Industrial robotics is changing

This is a sign that is rarely misleading and augurs well for what is looming in Europe: in the United States, industry has never been so automated as in 2021. COVID-19 has of course been there, but it does not explain everything. Figures from the Association for Advancing Automation are eloquent: purchases of robots, 29,000 units over 9 months, weigh 1.48 billion dollars.

Difficulties in recruiting on night shifts partly explain this leap forward, but not only: the expansion of industries using automation is marked.

The automobile now weighs less than 50% of volumes, and sectors such as agri-food, metallurgy or logistics are now very demanding to automate their production lines, storage areas and warehouses. The evolution is there: by adding bricks of artificial intelligence, robots have improved their efficiency (machine learning) and even their versatility (computer vision), to the benefit of industrial performance.

Easier-to-use robots

In its latest issue on the analysis of trends in robotics, the IFT (International Federation of Robotics), based in Frankfurt, is very clear: the new generations of robots, more advanced, are also easier to use. Their programming has been simplified and hardware/software packages even facilitate their implementation. Lower-cost robotics is spreading, and with it, the field of possibilities is widening!

Many suppliers no longer hesitate to offer standard pre-configurations of their robots, combined with grippers, sensors and controllers. At the same time, the deployment of said robots is based on program routines, to lower the initial cost.

This trend is accompanied by a policy of robot manufacturers with a view to training operators: ABB, FANUC, KUKA and even YASKAWA each have their “robot courses”, in order to increase the skills of their users.

The figure: 3 million industrial robots are operational worldwide*

Intelligent automation is accelerating. While data is the key enabler of future manufacturing and its performance, the indispensable embedded digital is now perfectly digested by robots.

AMRs (autonomous mobile robots), AGVs (autonomous carts) or learning robots (with vision systems and sensors) have entered the current industrial language. They thus participate in the RPA… what is it? Simply intelligent automation: The synergy of robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) in turn boosts end-to-end business process automation and accelerates digital transformation.

The results of the Infopro Digital Studies study speak for themselves. 208 decision-makers from the industry, banking/finance/insurance, retail and service sectors were interviewed. On balance, few companies have yet invested in intelligent automation (18%) but 45% intend to get started very soon! The return on investment is mainly expected on the improvement of performance (57%), but also on the reduction of costs (41%).
*Source IFT

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Industrial robotics is changing


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