From the above article it seems that the manufacturing segment has a need for increased speed, lifting capacity, service life and robot to robot coordination (all of which improve productivity and profitability).
With wages in some low-cost regions like China now creeping upwards, I wonder if there will be a slight sales increase in robotics due to some manufacturers now investing in the replacement of human workers with robots.
Yet another task that can be performed more effectively by a robot. The one feature that probably can't be seen here is the speed. While attending Pack Expo last year, I was amazed by the speed of the robots, which often did tasks that had previously been reserved for humans.
I think not only will the cost of production in China going up cause a boost in robotics, but the quality of production from low cost countries it atrousious (sp?). If it comes from China it will be in the trash sooner than later. One thing I believe most manufacturers are starting to come to grips with is you have to manage the quality of anything coming from a low cost country. And in order to do that properly you often have to spend more money in the states than you saved by going over seas. It's too bad the accounting and upper management world can't see that.
Along with the speed comes that repeatability that can deliver quality if the machine is set up properly. that type of repeatability is something that humans just can't deliver. However, humans will always be able to adapt and that is something that computers can struggle with. Without sensors or some type of way for the computer to sense how the parts are positioned it will perform the task the same each and every time irregardless of how the part is positioned. For the American worker I think developements like these stress the importance of furthering ones education and being able to adapt to an environment where repairing, operating and programming robots is a more required job skill than assembling parts.
I saw ABB's robots in action at MD&M West and co-located shows recently, and Chuck is right, these things are very fast. But it's a bit of a stretch to call industrial robots dexterous, at least compared to the humanoid hands in our recent slideshow: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=260644
Well, it probably is a bit of a stretch, Ann, but industrial robots are doing more and more. Of course they will never rival humanoid robots for their ability to perform tasks like humans would. I do think the use of robots, especially in automation, is on the rise; I believe recent analyst reports have even pointed to this fact.
I think the use of the term "dexterous" for these robots is a relative one. It's been used by the manufacturers for some time, but that was before the new generation of robot hands we look at in that recent slideshow. And yes, the use of industrial robots is definitely increasing, as we wrote about recently: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=258342
Yes, as technology improves, all terms get a bit relative, don't they, Ann? And some day the level of dexterity in even humanoid robots will be greatly surpassed by the latest and greatest. The industry I'm sure will come up with an even newer term for them. :)
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