One of the hottest topics in manufacturing continues to be collaborative robotics, an advanced technology that allows robots to work side-by-side with humans on plant floors. Rather than replacing human workers, these smart robotics work safely beside them and can even roam free on factory floors. With safety sensors that prevent them from running into humans, they no longer need to be caged or bolted to the floor. But more importantly, they are able to perform a variety of tasks and can adapt to real-world variability. They are agile enough to change applications quickly, and can perform tasks like people do.
“Applications that are very repetitive, mundane tasks that require an operator to stand at a machine all day or sometimes all night long, loading/unloading and initiating processes. That’s the exact type of application suited for our product,” says Edward Mullen, National Sales Manager for Universal Robots USA Inc. in Stony Brook, New York. “It’s very easy to use and set up; and it can be picked up and moved around the facility very easily.” And while some of these robots are priced well into the six figures, small to medium sized companies can find them as low as $20,000 making them much more affordable.
According to RethinkRobotics.com, they’re the perfect fit for many of the 90% of manufacturing tasks that can’t be practically automated today. So are collaborative robots just a passing fade? Not likely, based on a study from The Boston Consulting Group. Industrial robots for factory automation are expected to account for the largest chunk of investment, growing from nearly $6 billion in 2010 to more than $24 billion by 2025.
Are your customers among the industry leaders that embrace robotics? Based on research done by ManufacturingGlobal.com, top leaders in robotics are Amazon, Caterpillar, Siemens, Panasonic, Boeing, Bosch, Northrop Grumman, Foxconn Technology Group, Honda Robotics, ABB Robotics and Lockheed Martin.
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