Intelligent automation is increasingly being applied in businesses; don’t get left behind
Robotic automation, also known as robotisation, involves the automation of manufacturing and other business processes through the use of robots in different forms. Industrial robots, for example, are used in manufacturing, taking over tasks normally associated with or performed by a human being. These include tasks such as welding, shipping, assembly line work, materials handling, and product packaging. Software robots are also part of robotic automation, in that they are created to render generic automation capability, and are configured to perform manual, repetitive tasks as exemplified by the chatbots people encounter the first time they visit a website.
Business owners who are unfamiliar with the concept of robotic automation naturally hesitate when it comes to decision-making regarding investing in this technology. Even as a number of industries or businesses have already begun adopting this technology, the biggest concern of a business owner is usually the substantial expense which goes into investing in robotic automation. This is why it is essential to provide information on what concerns or problems adopting this technology can solve. Moreover, there is a need to adequately explain exactly how a business can benefit from robotic automation.
Here are the benefits of robotic automation:
- It helps create jobs: One of the biggest fears people, in general, have regarding robotic automation is that it will lead to job losses. What happens with robotic automation is that it enables companies to create more jobs to address the need for robotic automation. More jobs in the robotics field and associated careers are created with the increasing adoption of robotic automation since humans are necessary to operate and service the machines. Engineers, programmers, operators, end-effector designers, data analysts, and systems integration and robot manufacturing professionals will all be in high demand. For local businesses relying on low-cost labour overseas, adopting robotic automation means that manufacturers can start saving on production costs. There will be no more need to outsource work overseas. Moreover, the adoption of robotic automation will help generate jobs for skilled UK citizens or local professionals into the robotics and associated fields.
- It is extremely adaptable: Industrial robotic automation can be applied across a number of businesses and industries. In automobile manufacturing, for example, robots have taken over assembly line work. In healthcare, robotic automation is already being implemented in surgery, rehabilitation, therapy, and other everyday activities. Other sectors that have also adopted robotic automation include agriculture, food preparation, and the military. Moreover, the use of software robots is envisioned to automate typically mundane, repetitive, and functional features of clerical work. This leaves humans more time to engage in high-level roles which require complex decision-making tasks, as well as analysis.
- It is cost- and time-efficient: Not everyone is aware of this, but robots have been in use in manufacturing since the 1960s. UNIMATE was the first industrial robot used by General Motors (GM) in 1962. Manufactured by the company Unimation, this robot was installed for use in the New Jersey plant of GM. Back then, robots were even more expensive and required more time in terms of installation. These days, however, robots can be installed relatively faster and at a lower cost. Moreover, quality enhancements, as well as highly regulated safety standards can mean significant savings in terms of labour costs. Robots can remain in operation for hours on end, thereby positively impacting productivity. And with the development of predictive maintenance software, production downtimes can become virtually nonexistent.
- It is scalable: Most businesses can invest in robotic automation – not just big companies. The scalable nature of robotic automation technology means that even growing businesses can benefit from it. The technology can be adapted to low- to medium-volume manufacturing settings. Robots can be easily programmed and set up to perform specific tasks. The availability of mobile bases also enables robots to be moved around a manufacturing facility to perform specific tasks.
- It is easy to program: Unlike before, there’s no need to memorise complex programming commands or language to teach robots their tasks. One method of teaching a robot is through offline programming where a complete cell or work area model is used, and the sequence of moves required to perform a task are given. A second method called a teach pendant allows an engineer or programmer to guide the robot through a series of steps. To check if the robot has learned or stored the instructions, some fine-tuning is done as well as multiple test runs to ensure that the robot can successfully perform tasks at full speed.
- It can protect workers from repetitive, boring, and high-risk jobs: There’s no denying the fact that industrial work poses a lot of risks to workers. Robotic automation reduces safety risks as robots can take over typically dangerous tasks. This has already been proven in mining, oil rig operations, and even in fire accident rescues. Moreover, the performance of repetitive, mundane tasks is known to stress some people, such as workers in meat processing plants. Eventually, they lose interest in their job because it holds no meaning. This, in turn, leads to high turnover rates in such companies
- It ensures product quality and consistency: Businesses that greatly depend on delivering high quality, dependable products can significantly benefit from robotic automation. Product defects, no matter how small, can spell disaster for a business and result in huge losses. Automobile or equipment gear, for example, require high levels of reliability, precision, and durability. Any issues or oversights during manual inspections can be disastrous and even fatal for end-users. With robotic automation, you can get the accuracy and efficiency demanded of quality-sensitive products.
- It offers traceability: Robots run on and are programmed to collect or capture data during operations. This data collection enables users to further analyse information to facilitate productivity enhancements. This, in turn, helps to maintain or even increase productivity levels, thereby accelerating the return on investment for robotic automation.
- It allows for the optimal use of floor space: Robots can be designed to fit into compact bases that can easily be accommodated in confined spaces. Robots can also be mounted on ceilings, shelves, walls, and rail tracks aside from the floor. Their efficiency and productivity are not affected by how much or how little space there is.
- It can help reduce waste and save energy: Robotic automation entails streamlining processes and equipment. This means that less space, water, and energy is used. Less scrap and other waste materials is also another beneficial outcome of automation. These effects can greatly reduce the environmental footprint of a business as well as save the company real money.
The above are just some of the major benefits robotic automation promises businesses.
Martin Thomas, European Marketing Manager at Radwell said “Based on this information, it’s easy to see why early adopters of the technology have not looked back and are even keen on investing further in robotic automation. These early adopters are already benefiting from increased market penetration. Investing in robotics is set to become widespread as it has already been proven to increase efficiency, productivity, enhance and maintain product quality, and streamline workflow, and increase revenue, among other things.”
Investing in robotic automation now is an urgent requirement. It is a timely need that will certainly set early adopters apart from their competitors.