The Robotic Age of Manufacturing
Robots are everywhere in today's manufacturing world. New technologies that enable human-robot collaboration, nimble grasping of objects, 3D sensing, and unconstrained mobility are enabling robots to be used for new applications in a wider market. Fred Proctor, group leader at NIST, and Tom Kurfess, professor at Georgia Tech, discuss the state of robot manufacturing in this IMTSTV interview at the 2015 [MC]2 Conference.
“2013 was the biggest sales year for robots, ever,” says Proctor. But with robot usage at an all-time high, there is a particular set of challenges emerging. The main challenge is the difficulty in true robot integration and collaboration with preexisting systems. Technology standards can help get this new technology into the hands of people who wouldn’t normally have access to it, allowing for widespread innovation to solve these new challenges.
Now that small- and medium-sized manufacturers are able to get their hands on robotic technology more easily, they are discovering their own set of unique problems. “A lot of it is just understanding what the new technology is, how to use it and how to use it most effectively,” Kurfess explains. Kurfess says that many small and medium manufacturers are not using this new 21st century technology to its full potential, which could be because they aren’t aware of their technology’s capabilities.
Another challenge with robot integration in small- and medium-sized manufacturers is optimized usage. Proctor explains, “The problem with robots has always been that they do a great job at applications where you can spend a lot of time upfront, programming them, tweaking them and getting them just right, then playing back that application over and over again for large volumes.” This process isn’t optimized for small manufacturers who are focused on fast production. Proctor believes that making robots easier to program will allow for even small- and medium-sized manufacturers to use this technology to its full potential.
To learn more about the future of robotics, watch the full IMTSTV interview!