Manufacturing

Robotics and Manufacturing.

Robotics-in-manufacturing

Introduction

Artificial intelligence has completely changed the way robots work in manufacturing and we now see them working alongside humans. Robotics and manufacturing is going to usher a new era of collaboration and smart working.

According to TechJury statistics, the artificial intelligence and robotic industry’s global market for manufacturing and other jobs is estimated to reach $59.9 billion USD. Robotic automation is going hand in hand with several industrial manufacturing areas, and it’s playing a vital role in the manufacturing landscape.

The robots perform various tasks such as assembly, welding, raw materials management, product packing, and shipping. It makes the work more efficient by both time and cost, but it also ensures a decrease in human error. Forbes states that there were 99 robots in the global industry per 10,000 human employees in 2018.

What are robots doing in manufacturing?

Artificial intelligence has completely changed the way robots work. Now modern robots can learn new tasks and instruction with time due to machine learning algorithms. That’s why we can see robots working side by side with human workers in some factories such as the Tesla Gigafactory.

Under the vision of Elon Musk, we can see AI robots wandering around and self-navigating AIVs (Autonomous Indoor Vehicles). They don’t need magnets or beacons to guide them, and they efficiently transfer goods between different stations with 100 percent accuracy.

The advancements in RPA (Robotic Process Automation) technology are drastic, and it allows robots to carry out many tasks in manufacturing. The most common tasks are but not limited to, the following:

  • Welding
  • Assembly
  • Disassembly
  • Painting
  • Goods transportation
  • Palletizing
  • Packaging and labeling
  • Product inspection
  • Testing
Source: YouTube

Robotics and manufacturing

The new concepts and ideas are emerging from using robots in manufacturing because of the benefits they bring. Robots automation upgrades manufacturing with a sophisticated and accurate working environment.

They also offer the confidence that we need and allow us to spend our time on more important decision-making matters. The following are the most significant reasons why we should consider using robots in manufacturing:

  • Robots work efficiently and save time all the way from managing raw material to packing the final product.
  • It’s possible to customize a single robot to perform multiple tasks simultaneously.
  • The robots do not need breaks and they can work 24/7 for continuous production.
  • It allows organizations to stand out from the competition, and that’s why the trend to use robotics in manufacturing is dramatically increasing.
  • Automation, like in other fields, is always cost and time effective, and robotics can support companies of any size, even in small shops.
  • Robots allow you to save your money by freeing up human resources that you have to spend in multiple streams.
  • Robotics in manufacturing also helps workers by keeping them from dangerous, mundane, and repetitive tasks.
Source: YouTube

Robotics will require a specialized skill set

For many people, robotics is a new field, and a significant proportion of them think that using robotics is unethical because it eliminates human jobs. The fact of the matter is that robotics is also creating new job opportunities as well. There are some skill sets that we should learn in order to use robotics for our manufacturing, some of which are the following:

Revolutionizing the assembly line

There are tasks that humans just cannot perform, such as handling micro parts or lifting heavy equipment. However, we’ve been using machines to lift the heavy equipment for so long. But such machines still need human efforts to perform their actions. In comparison, the artificially intelligent robots don’t need any input once they are programmed and never make mistakes. It is one of the most significant reasons why more products are made for robotic assembly.

Robots have all types of sensors, and they reduce the need for costly tooling and fixturing. They can also sense and work accordingly if any assembly issue occurs. That’s why any organization can benefit from robots for manufacturing purposes. The initial investment will be considerable, but the benefits that robots bring make it worthwhile.

Source: YouTube

RAAS, an opportunity

RaaS (Robotics as a Service) is a huge opportunity because it allows the manufacturers to utilize AI and robotic power by acquiring the latest aspects of manufacturing. It’s a cloud-based system that enables us to remove the cost to pay for costly automation upgrades. It also allows us to change our system accordingly if we experience a change in requirements.

The biggest benefit of acquiring robotics as a service is that we don’t need to install any necessary infrastructure for the traditional implementations. RaaS can utilize already existing on-site robotic hardware by using cloud-based automation techniques and programming. The only requirement is to train the robot by supplying power. It provides us with a faster production environment by adjusting the capabilities on the run.

Source: YouTube

Robotics and IoT

IoT (Internet of Things) and robotics go hand in hand with each other by lowering costs and boosting efficiency at the same time. Generally, they enhance the performance of operations by incorporating more aware and smarter forms of automation. Though traditional robotic automated systems are fairly simple, it certainly doesn’t mean that robots don’t have complex machinery. It means that the operations and duties robots perform are straightforward and repetitive. That’s why robotics have not been suitable where critical thinking and improvisation is required, until recently.

The IoT is drastically transforming robotics and the way automation works. The new technologies are working on robotics with the help of IoT to enable robots to perform unrecognizable operations. The IoT is changing the robotics field by the following:

  • Provides a more cognitive approach to robots that allows them to learn with time
  • Empowers co-bots
  • Enables optimal synchronization
  • Increases control and customization opportunities
  • Enhances the possibilities to explore new concepts
  • Enhances manufacturer as well as end-user convenience
Source: YouTube

Robot Applications in Manufacturing

Robots have become an integral part of the manufacturing industry, enhancing production capabilities while also increasing efficiency and quality. They are commonly utilized in various stages of production, including assembly, packaging, material handling, and inspection.

Particularly in automotive and electronics manufacturing, robots have proven invaluable, executing precise and repetitive tasks with speed and accuracy beyond human capability. Automation with robots helps manufacturers increase production rates, reduce waste, and maintain consistent high-quality output.

Advanced robots equipped with AI capabilities are also being introduced to perform more complex tasks. For instance, collaborative robots, or “cobots,” are designed to work safely alongside humans, assisting in tasks that require more intricate handling or judgment.

AI-powered robots can also learn and adapt to changing conditions, improving their performance over time. As an example, in quality control, machine learning algorithms can help robots identify defects with higher precision than human inspectors. Similarly, predictive analytics can be applied to anticipate maintenance needs of manufacturing machinery, reducing downtime. In summary, the application of robots in manufacturing continues to evolve, playing a pivotal role in shaping the industry’s future.

Picking, Packing, and Palletizing

In the manufacturing sector, robots are revolutionizing processes like picking, packing, and palletizing, enhancing both speed and precision. Automated picking robots, guided by AI and computer vision technology, can accurately select and sort items from a variety of locations, a task that can be time-consuming and prone to error when done manually. In packing, robots can handle a wide array of products, placing them into packaging with a level of speed and accuracy that greatly surpasses human capability. As for palletizing, robots can efficiently stack boxes, bags, crates, or other products onto a pallet in a precise and organized manner. This not only streamlines the process but also reduces the risk of workplace injuries associated with heavy lifting. By automating these processes, manufacturers can significantly increase productivity, improve accuracy, and enhance overall operational efficiency.

Part Transfer

Robots are instrumental in the process of part transfer, effectively streamlining production lines and optimizing workflow. Leveraging advanced AI and automation technologies, these robots can accurately and swiftly move parts within the manufacturing environment. This includes transferring components between different stages of production, from assembly lines to testing or packaging stations.

The application of robots in part transfer eliminates the need for manual labor in tasks that are often repetitive and physically demanding, thus reducing human error and enhancing safety. Furthermore, these robots are designed to handle a broad spectrum of part sizes and weights, which contributes to improved efficiency and versatility in the production process. Through part transfer automation, manufacturers can achieve heightened productivity and more consistent product quality.

Machine Loading

In modern manufacturing, the role of robots extends to machine loading, fundamentally reshaping how production processes are managed. Equipped with sophisticated AI and sensor technologies, these robots are capable of autonomously loading parts into machines for various processes such as machining, molding, or stamping. This takes away the mundane, repetitive tasks from human operators, freeing them for higher-value work.

These robots can function round the clock, significantly boosting productivity and operational efficiency. Furthermore, robotic machine loading improves precision, minimizing the possibility of error and damage. The result is a significant reduction in wastage, improved quality control, and enhanced safety by limiting human interaction with heavy machinery. In essence, the incorporation of robots in machine loading is pivotal in ushering manufacturing into a new era of automation.

Assembly

Robots have become an integral part of assembly lines in manufacturing industries, revolutionizing the way products are assembled. These robotic systems, often equipped with advanced AI algorithms, are programmed to perform precise and repetitive tasks at an impressive speed, ensuring the efficiency and consistency of the production process.

They excel in tasks requiring high precision, such as fitting small components together, where human error can lead to substantial losses. Furthermore, robots can work without fatigue, enabling continuous production that significantly enhances productivity. Moreover, their ability to operate in harsh environments, where conditions may be harmful to human workers, makes them a safer option for certain assembly tasks. Overall, the incorporation of robots in the assembly process leads to increased production speed, improved quality, and reduced costs, making them a valuable asset in modern manufacturing.

Welding

Robots have transformed the process of welding in the manufacturing sector, bringing higher levels of precision, consistency, and safety. These AI-enabled robotic welding systems are programmed to execute welding tasks, often in intricate or hard-to-reach areas, with a level of precision and speed that far surpasses human capabilities.

The robots’ ability to produce consistent, high-quality welds reduces the rate of errors and rework, leading to significant cost savings. Moreover, they are capable of working in harsh or hazardous environments, reducing the potential for workplace injuries and ensuring the wellbeing of human workers. Robotic welding systems can also work continuously without breaks, thereby increasing productivity and efficiency. Thus, the integration of robots in welding processes marks a significant advancement in manufacturing, delivering quality, safety, and efficiency gains.

Painting

The role of robots in manufacturing has greatly expanded to include painting tasks, enhancing efficiency, precision, and safety. Robotic painting systems, equipped with advanced AI technologies, are capable of delivering high-quality, uniform coats of paint across various surfaces with remarkable consistency. Their ability to precisely control the amount of paint dispensed reduces wastage and ensures a smooth, flawless finish.

These robots can effortlessly handle complex shapes and intricate designs, areas that could be challenging for human workers. Importantly, by assuming painting duties, robots eliminate human exposure to potentially hazardous paint fumes and chemicals, thereby improving safety in the workplace. Overall, the application of robots in painting tasks signifies a major leap in manufacturing efficiency, quality control, and worker safety.

Dispensing

The application of robots in dispensing operations within manufacturing has greatly increased precision, speed, and efficiency. In processes that involve dispensing adhesives, sealants, or other materials, robots offer unparalleled consistency and control. Equipped with advanced AI capabilities, these robots can dispense exact amounts at precise locations, minimizing waste and ensuring the highest standards of quality.

They can also easily handle high-volume production needs and are flexible enough to adapt to different materials and product configurations. Robots also provide a safer work environment by handling potentially harmful substances, thus reducing human exposure. The incorporation of robotics in dispensing tasks signifies a substantial step towards improving production efficiency, quality, and safety in manufacturing.

Processing

In the realm of manufacturing, robots have proven to be a transformative tool in processing operations. These sophisticated machines are utilized in a variety of applications, including cutting, milling, drilling, and more. Robots bring remarkable precision, speed, and consistency to these tasks, contributing to higher product quality and improved operational efficiency.

With advancements in AI, robots can be programmed to perform complex processing tasks, even on intricate parts, with less waste and a lower chance of error. Moreover, they can work tirelessly and handle materials and processes that can be hazardous for humans, thus enhancing safety in the workplace. The use of robots in processing not only streamlines production but also opens up opportunities for complex manufacturing that was previously impossible or too costly.

Pros & Cons of Robots in Manufacturing

Pros of Robots in Manufacturing

Enhanced Efficiency and Productivity 

Robots have the ability to operate continuously without the need for breaks, holidays, or shifts, thereby significantly boosting production rates. By performing tasks with a speed and precision that surpass human capabilities, they not only reduce processing time but also minimize errors and waste, leading to improved productivity and efficiency.

Cost Savings

While the initial investment in robotics can be high, the long-term costs of operating and maintaining robots can be significantly lower than employing human labor. This is especially true when it comes to tasks that are repetitive, mundane or hazardous, where robots also reduce the costs related to human errors, workplace injuries, and safety measures.

Improved Safety 

Robots can easily take over hazardous, strenuous and dangerous tasks from humans. This not only protects human workers from potential workplace injuries but also leads to a safer and healthier work environment.

Consistency and High Precision

Robots are immune to the fatigue and distractions that humans are prone to, resulting in a high degree of consistency and repeatability. They can also execute tasks requiring high precision, such as inserting microchips on a board, with ease.

Versatility and Flexibility

Today’s advanced robots can be programmed to perform a wide range of tasks, making them an adaptable resource in the manufacturing process. They can easily switch between different tasks, allowing for seamless adaptation to changes in production requirements.

Cons of Robots in Manufacturing

High Initial Investment

The upfront costs associated with procuring, implementing, and setting up robotic technologies can be substantial, possibly creating a financial barrier for smaller companies or startups.

Requires Technical Expertise 

Robots require specialized technical knowledge to program, troubleshoot, and maintain. Additionally, employees need to be trained to work alongside these automated machines, which could involve substantial time and resources.

Potential Job Displacement

There’s a risk that widespread robotic automation could lead to displacement of human workers, particularly those performing manual, repetitive tasks. This could lead to significant social and economic implications.

Limited Creativity and Problem-Solving Abilities

Despite their efficiency and precision, robots lack the creativity, intuition, and problem-solving skills that humans possess. They’re only as good as their programming and cannot handle unexpected situations or make judgement calls like humans can.

Dependency and Vulnerability

Over-reliance on robots could lead to a lack of skilled human workers ready to step in case of a malfunction or cyber attack. Additionally, robots are susceptible to technical glitches and hacking, potentially leading to production halts and security issues.

How Robotics in Manufacturing Are Evolving

Robotics in manufacturing are rapidly evolving to meet the changing needs of the industry. Advances in AI, machine learning, and sensor technology are ushering in a new era of smart robots that are more capable, flexible, and efficient than ever before. Unlike traditional robots that were limited to performing repetitive tasks, modern robots can learn from their experiences, adapt to new tasks, and work alongside humans in a collaborative manner. This new generation of robots, often referred to as cobots (collaborative robots), are designed with safety features that allow them to sense and respond to their surroundings, making them suitable for a variety of tasks that were previously considered too complex or unsafe for automation. Innovations like cloud robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT) are enabling manufacturers to collect and analyze data from robots in real time, improving decision-making and efficiency. As technology continues to advance, the role of robotics in manufacturing is expected to grow, driving productivity and innovation in the sector.

Future of Robotics in Manufacturing

The future of robotics in manufacturing is poised for radical transformations, driven by emerging technologies and trends. Lights-Out Manufacturing, a concept where factories operate autonomously without the need for human intervention, will redefine the traditional production lines, enabling round-the-clock operations and reducing costs. Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities will further enhance robotics by providing real-time data exchange, predictive maintenance, and seamless integration with other systems in the manufacturing ecosystem.

Lights-Out Manufacturing

The future of robotics in manufacturing is poised for radical transformations, driven by emerging technologies and trends. Lights-Out Manufacturing, a concept where factories operate autonomously without the need for human intervention, will redefine the traditional production lines, enabling round-the-clock operations and reducing costs. 

Internet of Things Capability

Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities will further enhance robotics by providing real-time data exchange, predictive maintenance, and seamless integration with other systems in the manufacturing ecosystem. This IoT-enabled interconnectivity will optimize production efficiency and quality control, fostering a truly smart factory.

Transformations in Cybersecurity

With increased connectivity comes a greater need for cybersecurity. As manufacturing processes become more digitally integrated, the potential for cyber threats grows. To counter this, significant advancements in cybersecurity are expected, aiming to safeguard manufacturing infrastructure and protect confidential data. Thus, the future of robotics in manufacturing will be marked by increased automation, connectivity, and security measures, transforming the way products are made.

Industries That Use Robotics In Manufacturing Industry

The manufacturing industry is at the forefront of utilizing robotics to enhance productivity, efficiency, and quality control. Various sectors within the manufacturing industry are leveraging robotics to streamline operations and meet the demands of a rapidly changing market. Some of the key industries that extensively use robotics in manufacturing include but not limited to.

Automotive Industry

The automotive industry heavily relies on robotics for tasks such as assembly, welding, painting, and quality inspection. Robots are utilized to improve precision, speed up production, and ensure consistent quality in manufacturing vehicles.

Electronics Industry 

In the electronics sector, robots play a crucial role in tasks like circuit board assembly, soldering, component placement, and product testing. These automated systems enable high-speed and accurate production of electronic devices.

Pharmaceutical Industry 

Robotics is increasingly utilized in pharmaceutical manufacturing for tasks like packaging, labeling, sorting, and dispensing medication. Robots ensure accuracy, minimize errors, and enhance efficiency in the production and packaging of pharmaceutical products.

Food and Beverage Industry 

Robotics find applications in food and beverage manufacturing, including tasks such as sorting, packaging, palletizing, and quality inspection. Robots help improve efficiency, maintain hygiene standards, and handle delicate food items with precision.

Aerospace Industry 

The aerospace sector employs robotics for tasks like machining, drilling, welding, and assembling aircraft components. Robots enable precise and complex operations, contributing to the production of high-quality aerospace products.

Plastics and Rubber Industry 

Robotics is extensively used in the plastics and rubber manufacturing industry for tasks such as injection molding, material handling, and packaging. Robots enhance efficiency, reduce cycle times, and improve consistency in producing plastic and rubber products. 

Conclusion – Robotics and manufacturing. 

It’s just a matter of time when robotics will be working in all the manufacturing organizations. That’s why we must take bold steps to adopt RPA. As robotic automation continues to emerge, we’ll experience transforming across the global manufacturing industry like never before.

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02/17/2024 11:26 am GMT

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