Automation is fast becoming a common part of many industries, with the following being just six of those that have gained from using the technology:
According to analysts, if automation was not being used, the automotive industry would not have been able to pull back from the Great Recession. Automation is used to help automotive plants to deal with shortages in labor. And in many plants and factories, the robots work side-by-side with humans, helping to get more done in less time. One of the most common uses of robots in this sector is the huge robotic arms used for spraying paint on the vehicles.
These days, there is a huge demand for large, flat-screen televisions, smartphones, tablets, earbuds, and all sorts of other electronic gadgets. One country in particular, China, has capitalized on the use of automation in this sector and the number of robots now working in electronics in China has now more than doubled.
An audio accessories manufacturer in Germany called Beyerdynamic set themselves a tough goal of increasing factory floor productivity by 50% over a period of four years. And to achieve that goal, they implemented Robitiq, a two-fingered gripper and wrist camera that picked speakers up and put them in dedicated areas for being sprayed with glue. They also implemented the Universal Robot UR 5 to do the actual glue spraying. Between them, these two automated solutions achieved that 50% productivity increase. And in spite of there being limited floor space in the factory, human workers say that the robots are very easy to work alongside. The company is now planning to train up the machine to do other things, such as inserting the screws and assembling the product for sale.
The health sector has also seen huge benefits from automation. One hospital in the San Francisco Bay area is using several dozen robots, named TUGs, for the transportation of medications and medical supplies. Robots are also being utilized to assist in surgeries. And one semi-autonomous flesh-cutting bot, in particular, performed far better than their human counterparts in terms of precision, and in reducing the amount of damage to the surrounding areas.
Just last year, a robot was used to assist in a delicate eye surgery that involved retinal growth. This is the first time this has happened. But although the operation had been performed previously without automation, it is a risky approach. Because even the tiniest movement, such as blood pumping through the hand of the surgeon, is sufficient to affect how accurate the incision is.
Automated bots are also being used to assist with answering questions, making appointments, checking patients take their medications, get their prescriptions, and even make diagnoses.
While most welders still prefer to fuse metal manually, a lot of welding companies have found that using robotic welding equipment can reduce waste, and provide fast and accurate results without human intervention. One welding company, Onkens, used automation to relieve labor shortages. And once the Motoman robot, develop in China, was installed, they found their output doubled and ended up transitioning some of their human welders onto other tasks.
The concept of automation in the food services industry is one that is growing fast. Several factors, including minimum wage requirements, and the increasing cost of materials, has led to more and more restaurants using robotics to make some tasks more efficient and uniform — be it flipping burgers or preparing salads. Little Caesar has patented a robotic arm that can spread pizza dough, add the toppings and put the pizza into the over, while a fast-food chain called CaliBurger uses Flippy, a robotic arm that can flip 150 burgers per hour.
At chain restaurants, customers expect to receive the same kind of experience, regardless of what country or region the restaurant is in. And to meet that expectation, automation is being used more and more, with robots that perform unfailingly and carry out orders that are preprogrammed into them.
Back in 2016, more than 200 robots were taken out of military service and placed into law enforcement agencies. While some people do have concerns about robotics being used for policing, the bots in use in the USA today do not tend to demonstrate the kind of deadly force you might expect them to. Instead, these machines are used for bomb deactivation, to gather and analyze details about potentially dangerous situations, and report their findings back to human officers. They are also capable of being able to rescue people from situations that are too dangerous for humans.
There are also robots being developed to act as a kind of neighborhood watch, recording incidents of public drunkenness, noise violation, public disorder, etc. These then pass the details to human officers to take action.
Robotic automation can be applied successfully to just about any industry and this list is just the tip of the iceberg. Today, humans and robots work side by side with most robots freeing up humans to concentrate on other aspects of their job.
Progress is so rapid that, in a short time, we will see automated robotics as a common way of life.