In manufacturing, automation is used to perform repetitive, mundane or dangerous tasks with minimal (or no) human intervention. These days, automotive manufacturers are still a top automation adopter, along with avionic, consumer goods, food and beverage, and medical instrument manufacturing organizations.
In an industry that’s constantly trying to up production without adding cost, automation technology is a boon. With it comes:
Of course, there are always drawbacks. For instance, many companies struggle with the high startup costs of automation-related hardware, software and talent acquisition. Some manufacturers aren’t a great fit for robotics simply due to what they produce. Complex detailing such as is found in fine jewelry production may be too complicated for current robotic capabilities.
Compared to the early robotics days of the 1950s, industrial robotics systems boast higher computing power, better visual capacity and more precise movement capabilities. However, most still need to operate in a highly structure environment that’s controlled by human workers.
For small- and medium-sized production facilities, today’s robots are sometimes too inflexible to be cost-effective. They’re so specialized in their abilities that they’re usually best used in long production runs by large manufacturers.
Luckily, Robotics as a Service (RaaS) is gaining traction.
Some robotics companies are using the RaaS model to help manufacturers gain access to automation technology without having to pay huge overhead costs. These contracts can also include preventive and corrective maintenance, so the manufacturer doesn’t have to find and train the right human workers themselves.
Automation adoption is expected to rise exponentially in the next decade. Particularly, after the COVID-19 pandemic, manufacturers are looking to technology to keep their workers safe and avoid future disruption.
Other changes that will expand adoption include: