Like it or not, robots aren't leaving the manufacturing industry any time soon. In reality, manufacturers will use more robots as the technology continues to enter the mainstream.

5 Ways Robotics Are Being Used in Smart Manufacturing

Kayla Matthews | Productivity Bytes

Like it or not, robots aren't leaving the manufacturing industry any time soon. In reality, manufacturers will use more robots as the technology continues to enter the mainstream.

Next-gen robots aren't always relegated to the most menial or dangerous jobs either — some of them make mission-critical decisions and learn new functionality as time progresses.

There are plenty of uses for advanced robotics in smart manufacturing operations of tomorrow, including the following five.

 

1. Collaborative Operations

Collaborative robots — also known as cobots — are helping their human counterparts feel more comfortable with increased automation on the factory floor. Instead of competing against human workers or replacing them entirely, cobots work alongside people to help them achieve greater levels of productivity than ever before. It's a scenario that benefits everyone involved.

 

2. Quality Assurance and Inspection

Quality assurance and inspection roles are ideal for robots. What is often viewed as a monotonous and highly stressful job for humans is easily filled by next-gen robots — and they won't complain.

QA-oriented robots are a welcome addition to nearly any smart factory. Not only can they repeat their job as many times as needed — without even a minor deviation — but they can also inspect the smallest parts and pieces, perform microscopic measurements and ensure uniformity on a level that the human eye cannot match.

 

3. Conveyor-Driven Assembly Lines

Although conveyor belts are nothing new, they still play a major part in smart factories of the future. Not much has changed in their design either. Conveyors are meant to transport parts, pieces and finished goods from one area of a factory to another, but they require regular maintenance to keep them running at their peak efficiency.

AI-driven robots and systems can help monitor conveyor belts and other systems on the factory floor to meet these maintenance needs. Some next-gen systems even shut down when maintenance is needed to prevent a catastrophic failure or unnecessary damage.

 

4. Painting and Sealing

Many robots are used to paint or seal goods before final packaging and distribution. Because these roles often expose workers to myriad chemicals — some of which are extremely hazardous to humans — robots are a better fit for jobs that require prolonged exposure to industrial paints or sealants.

Robots are also cleaner and more efficient when applying various coatings. Because they're equipped with flowmeters, these machines don't have to worry about inconsistencies or making an unnecessary mess. Paint robots are already common in the automotive and aerospace industries, but they're increasingly seen in other areas too.

 

5. Warehouse Optimization

Some robots are taken off the factory floor and placed within a warehouse or storeroom. Machines work for more than just assembly and inspection — they're useful when it comes to picking orders, stocking shelves and recording inventory levels too.

Not only can robots perform these jobs faster and more efficiently than their human counterparts, but they're a much safer alternative than the average laborer.

Heavy parts and objects can easily injure a human who is moving them across the factory floor or attempting to stock them into a shelving unit. Managers and supervisors are easily burnt out when putting in overtime to count inventory levels. Issues like this — and many more — are easily solved with a next-gen robot.

 

Using Robots to Drive Manufacturing Growth

Although some traditionalists actively campaign against next-gen robots and smart factories, the technology’s integration into mainstream society is inevitable.

It's already underway in many industries, and more manufacturers are beginning to explore the benefits of workplace automation every day.

Human workers won't be phased out entirely — they just need to learn how to adapt and work with these next-gen systems to maximize their productivity.

 

Image by Samuel Zeller

 

Kayla Mathews - Contributing Author

Matthews is a tech journalist and writer, whose work has appeared on websites such as VentureBeat, The Week, VICE's Motherboard and Inc.com. She is also a senior writer at MakeUseOf and the owner of ProductivityBytes.com.

More about Kayla Mathews - Contributing Author
The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of ManufacturingTomorrow

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