Technology and innovation have a tendency to gain tremendous momentum, bringing about innovative changes that cause significant disruption for industries. Those businesses that choose to fight or simply can’t keep up with change share the same dismal fate of falling out of competition. Those businesses that embrace disruption stand a better chance of riding the wave perceived chaos, better equipped to secure position in the state of industry that follows. So far there have been four major upheavals in industry, the most recent of which being coined Industry 4.0.
Over the last half-century, robots have been relied upon as an integral part of manufacturing. Their presence offers incredible benefits, including enhanced production speed, accuracy, and tireless labor. However, they can’t do it all. As a result, robots have been increasingly prevalent in the manufacturing environment year after year. Engineered to work collaboratively alongside their human counterparts, these smaller and agiler implements on the manufacturing floor are referred to as collaborative robots.
In the wake of what is likely the first occurrence of its kind, Uber Technologies Inc. has decided to halt its field testing of autonomous vehicles in cities like, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Toronto, and Phoenix after one of its autonomous vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. It has been reported that the pedestrian stepped in front of the autonomous vehicle suddenly, which will likely take focus as authorities continue investigating the incident that occurred Sunday night.
What is known at this point is that the woman had crossed the street outside of a crosswalk when she was struck. The autonomous vehicle did have a human safety driver supervising inside the cabin of the vehicle, who said the incident occurred “like a flash”. The supervisor also reported their first indication of the collision was the sounds of the collision itself. Some experts following the industry closely expressed significant alarm when it was revealed no braking or swerving maneuvers were enacted to avoid the collision. The incident took place around 10 pm local time, at which point the pedestrian was taken by ambulance to a local hospital. She later succumbed to her injuries. According to local authorities, Uber is cooperating fully with the Tempe Police Department during the investigation.
With the industrial robot population on course to reach 1.7 million by 2020, enterprises the world over are reevaluating how they approach managing a mechanized workforce. To address modern manufacturing operations’ increasing reliance on automation and robotics, the C-suite is preparing to welcome a new designation among its ranks: Chief Robotics Officer.
Addressing An Increasingly Automated Workforce
While the concept may be a new one, a study conducted by Myria Research, a Massachusetts-based research and advisory services business, puts projections of the emerging CRO position in 60% for Fortune 500 executive teams. Beyond that, the Chief Robotics Officer Research Scenario predicts the Robotics & Intelligent Operational Systems (RIOS) technologies market to reach $1.2 trillion globally by 2025. The figure is tremendous when compared to the firm’s $63 billion market valuation in 2015. However, companies cannot afford to discount the increasing prevalence of RIOS in their own daily operations as well as those of their competitors. The projections include full hardware, software, and services segmentation in the figure, which represents a 30% CAGR to 2020 and 40% from 2020 until 2025.
The common misconception about automation is that in the long term it will cost more jobs than it creates. The fact of the matter is that this is simply not true. Automation, working alongside effective ERP solutions, provides workforces the freedom to become more specialized and efficient. Automation works in tandem with ERP to conserve resources and take the mundane and repetitive tasks out of the picture.
As a result, the human component of businesses can take on more logical, critical thinking-oriented tasks. This adds value to the business by strengthening the quality of care customers receive and nurtures the satisfaction employees receive when they occupy more critical and appreciated roles in their careers.
New tariffs on foreign materials are likely going to affect industries that employ millions of Americans. Beverage and robotics manufacturing are just two of the affected industries, but these two will be among the segment most heavily affected by the new tariffs on imported building materials. The tariffs recommended by the U.S. Commerce Department apply to aluminum and steel imported to the US from abroad. The tariffs reach as high as 53%, which could pose a big problem for industries relying on these essential metals for manufacturing purposes.
Easily one of the most mundane and repetitive of tasks, picking and sorting of objects is activity few humans look forward to with great elation. However, the tedious nature of the task is a prime candidate for automation using robotics. Beyond the obvious hardware that it takes for a robot to operate within the confines of a designated task, a less obvious one, machine vision, acts as a critical component of efficient robotic sorting. The technologies involved with machine vision, sensing, and object interaction are already being used by robots with great success on the International Space Station in completing even complex tasks, semi-autonomously.
The latest component of Industry 4.0, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), maybe be an unfamiliar concept now, but soon these three words will be on the lips of operators big and small all over the world. RPA is already generating substantial revenue savings for businesses, with $50 million recovered in 2017, with a projected compound annual growth rate of more than 60% through 2026. Coupling this emerging technology with a business-centric solution like ERP systems will ensure your workforce is free to engage in the more demanding aspects of your operations, all while automation handles the rest.
With the successful launch and reentry of Tesla’s Falcon Heavy rocket, now is an excellent opportunity to talk about robots, machine vision, and their roles in expanding space research and exploration.
Space robots. Emulated after us in terms of morphology and size, they are superior to industrial robots when it comes to versatility and capability. While right now they may not look as advanced or operate as nimbly as their representations in sci-fi features from the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises, that gap is quickly shrinking. Taking on repairs and other tasks deemed too dangerous for astronauts, these specialized robots are the obvious candidates for many of the precarious activities taking place beyond the relative comfort of Earth.
Automation has experienced a substantial boom over the past several years and things are only gaining momentum. We couldn’t possibly cover all the latest updates and emerging trends, so here are the 10 we believe to be the most exciting emerging trends in automation for 2018.
1. Industrial Internet Of Things (IIoT) Technology Bringing Down Overhead
Lower cost and higher value products with the capability of connecting to existing infrastructure and relaying relevant performance data in real-time will continue to cut automation costs for operations, at scale. Higher-performance processors, detailed sensor equipment, more robust analytics software, ultra-precise vision systems, and cloud computing are only a few examples of IIoT tech that are shaking up automation in Industry 4.0.