For many industries, the future has already arrived with robotic innovations taking the lead.
Robotic applications including AutoRacking and bin picking can do the minimalist of jobs and save millions of dollars a day.
“These are robotics on the emerging or mature curve and the acceptance level in industry is growing,” says Adil Shafi, president, SHAFI Innovation Inc., a Michigan-based provider of simplified software solutions for vision guided robotics. “Companies are starting to understand how these applications cut costs and can really affect revenue.”
Shafi spoke during the Robotic Industries Assn.'s conference and expo, “Robots 2008, What's Next,” at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, MA.
The three-day conference, from June 10-12, was held in conjunction with The Machine Vision Show and addressed business competition in the global marketplace through automation and robotics.
According to Shafi, a Chrysler automotive assembly plant in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, which is just over the border from Detroit, produces $30 million a day utilizing the AutoRacking robotic application SHAFI Innovation makes.
AutoRacking is a robotic application primarily used in the auto industry. It is used at auto stamping and assembly plants, i.e., facilities that stamp a steel blank into the desired car door or hood.
Shafi spoke about two plants that are using the robotic process, one in Windsor and another in St. Louis, MO, which produces Chrysler's Town & Country minivans.
“They assemble 2,000 vans a day, at $20,000 a piece,” says Shafi. “The application can reduce their costs all around and save essentially $40 million a day in labor costs.”
While AutoRacking is being used, there is more widespread acceptance and use of bin picking robotic applications for unloading and loading parts at industrial plants.
“Bin picking is primarily used in automotive, medical, food, transportation and furniture industries,” he says.
Showing a series of video clips, Shafi explained the bin picking robotic applications use many camera techniques to help maneuver the picking processes to pinpoint the certain location of parts for picking and placement. The use of these camera techniques, for example, triangulation, allows for more geometric flexibility, he says.
Geometry and separation of parts and pattern matching are two functions heavily used in bin packing applications, he says.
“Bin picking is really about classes of geometries,” says Shafi.
Robotic applications have saved nearly $100,000 per bin, per year in labor at plants where he has established such applications.
Shafi gave examples of bags of food that tend to deform and are not straight geometric patterns, so the part that gets picked up is not always the same.
“These robots can save hundreds of thousands of dollars and improve the process,” says Shafi. “And companies are using them everyday.”