Collaborative Robots Are The Future For Tech Industry

by Wrik Sen    Sep 30, 2016

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The days of dim-witted robotic devices are over. The future is filled collaborative robots who are intelligent and sophisticated. According to the recently released World Robotics Report 2016, collaborative robots (cobots) are being seen as a major market driver. In fact, Universal Robots has already welcomed the report, which has documented details of how the future of ‘Industrial Automation’ is the hottest in the arena of cobots, with the segment seeing no real slowdown or growth possibilities in the future.

This trend, as been observed till now, shows that robots are no more ‘dumb devices’ but ‘intelligent and smart’ machines, which can change the way industry functions, or gets automated, it said.

According to the World Robotics Report 2016, the annual sales of robots is set to touch an average of 13% from the year 2017 to 2019, in the world markets. This development will actually put humans and robots on an ‘at-par’ level enabling them to work side by side, while production efficiency and quality.

In fact, a human-robot merger is barely 200 years away! Daniel Friis, Chief Commercial Officer of Universal Robots explained, “As the market leader of the cobot industry, Universal Robots welcomes the report which confirms the validity of our mission: lowering barriers and enabling automation in areas previously considered too complex or costly. Our installed base of more than 10,000 cobots worldwide illustrates the dramatic growth potential of this game-changing automation technology. We enable small and medium-sized enterprises to optimize their competitiveness on the global stage with an average robot payback period of just 195 days.” 

Cobots working

The figures mentioned here should not be a total surprise, even for a market like India, which is now pushing for robots in the banking sector, as HDFC has become the first in the country, to use it for some customer services functions. The levels achieved in Japan and some developing countries are yet to be reached, where robots are almost at par with a normal human being, but India too, as it looks, has taken the baby steps in that direction. 

Taking robotics to the schools

If the craze for robotics is not convincing enough as yet, the scenario of the new age schooling curriculum certainly should keep a lot of people interested. According to a Robotics Organization report, RAMTEC has robotics as a crucial part of the curriculum taught to its students. Learning how to program robots, working out the ‘Ins and Outs’ of various software platforms, are something they learn early.

They also get to learn even more basic aspects like welding, PLCs, Hydraulics, Pneumatics, Computer Aided Design (CAD), CNCs, and even 3-D printing, which are obviously the building blocks for future technocrats in robotics.

Ritch Ramey, the RAMTEC engineering coordinator mentioned, “It’s important that kids start understanding the concept of robotics.” He also added,  “We’re going to see it expand probably tenfold in the use of robots over the next 15 to 20 years. They should at least know the basics of robotics.”

Regarding the training provided, Ramey said “Our students have to do exactly what the industry people do. The same amount of time, same assignments, same e-learning, and same tests to get their credentialing.”  

Markets are maturing fast 

Daniel Friis put forward a very important observation, which drives towards a conclusion that robotics’ markets are maturing really quick, almost right from the point of starting out! “At the recent machine tool show IMTS in Chicago, we experienced an overwhelming interest from attendees that were not just kicking tires, exploring the new cobot technology. They came to our booth ready to place orders.” Also, in terms of market geography, The Americas region is expected to see strong continued cobot growth according to the IFR report.

However, China is predicted to remain the main driver of robot growth, expanding its dominance with almost 40% of the global robot supply being installed in China by 2019. Friis said, “China is a strong focus area for Universal Robots. We opened a Shanghai subsidiary in 2013 and are constantly expanding our distributor network in the region where customers are increasingly using our cobots to optimize product quality and automate repetitive tasks that the Chinese have difficulty staffing with manual labor,” pointing out to the fact that cobots especially, shall becomes a regular feature of the ecosystem of Industry 4.0, thus ensuring the closing of the gap between people and machines on the factory floor.

The demand for consumer goods across global markets is pushing manufacturers to produce innovative, high-quality products more quickly, consistently, and sustainably around the world. Cobots redeploy human creativity with robotic repeatability to address market evolution and customer requirements.

Conclusion

Though we have discussed how Indian IT can gain from robotic automation, India is still to get there with the idea. HDFC Bank may have taken it up as an pilot project idea to test things on-ground, but real change will come about when it catches up with the rest of the industry, on a larger scale. Perhaps tapping the country’s fast growing IoT market would help things, considering they have an estimated CAGR of 28% from 2015-2020, according to a TechSci Research report.