The widely-publicised economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit has effected a focus on automation and AI across sectors, in particular logistics/supply chain and industrial manufacturing. Looking ahead, what are some trends we are likely to see?
Already used to great effect on assembly lines and manufacturing – robotic maintenance assistance can minimise using valuable man hours on typically repetitive tasks.
The use of AI can move human maintenance planning activity to an autonomous schedule, identifying potential problems through regular data analysis, recognizing patterns and making predictions allows for a repair before the problem exists.
Robots as a Service
Robots are expensive. Investing in robotic assistance typically requires a huge capital investment, and even though some companies are looking to reduce reliance on humans, the new equipment can require expert programming, monitoring and maintenance manpower.
Enter Robots as a Service, or RaaS. You’re probably already familiar with SaaS (software as a service) and many of the other service-based offerings that are common, particularly in IT. The flexibility that a service brings lends itself well to robotics. Rapid scaling in response to customer needs, and assistance with use case and maintenance from your service provider makes implementing robotic assistance less of an undertaking.
3D printing has been around for some time now, to the point where home models are affordable. Industrial 3D printers are robots which can offer prototyping, customisation and solutions without the typical multi-year R&D cycle. New business models are emerging here as well, such as PaaS – printing as a service.
With pandemic worker shortages, collaborative robots for manual tasks are an attractive prospect in some sectors. These robot workers don’t get sick or injured, increasing efficiency for low skill work.