At IMTS 2022 – The International Manufacturing Technology Show, I was delighted to host a panel of experts – with a combined experience of more than 100 years in automation – to discuss trends in robots and cobots. We covered how robots are alleviating labor shortages, the proliferation of cobots, and concerns about the United States lagging behind other countries in adopting robots. Plus, one manufacturer shared his experience with recently adopting robots in his operations.  Here are a few highlights from our discussion, Be Prepared. Control Your Future with Robotics:  James Cooper, general manager of industry sales and execution at FANUC America, notes the growing use of robots in non-traditional applications and companies.  “The demand is not just with large companies, it's also with the small to mid-size manufacturers,” Cooper says. “We are trying to help those companies automate and do it in a simple and cost-effective manner.” Robby Komljenovic, chairman and CEO at Acieta, discusses how cobots are important for the survival of domestic manufacturing. “Feature-rich cobots are a big step into making the United States competitive with the rest of the world,” Komljenovic says. “There’s a harmony when a robot works alongside a human, and that’s going to continue to grow at a fast pace.” Milton Guerry, president at Schunk, recommends that manufacturers who previously considered robots too expensive should get up to speed on what the technology offers today. “Become educated on what robots can do. There's technology out there that lowers cost barriers and can help you justify investing in a robot,” Milton suggests. “If you looked at robots in the past and it wasn’t justified to automate, look again. It just could be that the answer to that question has changed.” Mike Bovee, director of product engineering at Knapheide, a manufacturer of work truck bodies, says he’s seeing a big shift in the acceptance of and interest in robotics at his facility, which has several robots installed and a few more scheduled for installation in the next year. “Robotic technology is really picking up steam in our company, and it's exciting because it gives people the chance to work at a higher level,” Bovee says. “They're going to come in and not just weld or do rudimentary tasks, but we can give them jobs that are more mentally stimulating.” I’d like to emphasize the end goal is to have robots doing the dirty, dull, and dangerous jobs that people don't like doing and making the jobs that humans are doing far more enjoyable. Today’s robots are easier to program and operate. You don’t need a Ph.D. With 3.5 million job openings in manufacturing, robots will be essential to bridging that gap. Watch the full panel discussion here. 
Robot experts and a manufacturer using robots discuss current trends in robotics and where the industry is headed.