Robotics has become a major force in the business world and has become heavily used.
However, this utilization of robotics in the industry is not a new innovation. It has been seen in use around since the early 60s. These robots have been commonly used for assembling products, managing hazardous supplies, and planting and assemble parts in many businesses. Newer and more advanced models enables organizations to almost completely remove human labor. This is because these newer innovations significantly advance productivity and efficiency and ultimately diminish costs associated with labor.
Many companies have begun to see the many advantages that automation can provide especially in manufacturing. Encouraging more organizations to start implementing them. This implementation can be seen across various industries including the food packaging and chain restaurant industry to the health industry. This is anything but surprising considering how much robotics enhances the proficiency in these industries. Allowing for a greater focus on capital instead of repetitive tasks.
Robotics in Automation
In the beginning, the use of robotics in automation was most commonly used in repetitive operations such as assembly lines.
This can be seen in 1961 by General Motors who began the utilization of robotics commercially on their assembly lines. This is because repetitive operations mass produces one or a few uniform products. This results in a heavy rely on automation and technology which improves efficiency and increases output (R. Dan Reid, 2016). The use of robots has increased dramatically in recent years. The number of robots in the world is expected to be approaching one million. It is also reported that currently manufacturing uses 90% of automation.
The numerous innovations provided by robotics has turned many manufacturing warehouses into a highly robotic dominated place. This is because of the many different types of robotics and their different abilities. However, knowing the right robot to implement and how much to automate is a very complex decision.
Deciding to Automate
This use of automation is a decision that every firm has to decide. The utilization contrasts from extent to the type of automation that the organization should use. Automation promotes product consistency which allows for an ideal quality standard. It also produces in substantial volumes and allows for continuous work. . However, while the use of automation comes with many advantages it likewise has a few weaknesses. One of the disadvantages associated with automation is that it is often very costly to incorporate. Additionally, some types of automation are inflexible when it comes to accommodating product changes (R. Dan Reid, 2016). Regardless of the disadvantages automation is still widely utilized by numerous firms across the world.
An example of automated material handling can be seen with the use of AGVS. An AGV or an automated guide vehicle is a battery-driven truck that moves materials from one location to the other and takes its directions from either an onboard or central computer. Older versions trailed a cable that was installed under the machines floor. While more up to date versions follow optical paths and can travel anywhere there is path space. These machines even have the capability to move around and avoid objects in their way. These machines serve a significant advantage to managers because they allow for an easier transport of materials that were not possible with traditional conveyer belts (R. Dan Reid, 2016).
Another type of automated device is the automated storage and retrieval system. This automated warehouse system utilizes AGVs and automated storage bins and racks. The storage bins posses the capability to rotate in order to make sure the desired storage bin is available for storage or retrieval. This system is computer controlled and monitors the quantity and location of each item while simultaneously controlling how much will be stored or recovered in a particular area.
As a result of the numerous robotics becoming available. Robotics in manufacturing is making a bigger appearance in the U.S. The most common form of robotics in manufacturing is the use of a computer controlled mechanical arm. This mechanical arm serves many purposes. Some of these include painting, assembly, and the stocking and unloading of machines. Robots have become particularly valuable in tasks that are physically unsafe such as handling radioactive materials (R. Dan Reid, 2016).
Furthermore, robots differentiate between their levels of complexity. For example, some robots follow repetitive set of instructions while others are more complex and can be programmed to recognize objects and make simple decisions. One example of a robot that is commonly used is called the numerically controlled machine. These computer-controlled machines are programed to do a variety of tasks including drilling or turning parts.
Robotic Process Automation
The technology of RPA, or robotic process automation, can be applied to a variety of industries. For example, in automated assistance and process automation. In process automation this type of technology allows for the ability to consistently carry out functions and easily scale up or down to fulfill needs. In the automated assistance the technology allows for a voice recognition system that has the ability to provide answers to employees and customers. this technology is a major help to large call centers and for customer interaction centers.
Utilization in The Healthcare Industry
A new technology is intelligent assembly robots. Robotic systems usually required huge complex installations and were very expensive. While these new robots can be installed in less than a day and are much cheaper. This allows these robots to be accessible to smaller companies. The widespread use of robots can be seen through the medical community. In the medical community the use of robotic automation is becoming more common. For example, NYU doctors use marginally invasive robotic surgery to repair heart valves.
The robot arm is controlled through a complex system. The doctors manipulate the instrument while the robotic system replicates these movements. The advantages associated with using robotics during surgery is that they have the capability to perform delicate and small motor movements. Predictions about the future of robotics in surgery include that soon robotics will help with eye surgery, neurosurgery and cosmetic.
It is evident that RPA is used heavily in the health care industry. This is partially because this new innovation allows for the automation of tedious tasks enabling a shift in focus to higher-value work. In the healthcare field the RPA software can process transactions, manipulate data, trigger responses, and communicate with other digital systems. This technology helps in hospitals, clinics, medical professionals, and patients save money at a time where health care costs are expected to grow 6.5% worldwide. One way this is being utilized by the industry is by utilizing a system that automates repetitive tasks associated with billing. Ultimately improving the proficiency of billing and lowering the amount of write-offs (Utermoheln, 2018).
Another way RPA is beneficial and utilized in the health care industry can be seen with medical records. This is because it can give information regarding data on a patients condition and their advancement. The system observers a patients journey from when they stared showing symptoms to where they are now. The technology likewise offers a diagnosis and treatment options by analyzing information from various databases. This system is extremely helpful because it simplifies their work and helps patients. Additionally, it helps to coordinate the care and in population management and wellness (Utermoheln, 2018).
Popular Robotic Systems
Robots have significantly increased their potential as automation tools. New robotics and their advancements have given them the capability of machine vision, force sensing, and speech recognition. These new advanced innovations have drastically changed the speed of proficiency in delivery systems. The precision that robotics provides makes manual operations an inadmissible alternative (Robotics Technology Trends, n.d.).
Intelligent Assist devices are increasingly popular robot. This is because it is similar to an extension of a human arm but with more reach and strength. It is also not a replacement for humans but is another class of assist that helps in many ways. Some of these ways include power assistance, motion guidance and line tracking. It is expected that in the future there will be more advancements and cost-effective robot designs. The biggest change is that they will advance into a more extensive assortment of structures.
The U.S is not the only country that is taking advantage of the new technology of robotics. China has become the lead buyer in robots. Their objective is to not just lower production costs but also to improve quality and compete more effective high quality goods. In China they also use robotics to aid with high building construction. As a result of the number of young workers in china decreasing and the psychological fear of heights. China also has become a major innovator in the field of robotic developments. They created a robot called Remebot that upholds the precise accuracy of up to one millimeter. With the help of Remebot brain surgery the normally took hours to complete was reduced to only 30 minutes (China Focus: Robotics Industry booms in China, 2016).
China also has plans to build the most advanced and automated robotics factory in the world located in Shanghai. Essentially it will be a factory where robots make other robots. It is referred to as an innovative design that better utilizes manufacturing space. The new factory will have a flexible floor span based on interlinked isles of automation instead of assembly lines. There will also be logistics automation through the factory. These include AGVs or automated guide vehicles that have the ability to follow robots as they move through production and supplying them with parts. This allows for production to adjust to changes without additional capacity expansions. The factory will also utilize a software called Safemove2. The software aids in the assurance of the highest level of productivity and flexibility by allowing robots to work safely in close proximity (ABB to Build the World’s Most Advanced Factory in Shanghai, 2018).
Robotics and automation can even be seen in the food industry. The concept of robotics in the food industry is a fast-evolving concept. One way robotics are utilized in the industry is by sorting. Sorting is mainly used in organizations for quality control. The sorting of massive quantities on a commercial scale is made possible using a system known as optical sorting. Optical sorting machines identify deformities and removes them from the product stream. The defects that the machine identifies include contaminants such as glass, insects, pieces of shells, or rotten product.
The machine is also able to detect more subtle contaminations such as misshaped, discolored, or blemished products. For products that are considered hazardous to health there is a zero tolerance and the product is usually removed. However, for more obtrusive deformities the machine only removes a certain percentage so that a certain quality standard is maintained. The optical sorting machines utilizes cameras or lasers to identify the defects and afterword an air ejector to remove undesirable items (Woodhead Publishing Limited, 2013, 2013).
Robotics is also used in the freezing and chilling of food. it is estimated that 40% of all foods require refrigeration and rely on a cold-chain to maintain product quality and safety. A cold-chain is intended to provide the most ideal conditions for slowing and preventing the rate at which changes in food occur. These changes include the growth of microorganisms, ripening, or moisture loss. Effective refrigeration will produce safe food with a long high quality self-life. An essential aspect of this system is transporting the materials while maintaining the appropriate temperature. To combat this issue many local deliveries are almost completely automated. A computer program is used to optimize routes, construct the best loads and guarantee sufficient shelf-life after transportation (Woodhead Publishing Limited, 2013, 2013).
Robotics is also utilized in the processes associated in the poultry business and more specifically utilized in meat production. The process for pork production is almost completely automated. Some of the automations include improvements in barn design which provides the best environment for pigs and ventilation systems that monitor the air quality of barns. Additionally, many individual farms use automation to stay informed about weather and disease alerts. This innovation also allows for collaboration with numerous specialists including veterinarians (Technology Use on Pig Farms, 2016).
The use of robotics and automation is also used in restaurants. As a result of minimum wage increase and the rising costs of materials. Restaurants are looking for better approaches to decrease costs while also becoming more efficient. For example, Little Ceasers had implemented a robotic arm that spreads dough, adds topping and places pizzas in the oven (Matthews, 2018).This type of innovation could be successful especially because in chain restaurants people expect to have an identical experience and automation helps with this. Another example is from a small burger chain named Caliburger that utilizes a robot that flips their burgers. However, the company could not keep up with its ability to make over 2,000 burgers a day (Romeo, 2018).
The example of Caliburger not being able to keep up with its machine shows why picking automation for a company is extremely important. Every aspect needs to considered carefully. Deciding to automate parts of production is very complicated because this decision needs to be a long-term strategic decision. This is because it could lead to problems such as having one robot piling up inventory and the other processes are unable to catch up. One incremental approach to automation originates from Rethink Robotics, a dual arm robot that can work next to people on the production line. It also integrates quickly and effectively with other automation devices. Others like robots from Adept Technology have a distributed control that allows for a single controller to control multiple robots. It also allows for robots to be easily added to an existing system (Labs, 2015).
The trend of having picking advanced by robotics is shown by the use Lucus bots. Lucus robotics are autonomous mobile robots. they work alongside human employees safely and deliver ecommerce. The robots are able to detect a wide range of workers languages and help to speed up the work flow.
Sure sort is a small-item and is another automated system that assists with sorting. It was made by a company called Opex corp and handles complex factors and delivers items to their location. Its assortment of locations can also be customized. Its delivery reduces the number of touches and exchanges that were originally required in existing sorters. Sure Sort operates by reading a barcode and then delivering each item to its designated location. This type of system is useful for small businesses that are in need of a cost effective entry into warehouse automation (Futch, 2017).
While automated robotics can increase efficiency. Each application must be considered carefully. Making sure it is designed to work with the rest of the process flow. Furthermore, it is integral to evaluate the robotic automation requirements along with the overall business requirements. capital expense, operating savings, performance improvement, and customer service enhancement should be main points for consideration. The use of robotics is expected to surge in the next three years.
Many large firms even have plans to almost completely automate all physical movements in their facilities within the next couple of years. This is most likely the result of the fact that robots are becoming more affordable than the increasing wages of human labor. Automation essentially diminishes labor costs and enables employees to concentrate on capital instead of repetitive tasks. Moreover, the continued use of artificial intelligence has been linked to the development of numerous organizations. However, there is still fear that robotics will soon replace the workforce. U.s executives say otherwise. They feel that the utilization of robotics will positively affect their business in the next 3 to 5 years. U.S companies expect automation will impact mostly operations. Therefore, the demand for capital is rising (Increased Use of AI and robotics linked to brighter outlook for U.S business growth, 2017).
It is evident that automation has become a sign of growth and productivity . The use of robotics is not only helpful but is becoming more of a necessity. Robotics continue to renovate manufacturing in countless different ways. As more and more companies begin to see the advantages associated with use of robotic process automation the more it will be utilized. There is expected to be a sharp ascent in automation in the next few years. It will be used for multiple processes and is expected to manage customer focused processes. Additionally, it is expected that there will be an emergence of smart process automation. Smart process automation is an extension of RPA and automates unstructured data that robotics is incapable of managing all itself (Ishir, 2018).
While RPA is different from Artificial intelligence. It is believed that the next stage of RPA will move past rule-based technology and begin to incorporate artificial intelligence aspects. RPA is also expected to be utilized with different instruments as more organizations are realizing that it doesnt work or expand optimally on its own. However, since RPA is capable of many things combining it with other tools and the human workforce will make a complete and evolved workforce (Ishir, 2018). As shown Robotics in automation is the future for companies globally. It will continue to grow and evolve and be implemented in almost all aspects of manufacturing.