Industrial robots are taking over. They’ve become much more common in the workplace. According to a report by the International Federation of Robotics, the number of robots in factories has almost doubled in recent years.
The 2021 World Robot Report shows that the global number of robots per 10,000 employees has risen from 66 to 126 between 2015–2020. So which sectors are reaping the rewards?
Here are some of the industries that are adding robots:
Manufacturing and Warehousing
The nature of manufacturing has changed significantly in recent years, largely due to COVID-19. North American companies purchased 11,595 robots in the first quarter of 2022. This record high amounted to a staggering $646 million.
Robotics has many benefits for the sector, from improving precision to reducing packing times. Kroger, the largest supermarket chain in North America, uses robots in its $55 million warehouse. The robots help to pack an assortment of groceries, such as cereals and vegetables, efficiently.
While some robotic solutions are fixed, such as a robotic arm on a production line, many others are untethered small vehicles for the transportation of goods and components. These include AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles) and AMRs (Autonomous Mobile Robots). They come in a variety of forms, including pallet shuttles, mobile platforms, carts, and forklifts. In large, busy logistics operations, robots can reduce labor costs, run 24/7, and increase picking accuracy to 100%. There’s no human error because they’re computer controlled.
Healthcare and Medical
Innovations in robotics have many uses within healthcare, ultimately improving the service that patients receive. Supplementary robots can transport goods, such as life-changing medication, around the hospital when nurses are understaffed or preoccupied. These robots can also disinfect hospital rooms and other areas using UV-C lighting.
Scientists are also working towards creating microbots – robots that are forecast to be as small as a single human cell. These may be able to travel through patients’ bodies and help repair the human body. They may also replace the need for some prescription medications. So microbots could revolutionize the delivery of healthcare around the world.
The battery manufacturing sector also benefits from the use of robotics. Companies that manufacture cells that are used inside battery packs incorporate robotics into their business operations. This is used during manufacturing and in-process transportation of products and materials.
Thoughtfully designed, robust, and long-lasting lithium-ion battery packs give these applications enough energy to run for an extended time. The same technology means that the robots can be recharged very quickly and re-deployed with minimal downtime. Logistics robots wouldn’t be possible without batteries because warehouses need to be zero-emissions environments. Similarly, agricultural robotics may be deployed in the field, supported by solar panel installations, meaning no grid connection is needed to make the transition.
Agricultural robots allow farms and farmers to lower their overheads for repeatable activities, such as seeding, weeding, picking and feeding. It also monitors the growth and development of crops using AI combined with cameras, determining exactly when a crop is ready to be harvested or even harvesting individual plants at the optimum moment.
Schools and Education
Robotics is also highly beneficial within the education system. Teachers and learning professionals can use robotics to help students within the classroom, all the way from primary school to higher education. There is currently a robot that is designed to communicate with children and ask logical questions.
Not only is this beneficial for students, but these robots will help teachers amid growing class sizes. The future is bright for robotics within education. According to Anthony Sheldon, a British educational expert, robots will replace teachers as the main educational leaders. Teachers could become assistants in the future.
There seems no limit to the usefulness of robotics. Scientists will continue to innovate and create new pieces of technology that surpass our wildest dreams, proving essential to advancing the sector you work in. If these are the machines of today, we can only imagine what tomorrow has in store for us.