Industrial robotics is growing year after year because companies are seeing the benefit of adding automation especially in areas where employees are doing repetitive motions or heavy lifting. Below is a list of the 7 hottest topics for 2016:
- Collaborative robots – Allowing a person to work alongside or in the same area as a robot brings flexibility and efficiency to the process. This collaboration frees up the employee to do more important tasks and can also relieve the repetitive stress injuries these jobs can cause.
- Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) adding robots – In the past automotive companies have been the largest purchaser of industrial robots. SMEs are beginning to see how they can improve their quality, efficiency, and competitive edge by adding robots. RIA has seen a growth of 27% in general material handling and SMEs are also seeing that robots are actually saving or even creating jobs.
- Fenceless robots – Software like FANUC’s Dual Check Safety and safety sensors are helping to create smaller and smaller work cells. This increase in available floor space allows for more work to be done in the same area. Companies will be looking at ways to implement this technology to improve and grow their business.
- Random bin picking – Technology in the areas of camera resolution, processing power, and EOAT’s sensitivity and flexibility has as allowed some robot integrators to meet this complicated task of picking randomly ordered parts from a bin. This is a game changer for the automotive components, medical, and food & beverage industries.
- Predictive maintenance – Analyzing data to improve total system efficiency is an area that has been explored for many years, but has struggled because not all the systems are standardized. In robotics, robot efficiency and predictive maintenance can be obtained by simply focusing on robot performance. The FANUC ZDT program is an example where data collection can be analyzed and used to improve the process.
- High payload handling – Robots continue to expand their payload limits. With ability to lift almost 5,000 pounds, robots are expanding into areas never thought possible. This helps companies with quality controls and efficiency.
- Quarter of a million robots in the USA – Robotics is proving to be a way to save manufacturing jobs and bring production back to the USA. Like all technologies, fear of the unknown is subsiding and the benefits are being seen.