Robot Trends to Look for in 2022
The past few years have accelerated the growth of industrial robots. While the implementation of robots has been on the rise for decades, the pandemic sped up many robotic trends due to labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, and inflation. As 2021 draws to a close, many companies are looking to get their productions back on track after a couple of years of instability, which is fueling the trends we are likely to see in 2022.
- 1. Smart Factories - Smart factories will be on the rise in 2022. A smart factory is one that is completely digitized. This can be accomplished through robotic automation. By deploying the lights-out manufacturing concept, smart factories are automated with industrial robots. Robots integrated with sensors and software can collect data and communicate that data across a central network called the Internet of Things (IoT). Productions are fully optimized for more efficient manufacturing.
- 2. Increased use of Cobots - The growth of collaborative robots is a trend that carried over from 2020 into 2021 and is expected to continue into 2022. Collaborative robots are user-friendly and incredibly safe making them ideal options for those new to robotic automation. Cobots can directly assist or work alongside humans without any barriers due to their enhanced safety features. The FANUC CR-15ia is one of FANUC’s top collaborative robots.
- 3. Higher Demand for Robotic Automation - Each year the demand for robotic automation has grown, but in 2022 it is expected to increase exponentially. Companies are turning to articulated robots to combat increasing production costs and inconsistent operations. In addition, the worldwide push to lower carbon footprints and implement environmentally friendly manufacturing is also driving up the demand for robots. It won’t just be new robots either that will be in demand, but also used ones. Used robots provide many of the same automation benefits while being much more affordable. The FANUC Arcmate 120ic and Motoman MA1440 are two high-quality six axis robots available through the second-hand market.
- 4. Rise of AI with Robots - The integration of artificial intelligence with industrial robots has been happening for a few years now and is expected to continue in 2022. AI is advancing the functionality of industrial robots allowing for more complex applications, lights-out manufacturing, and the expansion of robots in new industries. AI is also improving robotic maintenance and programming.
- 5. Labor Shortages Reduced with Robots - Prior to COVID-19 some industries were experiencing labor shortages as many skilled workers retired. Since the pandemic more industries have been experiencing worker shortages, prompting companies to fill empty positions with robots where possible. This trend is expected to continue through 2022 as manufacturers look to return to consistent operations.
- 6. Rise of Intuitive Programming - To expand the use of industrial robots, robotic manufacturers are looking to make robots more user-friendly. One way in which they are doing so is by making programming more intuitive. This is one of the reasons cobots continue to trend as they use hand guidance programming. Many newer teach pendants provide setup wizards and tutorials for easier robot programming.