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Industry 4.0 – Where Exactly Does Robotics Fit into it?

Industry 4.0 is the fourth industrial revolution that will take the manufacturing industry by storm. It is a form of radical and disruptive innovation that will see an enormous opportunity for the manufacturing industry.

Many organisations will optimise their efficiency by redesigning their business models to implement this new revolution and reap the benefits and opportunities it brings. Industry 4.0 is made up of many segments, including A.I. (artificial intelligence), machine learning, the internet of things and the introduction of robots and humans working alongside one another – COBOTS (Collaborative Robots).

The use of robotics is seeing fewer low skilled workers having to carry out highly repetitive mundane tasks and instead being promoted to higher positions requiring less physical effort that are more rewarding and reap higher profits. Employees can now work alongside robots, these are now known as cobots as they are extremely sensitive incorporating force-torque sensors which allow them to automatically stop and enter safe stop mode when a person intrudes within set parameters.

The ability to work next to people means it is now easier for companies to adopt flexible automation as part of their manufacturing process and increase output. There are many uses for their profound cobots, from simple pick and place, CNC tending, packaging, assembly, polishing, screwing through to machine loading, welding and gluing.

There are many advantages of this, including; productivity being increased as employees are freed up work on other areas, employees are enabled to work on tasks of higher value, allowing them to feel more empowered and efficiency is improved through the increase in throughput, not to mention the reduction in the likelihood of RSI (repetitive strain injury) and lifting injuries.

At present the use of robots and humans working together is domineered by the automotive sector however, as new technologies advance and further A.I. and machine learning develops, alongside the use of robotics, where the robots ‘learn’, there is a strong possibility that the use of cobots will further develop into the retail, food, inspection and laboratory sectors.

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