As unique as the year has been, the wheels of innovation in industrial robotics have been spinning unperturbed as new technologies that had been in the pipeline for some time came to market. Businesses around the world are still looking for new ways to produce with high efficiency and it’s up to suppliers to meet the demand pandemic or no pandemic.
Indeed, there are several trends in industrial robotics trends that may have started a bit earlier but joined the mainstream in 2020. Here are some of them:
1. Connected Robotics- The Internet of Things (IoT Robotics)
This was the year that we were supposed to start feeling the effects of having 5G connection in the real world after it had been talked about and touted for the better part of the last decade. That machines would start communicating with other machines, systems and lead to a whole new way of doing things.
While some of the mainstream benefits of 5G have not taken shape, it’s safe to say that industrial robotics has fully embraced the IoT way of operation in 2020. This is the year that we saw the introduction of smart robots that were part of a larger network of systems and machines. All this to provide valuable insights for machine learning, CNC applications, and Big data in industrial robotics.
Using a series of actuators, sensors, vision systems, and new robotics software, we are starting to see the possibilities that lie in deploying connected robotics in various industries. Soon we shall see traditional industrial robots becoming smarter, more efficient, and flexible in the way they accomplish tasks on factory floors.
2. Intelligent Robots- Convergence of ML and Industrial Robots
For the longest time, most industrial robotics applications involved traditionally pre-programmed machines that were dedicated to one or two tasks. However, as new AI and ML applications come to fore, it’s almost a given that industrial robotics will have to take advantage of these, now matured, technologies going forward.
This is the year that we saw the real-life application of years of work in industrial AI and ML to create autonomous, intelligent, and dynamic industrial robots on a large scale. Intelligent industrial robots can be taught to make decisions on their own, move around unaided, and perform a wider range of functions without the need for reprogramming. At the same time, industrial robots are set to benefit from this continuous learning to become more effective and efficient thus impacting production costs wherever they are deployed.
3. The Emergence of Collaborative Robotics
A few years ago, it would have been impossible to imagine that robots made to be used in large scale production and commercial applications would be deployed alongside humans. Collaborative robots have bucked the trend and are now touted as the future of industrial robots.
A collaborative robot differs from a traditional robot in many areas but the biggest one is that it is designed to work side by side with humans. This is in stark contrast with traditional industrial robot applications where safety fencing was required to deploy an industrial robot.
We have seen collaborative robots being adopted across many industries in 2020 with the logistics and food sector leading. What’s more, there is finally a shift towards the manufacture of cheap and highly flexible industrial robots that are targeted towards the SME sector.
4. The Shift from Traditional Markets for Industrial Robotics
This trend has been around for quite a while now but 2020 showed us what the future might hold as far as the market for industrial robotics is concerned. While traditional markets like the automotive industry remain, there is an emerging market for these robots in other sectors as robots become smaller, more available, and cheaper to acquire.
There is a lot to be excited about in the industrial robotics sectors as we head towards 2021 despite the challenges that might be there. From the emergence of intelligent industrial robots to IoT adoption and collaborative robots. There is no bout that better days are ahead of us and innovation will continue to drive the sector.