The field of robotics is evolving rapidly, ushering the era of a technologically-advanced industrial revolution in the coming years. In fact, industrial robots are the key to the revolutionizing of manufacturing, with faster, cheaper and smarter robots being built to take up on human traits and capabilities such as dexterity, trainability, sensing and memory. Consequently, such robots find great use in jobs like packaging and picking, inspecting and testing products, as well as assembling small and large electronics. The change brought about by robots in manufacturing is evident and prominent, which is clearly illustrated through the following lines.
Robots- Rise In Manufacturing
With the introduction of collaborative robots, the use of robots in manufacturing has expanded and they now work at par with human employees by simply being trained through demonstration (physical) (https://blog.robotiq.com/3-trends-in-robotics-that-are-changing-manufacturing). Also, as the technologies of robots keep expanding and their prices continue to declines, the popularity of industrial robots in mid-sized and small manufacturers is growing, which is evident through a PwC survey that concludes that 59% of total manufacturers in the US are presently using robotics technology. Here are some noteworthy facts mentioned in the PwC survey:
In North America, the annual robot orders crossed the 20,000 unit mark within a timeframe of 2011 and 2013, and in 2014 (first half) a surge was observed in the orders.
The NVCA MoneyTree/PwC Report (Thomson Reuters data based) showed that US venture capital firms made capital investments worth $172 million in 2013, which was 3 times more than investments made in 2011. The total number of robotic technologies based global published patents crossed the 5000 mark in 2013, which was a remarkable growth from 1400 in the year 2004.
Traditional Robots To Stay
However, just because new robots are finding use in manufacturing, it doesn’t mean that traditional production models are going to disappear. That is because these traditional robots are ideal when it comes to mass production. In traditional manufacturing plants, the industrial robots are immovable and are exclusively programmed to carry out specific tasks, which makes them highly accurate, efficient as well as reliable. The only disadvantage of using these traditional robots is that they cannot view their surroundings or engage in human interaction or feel objects.
In order to stay at par with the ever-changing technology, the future traditional robots will require to offer more agility and flexibility so that their quality and productivity can be improved to meet the rising consumer requirements. Therefore, the future robot should be intelligent and able enough to find use in different applications including manufacturing. Such robots should also be equipped to connect via networks to share information with various smart devices by learning through the support of Big Data, artificial intelligence algorithms and the Cloud. Future robots should also be safe, easy and should feature a friendly HMI or human-machine interface along with moving ability (or mobility).
The Growth Of IoT (Internet of Things)
Increasingly intelligent and connected devices are today transforming the manufacturing ecosystem. In production, the IoT or Internet of Things investment is predicted to double to $71 billion from $35 billion by 2020. While North America is the world leader in IoT adoption today, it is projected that the Asia-Pacific region will gain a larger share in the global market by 2020. The evolution of IoT platforms is under process but it is clear that IoT as well as robotics are winning in several industrial sectors.
The potential assets associated with IoT are still unconnected and in the earliest stage. Cybersecurity protection is the main barrier to the widespread integration of IoT in manufacturing and other industrial sectors. With improved security in design of industrial control systems, a potential rise in IoT is possible in the future. The aim of using IoT architecture is to ensure the collaboration and orchestration of things such as robots to improve the end-to-end digitized value systems and streams so that it can influence the digitized business processes.
Greater intelligence and flexibility will enable robots to proliferate across various industries that have not yet been able to fully utilize robotics technology for maximum benefit, such as pharmaceuticals, food and beverage and consumer goods. Robotics aims at becoming intuitive, collaborative, relatable, agile and self-monitoring so that it can exhibit more human-like characteristics. The ultimate vision is uncaging robots so that they can work side-by-side along with humans to offer safer and better usability.