Robotic manufacturing systems may be a relatively new concept for some parts of the manufacturing sector, although the technology has existed for decades. By combining traditional production methods with higher forms of technology, factory managers and business owners can exponentially increase their production rates and boost their bottom line.
Robots have changed manufacturing in a myriad of positive ways. The impact of automated manufacturing spreads far and wide, improving productivity and success for the entire company. When human employees are freed from tasks that robots can easily perform, they can extend more of their energy to contributing much-needed knowledge and ideas within higher organizational roles. When implemented correctly, robotics creates an undeniable upward shift within a business’s operations.
If you’re curious whether robots can enhance your value stream, here are the main benefits to consider.
Early History Of Industrial Robot (1954 – 1979)
The early history of industrial robots had imperfect intellect, self-sufficiency, and operative gradations of independence. They were frequently intended to accomplish one or more groups of monotonous tasks in an extremely measured setting.
- Versatran, designed by Harry Johnson and Veljko Milenkovic, and mass-produced and marketed by AMF trade and Business in 1960.
- UNIMATE, mass-produced by Unimation, was the initial manufacturing robot to be used by a major constructor. It was used by General Motors at its New Jersey plant in 1962.
- Famulus, industrialized by German robotics company KUKA in 1973, had six electromechanically-driven hatchets.
- The Silver Arm, advanced by Prof. Victor Scheinman in 1974, was proficient in executing small-parts get-together jobs consuming feedback from touch and gravity sensors. Its industrial kind, mass-produced by Vicarm Inc, originated by Scheinman, was measured by a minicomputer.
- ASEA IRB, erected by a European corporation called ASEA in 1975, was the world’s first fully electrically determined robot. It was also the original microprocessor-controlled robot and used Intel’s first chipset.
- Motoman L10, the foremost robot established by Yaskawa America Inc. in 1977, had five battle-axes and was gifted to move 10kg of heaviness with its gripper.
- PUMA, an industrial robot arm planned by Prof. Victor Scheinman and established by Vicarm, Unimation with funding from General Motors in 1978, was cast-off in meeting lines and is still used by scholars and scientists today.
- Nachi Automation of Japan established the first servo gun technology robot for advertisement welding in 1979.
- OTC Japan introduced the first generation of enthusiastic arc welding robots in 1979.
Modern Industrial Robotic Arms (1980 – present day):
From 1980, industrial robotic arms began to be made in huge numbers, with an innovative robot being familiarized in the market at the rate of one a month. These robots are microprocessor-controlled and are shrewder and have a higher degree of operative freedom.
- The first industrial robotic arm with motors connected straight into the linkages of its support. It was constructed by Takeo Kanade in 1981. This strategy made it quicker and more precise than earlier robotic arms.
- Yaskawa America Inc. announced the Motoman ERC rheostat structure in 1988. It had the aptitude to switch up to 12 axes, the maximum number of axes at the time.
- FANUC Robotics Company manufactured a model of the first brainy robot in 1992.
- Motoman ERC controller system was promoted in 1994 to bounce the aptitude to rheostat up to 21 axes. It could coordinate the gestures of two robots.
- The Motoman XRC organizer presented in 1998 had the skill to control up to 27 axes. This gave it the facility to harmonize the gestures of three to four robots.
- In 1998, the Motoman UP sequence presented a modest robot arm that was additionally easily reachable for mending and preservation.
- The Almega AX succession, announced by OTC DAIHEN in 2003, is a stroke of curve welding and treatment robots.
Robotic in industry revolution
Robotics is a major and a very important component of Industrial Automation. The balance maintained in the factories and shop floors by bringing in robotics and automation has transformed the work processes and uplifted the efficiency manifolds. The use of automation and robotics is transforming various industries in this advanced era. Robots are now an essential component of many industries’ manufacturing processes because of the accuracy they provide and their capacity to work for prolonged hours without fatigue.
When Industrial Robotic Projects first emerged, they brought along confusion and denial. Automation is widely used in many industries today, from healthcare to agriculture, despite the fact that it was once more theoretical than practical in many of them.
During the first phase of this revolution, electric machines were introduced that performed repetitive tasks without fatigue. These robots were used in the automobile industry and other similar applications. The second phase brought industrial robots that besides performing basic tasks also absorbed data to evolve and become better. Today, robots have revolutionized a lot of important industries, some of which include:
Healthcare is not only one of the fastest-growing industries, but it’s also one of the most developed sectors. With the passage of time, it has developed quickly benefitting from new technologies and innovations, including Robotic automation. A range of Robots is now specially designed for medical applications in environments that require very low particle emissions such as pharmaceutical, medical or semiconductors industries.
The Automobile Industry
Small robots and robotic automation are needed to meet the automotive industry’s changing demands, allowing the top two-wheeler manufacturers to create vehicles that are safer, more comfortable, environmentally friendly, efficient, and prepared for the future. Due to their high accuracy and flexibility, some robots can highlight every aspect of the workpiece, including quality assurance, haptic measurements, and the assembly of intricate components. These robots are capable of carrying out their duties 24 hours a day at full speed.
Compared to other sectors, the food industry puts robotic automation to selective use. But with time, this industry is growing at a very fast pace and the diversity of possible applications such as pick-and-place raw material or processed food items, slicing, cutting, sorting, dispensing and many other activities would need robots in the near future. Considering the stricter hygiene standards, some robots are capable of tracing the products and processes included in producing it. These robots are becoming an integral part of the ecosystem today and will be the same in the future as well. Such robots ensure and assure the quality even for waterproof specification and for food-grade grease under hygiene-related guidelines from the US NSF (National Sanitation Foundation)
Industry producing semiconductor & electronics
A horizontal, multiple-joint robot with a space-saving suspended installation mode is suitable for a wide range of applications, from the precision assembly of electrical, electronic and other small components to inspections, high-speed transportation and packaging. SCARA robots, drive products, power distribution and control products, computerized numerical controllers, and a wide variety of other products and solutions better offer technical support.
The Future of Robotic Automation
With Industry 4.0 in place, robotic process automation will gradually expand its footprint in other important industries as well as the divisions of current ones, highlighting their significance in the contemporary manufacturing process.
Importance of Automation in Industry 4.0
We are in the midst of an advanced industrial revolution that allows complex machinery and processes to be managed much more effectively and affordably than ever before. By reducing the need for human labour in redundant and dangerous processes, automation allows businesses to focus on critical operations, energy usage, and safety. Because of the numerous technological changes that are affecting our industries, there is an urgent need for high-end, precise products that can only be met by high levels of productivity. Engineering systems, automated manufacturing, and industrial automation all play a role here.
Industry 4.0 and automation, are currently taking shape thanks to technologies such as AI, 5G, advanced automation, advanced sensing, and many others which have significantly altered how various industries operate and how their processes are carried out. Automation in Industry 4.0 places a strong emphasis on efficiency and optimization while significantly reducing the possibilities for errors. In a manual process where the margin of error can reach up to 10% when humans carry out the work, an automated platform can reduce it significantly.
The Reasons Why Industrial Automation and Robotic Automation Is Important
More manufacturers than ever before are turning to automation to remain competitive in the global marketplace. Small businesses and large companies alike are now increasingly relying on robotic automation to free human laborers of repetitive tasks and boost productivity. With affordable industrial robots that are safe to work alongside humans, integrated with computer vision, utilize machine learning, and equipped with soft touch grippers, the many benefits of robotic automation are growing everyday.
If you are a manufacturer, regardless of your company’s size, and considering robotic automation for your factory, keep in mind the following top ten benefits that apply to all manufacturing applications across industries:
Accuracy and Consistency
Human error has long been a necessary evil in manufacturing. If human workers are required on a production line, a certain margin of error should be tolerated. Robotic systems, however, are by nature both accurate and consistent in their output. Therefore, error and subsequent waste is dramatically reduced, increasing the efficiency and productivity of the production line.
Increased cost savings
By reducing production lead times and increasing total productivity, industrial robots can help reduce total manufacturing costs by 20% to 60%. Operating costs are also reduced as valuable human labor can be reallocated from repetitive tasks to strategic tasks. For some small manufacturers, the cost of installing an industrial robot might seem too high initially; however, the cost of robots has decreased by more than 50% over the past 30 years1, and recouping the cost of an automated robot and realizing a profit can be made on average within two years2. Some manufacturers have even reduced this timeframe to under one year.
Robots don’t get unfocused or need to take breakdowns. They don’t appeal for holiday time or ask to leave an hour early. A robot will not ever feel worried out and start consecutively slower. They also don’t need to be requested to remember meetings or training sessions. Robots can work all the time and this speeds up construction. They keep your teams from having to overtask themselves to meet high-pressure limits or unbearable values.
Due to the nature of industrial automation technology, production is continuous and operational 24*7. As a result, it provides competitive advantages in terms of increased productivity, capacity, and process quality, while minimizing task errors and the cost of downtime.
The time for information processing is reduced due to Automation 4.0. For the storage and management of data generated by processes, the platform has a sizable capacity.
Boosted productivity and efficiency
By implementing robotic automation and taking advantage of the benefits of robotic labor, manufacturers can boost the productivity and efficiency of their factories. Industrial robots can work non-stop for 24 hours, unattended, every single day. They can be programmed to make precise, repetitive movements that are quick and reliable. This enhanced level of production can help dramatically increase the total output of a factory and elevate the role of factory workers. When you use Forge/OS to program your robots, they can be easily introduced to your production lines more efficiently, which accordingly reduces cycle lead times and increases total efficiency.
The automotive industry, for example, has seen a 50% increase in productivity through robotic process automation (RPA) since 2009.
Upgraded product quality
Unlike human laborers that may make occasional errors, industrial robots are programmed to execute very specific tasks over and over again without any variability, which results in improved product consistency and higher overall quality. By reducing the likelihood of errors occurring during production, manufacturers aren’t only improving product quality. They are also saving time and resources that would otherwise be spent on correcting errors. Manufacturers can benefit from consistently high product quality as long as they properly service and maintain their industrial robots.
The automated processes are controlled, monitored, and recorded to generate the big data that helps to identify patterns, improve operations, and implement changes to prevent future task errors.
Automation is expected to grow at an exponential rate on a global scale in the coming years which is going to give a rapid rise to the growth and development of Robotics in the Industrial division. At the same time, many countries are embracing Industry 4.0 at a reasonable pace and has seen exceptional growth as a result of recent automation advances. Industry 5.0 is a more recent trend that emphasizes immediate customer service, personalization, and the integration of humans and cobots (collaborative robots) to be proactive in the new industrial automation model and embrace new technological advancements.
Better Jobs for Humans
Working on the production line can be incredibly risky, with health and safety challenges a serious concern for employers and employees alike. One of the benefits of robots in manufacturing is the chance to remove human workers from harm’s way, elevating them to more meaningful roles within the company.
Some may have worried that jobs would be lost to robots due to automation. In fact, the opposite is true. By automating monotonous and manual tasks, humans are now being elevated to roles where their skills and abilities can be used and developed, and with the development of new skills comes career progression and better income.
What’s more, automation in Manufacturing has the added benefit of creating new roles that did not previously exist. Robots will need servicing, and software developers, programmers and other experts will be required to keep the automated production line running smoothly.
In the past, a new factory infrastructure would be required for each new iteration of a product which is, of course, both costly and time-consuming. Software-controlled robots, on the other hand, can be reprogrammed at any point to incorporate design changes and other alterations without overhauling the production line infrastructure.
Human staff on the production line would also need to be retrained or briefed on any changes, meaning further lost production time. With a reduction of human staff on the production line, and agile software to power it instead, production can continue relatively uninterrupted. This flexibility is important in cases where products are regularly upgraded (such as electronics).
To survive in a competitive and fast-changing industrial landscape and to remain profitable and competitive, it is necessary to stay abreast of technological developments and master them ahead of your competitors.
History shows us that those who adopt technology earlier are those which survive longer, whilst those which fail to innovate ultimately end up closing their doors. Robotics and automation are serious business, and now is the time to act.
Heightened customer satisfaction
By reducing product variability and increasing the rate at which new products are released for purchase, customers are likely to be much happier with production outputs. Higher customer satisfaction can result in higher word-of-mouth referrals and positive product reviews, which in turn generate more revenue for your business. Industrial robots can ensure that product consistency can yield a steadfast level of customer satisfaction, and also ensure that the new product changes that are requested by customers are executed as quickly and as seamlessly as possible.
Advanced data analytics
Most industrial robots are equipped with machine vision technology and wireless Internet connections, which enables them to track detailed data about production in a way that human observers are unable to. The latest generations of robots can integrate all information from its sensors to analytics applications, like Forge/Sight, giving factory owners, managers, and operators access to thorough production data that can reveal new opportunities for process improvement.
Additionally, industrial robots can use more detailed data analysis and machine learning to check the quality of the products it’s producing, thus reducing the amount of post-manufacturing inspection that is needed.
Precision in production can empower manufacturers to maximize material usage and minimize the waste of resources throughout the factory. Industrial robots are programmed to be precise and consistent in product creation, which means that materials are used only exactly as needed. For example, industrial robots can ensure that the most minimal paint is applied for product development and that the least amount of wire is used for welding. This helps manufacturers to save money and achieve conservation in factories.
Gained floor space
Many industrial robots today have been built on compact and mobile bases to fit in small spaces. Robots can not only be moved around on a mobile base, but they can also be mounted on ceilings, walls, and more – all of which helps to save floor space within a factory. By producing output in smaller spaces, industrial robots help manufacturers to save valuable space that could be utilized for other production activities. It may be more common for non-automated manufacturers to spread out their production tools and materials throughout an entire factory floor; alternatively, automation can help manufacturers save space, as well as time, for factory workers that can now complete their tasks within a smaller footprint.
Elevated workplace safety
Industrial robots are able to take on repetitive tasks that may otherwise be very dangerous or hazardous for human employees. For example, lifting too much weight, working with blades or lasers, exposure to fire or gases, and more, may be life-threatening for your factory workers. Manufacturers can proactively safeguard their employees by shifting this type of dangerous work to industrial robots that are equipped to perform them. This helps to reduce accidents and injuries in the factory work environment and helps workers to stay healthy in the long term.
Freeing workers for higher-value tasks
As tedious and repetitive tasks are taken on by industrial robots, manufacturers can greatly benefit from having their valuable human labor focus on high-level tasks that require greater strategy, expertise, and flexibility. Manufacturing workers can help contribute directly to the future success of the company by focusing on strategic ways to improve production and drive revenue; this can include focusing on new product innovations or new ways to drive production efficiency. These more engaging tasks will not only help the company, but can also help factory workers feel fulfilled in their efforts, thereby reducing employee turnover and alleviating hiring challenges
These benefits of industrial automation make it clear why a robotic approach to production is now present in manufacturing companies of all sizes and industries worldwide. Even small manufacturing companies today can now compete globally with large multinationals due to the great benefits of robotic automation.