Automation and robotics are two of the most disruptive influences in factory settings today. What is more, they don’t seem anywhere near disappearing from the scene any time soon. If anything, it appears they are likely to become a permanent feature of the manufacturing industry. More than that, they also face a few emerging trends, as you will see below.
IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) Technology
For years, the Internet of Things has been like a juggernaut that nothing could stop. Today, that remains the case. That explains why – at least partly so – why it has become part of the factory automation and robotics. Factories have realized that they can’t avoid IIoT anymore. An example of such technology is evident in smart sensors, which help in:
- Capturing the sort of data that manufacturers were previously unable to acquire during production
- Improving efficiency and productivity
Automation and robotics have also seen the emergence of industrial cybersecurity. Today’s factory is full of different systems that share the same network with others. For this reason, risks related to cybersecurity are always near or just on the verge of exploding and causing untold damage. Manufacturers are relying on automation to limit these vulnerabilities.
Big Data Analysis
Big data is turning into a competitive differentiator. In other words, manufacturers that have no way of implementing systems that are capable of organizing and analyzing all the data they collect right on the factory floor will be greatly disadvantaged. For this reason, your organization can’t hope to succeed in the 21 Century if it continues ignoring big data analysis.
Implementation of Open Automation Architectures
The continued widespread adoption of robotics and factory automation is causing not only the growth but also embrace of open automation architectures. The purpose of all this is to ease robotic integration within the factory, thereby improving productivity and efficiency. More importantly, the implementation of these architectures also improves product compatibility.
More Human-to-Robot Collaboration
Moving forward, there is no doubt that humans will have to learn different ways of collaborating better with robots. An example of this is in the assembly line where workers are already working closely with robots to assemble cars. As we move, there will be little difference between the quality of products made by human hands vis-à-vis those made by robots.
Increased Popularity and Growth of Collaborative Robots
The factories are home to different types of robots and automation processes. In the near future, there is a strong belief that more collaborative robots will be permanent features on the production lines. Such robots are programmed to learn multiple tasks fast, thus making them capable of offering the assistance that human beings need. The collaborative robot (Cobot):
- Doesn’t augment the abilities of any human worker
- Doesn’t take the place or replace any human worker
- Is capable of learning tasks via reinforcement learning and constant demonstrations
What is more, collaborative robots are dissimilar to autonomous robots, which are hard-coded:
- To perform a single task repeatedly
- To work independently
- To remain stationary
Autonomous robots dominate the factory settings today. However, a shift is taking place, and soon, collaborative robots will have replaced their autonomous cousins. For this reason, factories and manufacturing firms must start looking at ways of increasing their investments in cobots. They have to prepare the workplace for the arrival and possible domination of cobots.
Robotic Engineering Training
Where would all this automation take place without the necessary manpower? Based on this, it is increasingly becoming clearer that humans have to go through training to know how to install and operate automation processes. Otherwise, everything would be a disaster. Therefore, expect to see more students graduating from college with degrees and qualifications in the following:
- Unified robotics
- Industrial robotics
- Computer science
Therefore, start getting ready to see the emerging trends listed above, taking over the world of factory automation and robotics. A close study of the existing factory will show that more is already happening. Manufacturers are making huge investments to ensure that their operations are fully automated with all the necessary robotics technology in place too.