Fourth Industrial Revolution with Robots
Manufacturing is quite different than what it used to be several decades ago. Instead of factories filled with busy workers, we are seeing more automation with production floors consisting of various machines mixed in amongst fewer workers. Industrial robots in particular have become quite common in today’s manufacturing world. Their use has grown so much that many are calling it the fourth industrial revolution.
There are many factors that are driving the takeover of robotic automation in manufacturing causing this fourth industrial revolution. For the past few years there has been a declining workforce for manual labor, especially for skilled positions such as welders. Implementing robotic automation is closing the labor and skills gap, preventing unnecessary delays and downtime due to labor shortages. Adapting the FANUC Arcmate 120ic for welding automation gives manufacturers the skillset of an experienced welder immediately. The Arcmate 120ic is able to start operating right away and will be a long-term welding solution with no risk of turnover.
Combating increased production costs is another factor contributing to this industrial revolution with robots. Each year worker salaries, material costs, and utilities increase. Articulated robots are able to counter these increases since they do not have salaries, reduce material waste, and save on utilities with their energy efficiency while being able to operate in non-climate-controlled environments in dim lighting. In the long run, industrial robots are less expensive to operate than using manual labor and will increase productivity.
As the cost of robots has fallen along with advancements in robotic technology are making robotic automation more accessible to more companies. Robot costs are much more affordable today and there is also the option to buy a used robot. The Yaskawa Motoman MA1440 and the FANUC R-2000ic/165F are just two of the many popular robots available through the second-hand market. Six axis robots are also much more advanced allowing them to automate a wide variety of manufacturing processes. With improved and more flexible technology they are no longer only reserved for automating large, high volume productions. The can also be deployed for small or medium sized operations with lower volumes, expanding the scope of manufacturers that are good candidates for robotic automation.
More advanced robots mean they can automate a greater variety of applications. The first industrial robots could only automate simple pick and place processes, but today robots can takeover most manufacturing applications. Robots are commonly used for automated arc welding, material handling, assembly, palletizing, and material removal. In recent years, robots have moved into less industrial settings with some of the latest applications including 3D printing and packaging pharmaceuticals.
As the use and capabilities of robots grow, some manufacturers are moving towards lights-out manufacturing with fully automated factories. Fully automated factories run entirely on automated equipment with robots being the main component. Technology options such as robotic vision systems and force sensors allow robots to be autonomous and significantly reduce the need for any human involvement. With the future outlook of industrial robots expected to accelerate through the remainder of the current decade, factories run entirely on robots may soon be the new standard in manufacturing.