Why Your Plant or Shop Should Consider Robotics

Robotics repair

More companies are turning to automated processes—which could mean opportunity for your service shop or plant.

Partially due to the disastrous economic, socially-distanced, cautious climate that is 2020—and partially due to the steady advancement of technology—robotics are permeating industry at a higher rate than ever. And since many of these processes involve servomotors, robotic arms that require maintenance and supervision, and collaboration with humans, service shops should not be seeing red. Not only is automation “not the enemy”, it’s a veritable opportunity. Let’s take a look at some of the developments across a breadth of industries in recent weeks alone.

FedEx, Yaskawa, Plus One Robotics team up at FedEx’s Memphis hub. Besides being an important partnership involving two familiar businesses—Yaskawa and FedEx—this recent look into the package distributor’s Memphis hub shows us another example of robots not disrupting jobs, but facilitating them. Workers at the FedEx operation say the implementation of four new robots (cobots, technically speaking, since they are collaborative) has helped them streamline other tasks, such as sorting, allowing them to both a) supervise the robots themselves and b) focus on their own tasks of higher importance.

Plus One Robotics, Yaskawa America Announce Partnership With FedEx

Universal Robots adds Phillips branch to collaborative effort in India. Universal Robots, the Danish manufacturer of smaller flexible industrial collaborative robot arms, is extending its American partnership with Phillips Corporation to India, joining hands with the largest global distributor of the popular Haas CNC machines for Indian manufacturers to boost productivity. “Together, they are all set to offer machine shops a safe, user-friendly solution to optimize uptime and enable significant advantages to manufacturers in India,” a July 6 press release read. This is an extension of the existing partnership between the two companies in the US, which was first announced in August 2019. “Cobots” (short for collaborative robots) are niche robotic arms that are quick to deploy, have a low footprint, and easy to program, even for those who are first-time robot users. This portion of the industry makes for a low-risk, high-reward entry point for shops looking to get into the robot game.

Emerson and MHPS: Digital transformation. Emerson and Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Americas (MHPS) are joining forces again to develop digital technologies, software and services to help utility customers in North America. The companies will collaborate on digital solutions including “predictive and AI-driven maintenance strategies” and will also “automate operational decision-making.” The collaboration will aims to utilize both companies’ experience in power plants operating with MHPS gas or steam turbines. Emerson’s “Ovation” brand automation portfolio for power generation is used in thousands of plants across the globe, according to an August 3 press release. The system employs what is called “an embedded digital twin” that enables power plants to identify and implement new operating efficiencies, improve safety, decrease unscheduled maintenance and train workers. The training angle, specifically, presents another opportunity for EA readers to pepper in some automation to their operations. If you are a plant manager, here’s a chance to potentially streamline your day-to-day PM, while also giving employees training in a valuable new trade.

ABB opens new robotics factory in India, as well. The new ABB Robotics solutions delivery facility “will enable Indian customers to reap the benefits of Industry 4.0 including cutting-edge robotics and digitalization technologies,” aimed at helping India become more of a a high-tech manufacturing economy in the world, the company said in a July 31 press release. Spread over 3,600 square miles at its Nelamangala factory premises in Bengaluru, ABB hopes the new facility will enable its India branch to deliver robotic applications and digital solutions for a variety of Indian industries, including automotive, food & beverage, electronics and other upcoming sectors. The facility houses a “state-of-the-art” shop floor that can run proof of concepts and factory acceptance tests for 1000 ABB robots every year, which doubles the company’s capacity.

Robotics-as-a-Service Market Poised for Growth

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