THE RISE OF AUTOMATION AND ROBOTICS IN MANUFACTURING
Automation and robotics are changing the world. What will their impact be in the coming future? The last couple of years have seen a rising interest in and need for technological solutions in many sectors. Whether driven by the pandemic, labour shortages or supply chain troubles, many sectors are looking for ways to use robotics and automation to improve their business model.
Simply, automation and robotics impact everything from how people travel to the way their favourite goods are created.
Automation and robotics in manufacturing
Automation is a new age modern technology that mechanises a repetitive process, thereby reducing the need for human assistance. As you’re likely aware, automation can describe anything from self-checkout lanes at the food mart to automated teller machines (ATMs) at the bank.
Today, Robotics plays a vital role in the manufacturing sector. Automated manufacturing solutions act as a central part of any operation which strives for optimal efficiency, safety & competitive advantage in the market. Manufacturing robots not only automate repetitive tasks, but they also help in reducing margins of error to negligible rates and most importantly empower human workers to focus on more productive areas of the operation.
The industrial robotics market is anticipated to reach $75.3 billion by 2026. Some factors which are bolstering the growth of this market is owing to the anticipated skilled labourers’ shortage in manufacturing industries and surging demand for cobots (collaborative robots) across industries.
Reducing costs with manufacturing robots
Manufacturing robots offer numerous benefits, including cost savings. This may be surprising, since smaller manufacturing companies may assume that purchasing robotics is an expensive investment. While the initial cost may be steep, the benefits can save manufacturers thousands of rupees in decreasing costs and improved productivity.
The first and probably the most considerable way that robots reduce manufacturing costs is that they do not require compensation. Although the initial cost may seem discouraging, manufacturing businesses will see a long-term return on their investment. This is due to many other benefits:
- Robots can work 24/7 without break if needed
- Robots do not require the lights to be on, reducing energy usage
- They reduce the time spent correcting errors
In nutshell, manufacturing robots offer manufacturers greater consistency and better quality when performing repetitive tasks. Their behaviour is also predictable and their movements are accurate. It also means that they are able to produce high-quality products with little variation and better consistency than their human counterparts.
Also, robotic workers do not need to take breaks and can work 24 hours a day without shift changes or other interruptions. Once a robot has been perfectly programmed and trained to do a certain work, it can speed up production by decreasing part cycle times and creating more effective manufacturing processes which translates into higher profits.
Robots in manufacturing applications
One of the most prevalent applications where around 40% industrial robots are used is material handling landscape. Material handling robots have the potential to automate some of the most daunting and unsafe tasks in the production line.
With the introduction of collaborative robots, into the manufacturing sector at a reasonable price, the capacity to revolutionise manufacturing/production lines is proliferating.
While around 30% of the robots implemented in the manufacturing sector are welders, the welding segment mainly consists of spot welding and arc welding and more and more welding robots are being integrated by small manufacturers into the fabrication line. The cost of welding robots is plunging which has made it easier to automate a welding process. Also, these robots not only provide better efficiency, accuracy, speed, but also offer enhanced performance for welding parts of various shapes & sizes. It also supports a large variety of intelligent functions that include ready-to-use robotic vision, as well as collision avoidance.
Future of robotics and automation
Automation and robotics in manufacturing has brought forth many beneficial changes in the industrial sector. The impact of automated manufacturing robots are far-reaching and widespread, contributing to increased productivity and business performance throughout the organisation. When humans are released from duties these automated robots can readily perform, they can devote more time and energy to higher-level organisational positions. A definite enhancement may be seen in how a company conducts its business when robots are properly integrated into those processes.
(The author is Mr. Siddhant Bery, Managing Partner and CEO, of KSP INC and the views expressed in this article are his own)