In the next five years, the robotics market catering to the industrial and logistics industry will rapidly grow. Today, as much as 80% of warehouses are operated manually, without any sort of automation. This is about to change as the logistics robotic market posted a global market revenue of $1.9 billion in 2016. A study predicted that this will amount to $22.4 billion by 2021. In the same year, annual robot shipments will increase from 40,000 to 620,000 yearly. Due to this, applications of robotics are increasing by the minute.
Many of these companies are taking a cue from Amazon, known for their completely automated distribution companies. Most logistics enterprises are now turning to robotics for increased efficiency, accuracy, and safety.
Applications of Robotics in Industrial Sectors
Robotics affords tons of benefits for the industrial sector. Most of the tasks are carried out without much hassle, with increased efficiency and accuracy, and at a lesser amount of time.
For industrial enterprises, robotics helps in:
Picking, Packing, Palletizing
Since tons of products needs handling a number of times before shipping, picking, packing, and palletizing will help increase speed and accuracy whilst lowering production costs significantly.
Yaskawa is a Japanese brand that uses industrial robotics since 1977. The company has successfully used robots for material handling and packaging.
Robots can be automated to routinely assemble products, particularly those that involve repetitive and tedious tasks. Using robots can increase production output and lessen operational costs.
In the past 30 years, EPSON has been pioneering the use of robots for small parts assembly products and was pivotal in introducing compact SCARA robots.
Mechanical Cutting, Deburring, Grinding, and Polishing
Creation of robots with dexterity has helped industrial enterprises manufacturing options that used to be impossible to automate. Robots can produce items faster with precision. One advantage of using robots with dexterity is the production of orthopaedic implants. These products normally take an hour or so to buff and polish but robots can do it in a matter of minutes.
Adhesive Sealing and Spraying Materials
Sealer robots can have several arm configurations that will allow it to reach difficult areas of the operation. Robotics can improve the quality and consistency of the final product.
Applications of Robotics in Logistics Sectors
Large distribution companies often operate globally, supplying several countries. For this reason, these companies require a rapid and efficient logistics automation system to allow the operations to run smoothly.
For logistics enterprises, robotics helps in:
Loading and Unloading of Containers
Most goods are shipped in a container from overseas. To maximise the space, these products are often not palletized so they are stacked from floor to ceiling. Whilst this was a problem in robotics before it has now resolved by the inclusion of 3D laser vision that allows the robots to look and analyse the products loaded in the container. Through this, they can identify the best loading and unloading sequence they must follow to carry out the task with accuracy.
Most products need custom packaging before shipping them out to retailers. Some items need bulk packaging or specially packaged for a discount. Most robots will find it hard to accomplish this task as they need to deal with different quantities, shapes, and sizes of the products plus they have to do it along with humans inside a warehouse or factory.
The creation of collaborative robots has addressed this issue. These robots are specially designed to work and accomplish their tasks safely even with the presence of humans. Also called cobots, these collaborative robots do not have any sharp edges and have programs that allow them to shut down when they bump into an object. In various logistics enterprises, these collaborative robots undergo training to let humans guide the hands to learn the motion needed to accomplish the task. This speeds up the process of custom packaging and reduces the need for programming.
Stationary Piece Picking
Distribution warehouses have products that need constant sorting. Before, piece picking is an impossible task for robots as they do not have programming that allows them to choose items to pick. Today, robot arms now have vision systems that allow it to recognise the product and decide whether it should be picked up or not.
Top Industries Using Robotics
Statistics from the World Robotics Report reveal that in 2018, about 384,000 units global shipments occurred. The report also mentioned that both the Automotive and Electronics industry are still the largest markets for robots. The following industries are now embracing the benefits of robotics:
Robotics in agriculture helps in increasing productivity whilst reducing the possible overall costs. Farmers are currently using harvesters and tractors equipped with self-guided GPS. There is also an increasing use of spraying, mowing, thinning, pruning, and weed removal. Managing crop diseases and pests is easier with the use of sensor technology.
Applications of robotics are changing the healthcare practise in a variety of ways. Robotics instruments currently in use in healthcare are not, in any way, a replacement for healthcare professionals but merely to assist them and make their workload easier. One for the notable robotics instruments in healthcare is the da Vinci Surgical System that uses an operating surgeon’s hand movements to manipulate small instruments inside the patient’s body. This is advantageous for minimally invasive surgical procedures like colorectal, cardiac, thoracic, gynecologic, and urologic.
Robotics also assists stroke and paralysed patients in guiding them during rehabilitation. These robots can also help nurses in lifting immobile or elderly patients.
Robotics in manufacturing helps in increasing productivity whilst improving efficiency. Like healthcare, robots in manufacturing work with human workers to accomplish repetitive, tedious, and monotonous tasks. The workers will guide and control the robots for improved precision. The reprogramming robots is easy to allow them to accomplish more specific and complex tasks.
The military is one of the industries that highly benefit from robotics technology. Unmanned drones are one of the examples widely used in the military. These drones offer support for operations and surveillance on the battlefield. It can also be used for rescue operations to assess danger levels to assist first responders and soldiers in their initial approach as they can get real-time information.
Robotic devices are already establishing a wide presence in several commercial industries. As robotic technologies become more affordable, they will soon be available in various forms for consumers as well, with the ability to impact our lives in countless ways.