Al, thanks for a great article. I didn't realize robots were being used in the wood industry, but they're being deployed in so many more areas all the time it shouldn't be a surprise. It makes a lot of sense in this one, considering all the hazards to humans.
Save lives and cost jobs. I know this is cliche to say. I know that millions of elevator operators were out of a job once automatic lifts came into play, and they moved on. But this sort of development moved money from people to the robotics manufacturers. In many cases, the works are not trained to maintain the device, just let go. Either evolve or get out of the way is the sentiment.
That said, saving our lives is the point of first world living. However, I would like to see tech of this sort reach places where safety is of no concern. Places where breathing masks as just shirts tied around people's faces. Saving lives in a highly regulated industrial country is like adding a pillow top to a soft mattress. Since there is no money in protecting 2nd and 3rd world workers, we will not see this type of innovation in those countries.
JamesCAnder, you must have a back that's in really good shape. I've been buying mattresses with pillow-tops for a couple decades, because my back isn't and needs all the help it can get. Seriously, though, just because people in industrialized countries have overall better protection than those in third-world countries doesn't mean they don't need more. But I think you're right that those protections should be extended to everyone.
It seems that robotics is definitely branching into a much wider variety of applications. This one is natural because safety is such a concern but robots are also increasing productivity in many applications with the ability to achieve much more precise motion and more complicated motions than in the past.
Agree.I recently visited a Japanese welding manufacturer Nagoya- Wel where they are beginning to integrate robotics with their automotive welding systems. Robotics do play a key role in manfacturing safety and the applications are becoming more diverse in solving assembly processes in industrial factories.
New versions of BASF's Ecovio line are both compostable and designed for either injection molding or thermoforming. These combinations are becoming more common for the single-use bioplastics used in food service and food packaging applications, but are still not widely available.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.