Robotic Automation in 2019 – 4 Hot Trends
What once was considered science fiction, is now a reality – especially when it comes to smart industrial robots. According to experts, robots are being equipped with more and more sensors and programming them has never been easier. This allows robots to take on repetitive or dangerous tasks that were too hard to automate, which was unimaginable just two years ago. This will also be key factors in the future development of the packaging and manufacturing industries.
According to experts, these 5 trends will have a huge impact in the coming years:
Accelerated adoption of artificial intelligence in factories and manufacturing facilities:
Over the past years, the industry has invested in sensor and data technology, and now it is time to introduce advanced analytics and AI to factories. The packaging industry is just one of the industries that will utilize artificial intelligence. Besides AI in packaging, we can expect to see the use of AI for self-driving cars and other autonomous devices like drones, boats or other ground-moving vehicles. This will drive progress in many fields, such as agriculture, mining, exploration, and any other industry where autonomous vehicles can be more useful.
New companies will enter the robotics market:
As new robotic companies emerge, we can expect more packaging and manufacturing robots on the market, cheaper manufacturing and packaging machines and a larger variety of automated solutions. Germany, China, and the U.S are countries where we can expect the largest increase in the number of companies developing and marketing robots. Whether we talk about task-specific machines or generalist robots, 2019 will definitely bring a wider choice of machines for industrial manufacturers. Reliability, safety, speed, precision and ease of use will continue to be the key factors. Just like it happened years ago with the early personal computer market, robots will be used for applications that are beyond manufacturers’ wildest dreams. Unfortunately, we cannot expect a common API for robots as was the case for early PCs, at least not in the next two years. On the other hand, robots today are seen as a programmable platform, and the growing third-party robotic software and integrator market offers the key to new applications, the same way it happened in the PC sector 20-30 years ago.
Increasing demand for sensors:
The new type of manufacturing infrastructure will be an area of large investments for many companies. Some of the sensor set up will help robots navigate and get the information it needs to help humans, while others will operate with the more efficient use of electricity. Precision and control tasks will be supported by cameras. Laser scanners are one type of sensors that will be even more utilized, especially in order to create virtual cages that can shut down robots before encountering humans, so safety fences will become absolute. Another way of preventing robots from getting in direct contact with humans are touch-sensitive sensors that can be wrapped around robots and when necessary, stop robotic movement around humans.
The use of robots in logistics:
Next-generation robots will also be applied for various logistical tasks. Automation is being pushed even further with robots used for packaging and pick-and-place operations. The combination of sensors will allow robots to capture data and help them to navigate a factory floor, which will ultimately bring labor costs down. It also means that the percentage of repetitive motion injuries will decrease as repetitive processes are automated. Some studies even suggest that thanks to robots, the workflow improvements can reduce as much of 68 percent of errors caused by humans.
Nortech Packaging is no exception when it comes to the use of advanced robotics for packaging and palletizing operations. Openstack, collaborative palletizer developed by Nortech Packaging features Fanuc’s CR-35 which is one of the best collaborative robots on the market, developed with palletizing in mind. Openstack features sensors that allow for an immediate contact stop and visual part recognition. This is one of the largest co-bots on the market with payload capacity up to 80 lbs. The open, safe, guard-less layout allows machine operators to work side by side with the robot, and dual pallet and slip/tier sheet stations allow for uninterrupted operation.
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