The manufacturing sector has seen major shifts from its earliest form as a skilled artisan protecting the trade secrets in the household-based rural sectors to the modern factory system. The transition saw methods of production by hand to machines, from machine tools to mechanized factories. Most of the manufacturing industries dealt with the physical, chemical, or mechanical transformation of goods in mills, plants or factories into new products. These manufacturing units required many repetitive tasks to be carried out with precision and at a faster pace, which paved the way for the introduction of Robots. These robots or industrial robots increased the efficiency of the manufacturing chain from handling raw materials to packaging the finished products without the human drawbacks of errors, breaks for shifts or rest, etc. The AI programmed industrial robots can operate 24/7 to facilitate continuous production and perform most complex functions that would otherwise be time-consuming. The International Federation of Robotics, perceive that more than 3 million industrial robots are in use in factories around the world today.
Industrial Robots in Manufacturing Industries
Industrial robots are one of the greatest technological advancements of the decade. The application of these industrial robots is vast and has made its way into various manufacturing industries. This advancement in technology aims at automating the manufacturing industry using artificial intelligence and industrial robots.
The use of industrial robots in automating the automobile industry has brought about many optimizations in the process of manufacturing. The major change in the automobile industry is the sophisticated visual understanding of the design by the use of advanced hardware such as 3D cameras and other latest technologies. Though Industrial robotic arms were introduced to the manufacturing industry decades ago, a fully automated factory is still a long way from being a reality. The most labor-intensive process in the automobile industry is its assembling unit, and to date, none of the production houses have been able to innovate and fully automate this process.
Here are some of the reasons to use industrial robots in the manufacturing industries.
- Industrial Robots can efficiently handle different tasks in any manufacturing unit from its raw material stage to complete the production stage and onwards to product packaging.
- In any manufacturing unit that requires continuous production, a programmed Industrial Robot can operate round the clock to ensure timely production.
- In the case of complex functions that require high precision, Industrial Robots can be flexible to handle these tasks
- Automation of Industrial Robots in manufacturing industries has reduced human errors and delays caused by repeating tasks after that.
- Automation of industrial robots for any manufacturing unit, big or small alike, can be a cost-effective option.
There is considerable speculation about Industrial Robots reducing the manufacturing jobs
- Industrial Robots create better opportunities for people offshore.
- Manufacturing industries using Industrial Robots help in creating new jobs for people working out of re-shored small units.
- Industrial Robots in manufacturing units take on the mundane jobs of workers paving the way for them to handle more desirable tasks such as managing the equipment, design engineering, programming, management and maintenance, etc.
- The use of Industrial Robots in manufacturing units pave the way for maximizing the skills of the workers and channelize them in better areas of the business.
- The use of Industrial Robots in manufacturing units eliminates the skilled labor shortfall which can be an issue.
Let us look into some of the reasons why automation of these manufacturing units is so difficult.
The use of automation is most beneficial where there is mass production, as this effectively reduces the cost involved. However, on the flip side, the flexibility to produce a small volume of production of short product life cycle products is lost. Humans are more capable of adapting to change and achieving this.
Though there has been rapid advancement in the field of technology, industrial robots do not possess the dexterity that humans do. We have automated most of the assembling processes; however, kitting is still being done by humans due to the complexity of selecting the right components for assembling and packaging.
Industrial robots, however, advanced, cannot replace the intuitive touch of humans. Some of the operations require fine-tuning that only a human can judge and carry out. Teaching an industrial robot can be challenging.
How can Artificial intelligence change the way industrial robots work?
Even though robotic arms or industrial robots have been in use for their precision and accuracy, they needed to cope with the processual and environmental changes, which was indeed challenging. The use of AI on industrial robots has given them the capability to handle varied tasks.
The three areas where we have seen considerable advancements are:
The ability of the human eye to determine any distance, depths, reflective surfaces and deformable objects cannot compare with the most efficient and advanced industrial cameras. With AI and the innovations in machine vision, tremendous progress has made way for scene understanding, segmentation, deep learning, and semantics.
It is very easy for us to understand the idea of carefully arranging items based on size, shape, and delicate conditions. However, programming an industrial robot to arrange items in a certain order, handling them with care or reducing speed even is a challenge.
Also, determining the angle and position of the item picked or placed need specific, precise instructions.
Writing algorithms to achieve these fine motor skills that only humans possess is still far from reality.