COVID-19 is Accelerating Robotic Automation
Prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, manufacturing was already trending towards robotic automation. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the trend of manufacturing with industrial robots has accelerated. The repercussions of the pandemic have made companies realize they need a manufacturing system that is sustainable, flexible, and efficient which is why many are now implementing robotic systems.
The most obvious reason for the current acceleration towards robotic automation is to combat public health restrictions. From lockdowns to social distancing, many of the public health initiatives to fight the virus have caused major disruptions for manufacturers. Implementing articulated robots is helping manufacturers survive COVID-19. Replacing workers with robots limits human interactions, allowing companies to comply with social distancing guidelines. While robots are also able to operate around the clock and are mostly autonomous. Automating assembly lines with a FANUC Lr Mate 200id allows productions to keep running regardless of COVID restrictions.
There is also the economic impact of COVID-19 that is driving automation with industrial robots. Many countries are now facing a recession as a result of the Coronavirus. Studies have shown that robotic automation increases during times of a recession. This is because labor costs become more expensive when company revenues decline. During recessions there tends to be less consumer demand further driving up labor costs as fewer products are produced. This leads manufacturers to look for alternatives to manual labor in order to reduce costs. In most cases, they are able to take over production related tasks and with no salary or benefits making robots more cost-effective than manual labor. Six axis robots are one of the few investments that pay for themselves in the long run with their increased productivity and product quality. Purchasing a used robot such as the Motoman MA1400, will lower your cost to automate and allow for a quicker ROI.
The acceleration of robotic automation does not mean there will be permanent job loss for workers. Robots actually help create more jobs, especially ones that are better paying and more desirable. As more companies automate, the demand for robot programmers and operators will increase. Former floor workers can be trained for these positions, helping workers obtain or retain employment. As robots are able to produce more goods for less money, companies can grow their revenues and eventually add to their workforce. Companies may also opt for automating with cobots which are robots that are designed to operate collaboratively with humans. Implementing a Universal UR10 doesn’t replace a worker, but instead assists with repetitive tasks for enhanced productivity.
Automating with industrial robots provides a long-lasting manufacturing solution. With robotic automation companies will not have to worry about their operations being impact by unforeseen events. Many manufacturers with automated factories have been able to keep operating through the course of the pandemic. Robots operate for long hours and when well-maintained can run for several years. In addition, they are incredibly versatile with many being multipurpose robots that are capable of performing several applications. The FANUC M10ia can be used in both welding automation and automated material handling. Having a flexible automation system allows manufacturers to adapt to changing consumer demands or product line changes, which is valuable in a time of uncertainty.