Industrial robots are taking over. They have become much more common in the workplace. According to a report by the International Federation of Robotics, the number of robots in factories has almost doubled in recent years.
The 2021 World Robot Report shows that the global number of robots per 10,000 employees rose from 66 to 126 between 2015 and 2020. So which sectors are reaping the rewards?
Here are some of the industries that are adding robots:
Manufacturing and Storage
The nature of manufacturing has changed significantly in recent years, largely due to COVID-19. North American companies bought 11,595 robots in the first quarter of 2022. This record amounted to a staggering 646 million dollars.
Robotics has many benefits for the industry, from improving accuracy to reducing packaging times. Kroger, North America’s largest grocery chain, uses robots in its $55 million warehouse. Robots help pack a variety of food products, such as cereals and vegetables, efficiently.
While some robotic solutions are fixed, such as a robotic arm on a production line, many others are small untethered vehicles for transporting goods and components. These include AGVs (automated guided vehicles) and AMRs (autonomous mobile robots). They come in a variety of forms, including pallet shuttles, mobile platforms, carts, and forklifts. In large and busy logistics operations, robots can reduce labor costs, operate 24/7 and increase picking accuracy to 100%. There is no human error because they are computer controlled.
Health and Medicine
Innovations in robotics have many uses within healthcare, ultimately improving the service patients receive. Complementary robots can transport goods, such as life-changing drugs, around the hospital when nurses are understaffed or stressed. These robots can also disinfect hospital rooms and other areas using UV-C lighting.
Scientists are also working to create microbots, robots that are expected to be as small as a single human cell. These can travel through the patients body and help repair the human body. They can also replace the need for some prescription drugs. Thus, microbots could revolutionize healthcare delivery worldwide.
Manufacture of batteries
The battery manufacturing sector also benefits from the use of robotics. Companies that make cells that are used inside batteries are incorporating robotics into their business operations. This is used during the manufacturing and in-process transportation of products and materials.
Carefully designed, robust and long-lasting lithium-ion battery packs give these applications enough power to run for extended periods of time. The same technology means the robots can be recharged very quickly and redeployed with minimal downtime. Logistics robots would not be possible without batteries because warehouses must be zero-emission environments. Similarly, agricultural robotics can be deployed in the field, supported by solar panel installations, meaning a grid connection is not required to make the transition.
Agricultural robots allow farms and farmers to reduce their overheads for repeatable activities such as seeding, weeding, harvesting and feeding. It also monitors the growth and development of crops using artificial intelligence combined with cameras, determining exactly when a crop is ready to be harvested or even picking individual plants at the optimal time.
Schools and Education
Robotics is also very beneficial within the educational system. Teachers and learning professionals can use robotics to help students within the classroom, from elementary through higher education. There is currently a robot that is designed to communicate with children and ask logical questions.
Not only is this beneficial for students, but these robots will help teachers as class sizes increase. The future is bright for robotics within education. According to Anthony Sheldon, a British education expert, robots will replace teachers as the main educational leaders. Teachers could become assistants in the future.
There seems to be no limit to the usefulness of robotics. Scientists will continue to innovate and create new technologies that exceed our wildest dreams, becoming essential to advancing the industry in which you work. If these are the machines of today, we can only imagine what tomorrow holds.