensor cables running on the arm and add flexibility and they are supported by the open standard IO-Link (discussed in other posts here!).
So as you integrate robots more and more into the manufacturing we are doing, please start thinking how to align yourself as a robot’s ally. Because I know I want to be on this guy’s team…