Robotization and automation of work are natural processes occurring in a large number of companies. However, contrary to appearances, natural processes do not mean the complete automation of positions and, as a result, the absence of the need to hire new employees. The goal is to support employees in their activities and increase their abilities and potential. Robots are expected to appear in all sorts of industries. However, these will not be typical mechanical systems, but intelligent devices that will help you achieve your goals faster. Man-machine cooperation can not only increase the efficiency, but also improve the future quality.
In relation to the process of robotization and automation, the term “Industry 4.0” is often used, meaning the fourth industrial revolution. This is directly related to the use of industrial robots in manufacturing processes and the integration of human and machine work. Such a concept concerns data processing and the introduction of new technologies. Industry 4.0 is also associated with the digitization of production, which consists in connecting devices and systems, including via the Internet. In this way, it will be possible to quickly analyze production data, the amount of which is huge. Big changes will also occur in the processes related to production management.
The industrial revolution will lead to a shift away from linear processes and traditional management methods in favor of non-linear processes and an extensive network of connections. We also highlight the changes that have appeared due to this concept:
- Autonomous operation of systems with a change in structure and functions;
- Production will become flexible, personalized and therefore burdened with lower costs;
- Application of new technologies: cloud computing, incremental printing, extensive big data analysis, artificial intelligence and collaborative robots.
The Rise Of Smart Factories
Smart factories are directly related to the term Industry 4.0. Smart factories must use robotic systems, completely new production methods and the Internet of Things. The latter term is often referred to as the “Internet of the Future” and is associated with the data produced by all kinds of intelligent objects that surround a person every day. They should be used in such a way as to maximize the improvement of a person’s life. The value of the IoT market is constantly growing, which is directly related to the increase in spending on smart technologies, especially in the household sector. The possibilities offered by this technology are now used in traffic control systems in cities, which reduce congestion, or in water management.
We also highlight the remaining possibilities of this technology:
- product personalization;
- Minimizing the participation of employees in production processes;
- Abandoning traditional assembly lines and production lines in favor of autonomous transport carts;
- The use of RFID tags, that is, special chips that store and send data using radio waves. Thanks to their placement on products, it will be possible to automatically select tools for machines;
- Using the Internet of Things to monitor production processes and control energy consumption, which will allow you to better optimize production and increase efficiency.
At present, the concept of “smart factory” is not fully understood. However, a growing number of manufacturing companies claim to use certain elements and technologies related to this aspect of Industry 4.0.
Benefits of robotics and automation in industry
The use of industrial robots in an enterprise provides many benefits for both the company and employees. One of the main advantages is the chance to replace employees where human health and life is at risk. In this case, we can mention, for example, industrial welding shops, where robots have been successfully used for many years. As a result, companies rely not only on the high quality of the manufactured elements, but also on high efficiency. This leads to optimization and unification of processes and cost reduction. Employees are not exposed to harmful processes. In this context, tasks that are not only dangerous, but also tedious and difficult, are carried out by robots, and employees can in turn focus on managing production.
Benefits of Robotics and Automation Compared to Other Industries
Increasing production and productivity
This is one of the most frequently cited benefits for businesses. This is due to the possibility of increasing production capacity. One of the characteristics of robotization is the absence of downtime and acceleration of processes, which directly affects the increase in production. Robotization also allows better use of company-owned assets, resulting in increased productivity.
Reduced Production Costs
The benefit of reducing production costs is directly related to increased productivity. Thanks to the automation of processes, the unit cost of manufacturing elements is reduced due to the lower consumption of raw materials and the acceleration of processes. What’s more, robotization helps track production processes and quickly identify waste and costs.
Increasing sales of products and increasing the competitiveness of the company
One of the most important factors influencing the decision to purchase a particular product is its quality and price. Thanks to robotization, companies can not only improve the quality of their own products, but also offer an attractive price by reducing production costs. Moreover, smart factories are able to produce personalized products that meet the preferences of customers. This increases the competitiveness of the company, having a chance to create a unique offer in the market. Companies that have implemented processes related to automation and robotization can respond faster to changes in the market, adjusting to their own requirements.
Control the product life cycle and better meet customer needs
Thanks to the use of the already mentioned RFID tags, the company has the chance to track the life cycle of the product it produces at various stages – both production and transportation, maintenance and processing. Even at the stage of using the product by the customer Moreover, he will provide data on the parameters and technical condition. By being able to learn about how products are used, they can be improved and even better adapted to the needs of future users.
Industry 4.0 involves the use of new and constantly evolving technologies to help bring about changes in enterprises, both those related to production methods, as well as production management and information.
Artificial Intelligence In Industry
Automation and robotization are two processes that are inevitable in the industry on a large scale. However, this does not mean that machines should displace people, making invincible competition. Experts argue that increasing the share of robots in manufacturing processes will require more support from employees. Intelligent machines must be equipped with special sensors, thanks to which they will be able to collect all kinds of information about the work being done. In this way, it will be possible to predict the occurrence of failures and optimize the production process. Thanks to the use of modern technologies, robots will be able to learn and solve complex problems, as well as make informed decisions.
Collaborative robots, featuring advanced control systems, are becoming more popular today. They can not only perform tasks quickly, but also program the equipment themselves. They are supposed to interact with humans by performing time-consuming and problematic tasks. The main advantage is and will be the ease of implementation in processes and the absence of the need for employees to have special knowledge in the field of machine programming.
Computing clouds help to store, process and calculate data remotely. This allows for easy system scaling and lower operating costs. Businesses no longer have to bear the costs associated with the purchase of hardware and software, as well as setup. Cloud computing makes vast amounts of resources available on demand in a short amount of time. Businesses can count on delivering the computing power, bandwidth, and storage they need right now.
The already mentioned huge amounts of data obtained from smart devices will be used in industry to optimize processes, identify errors and obtain information. To do this, companies use advanced analytics and artificial intelligence algorithms. Valuable data will become one of the criteria influencing the competitive advantage of enterprises, ensuring their continuous growth.
The impact of robotization and automation on employee employment
One of the controversial aspects of robotization and automation is the impact of both processes on the labor market. This question is not unambiguous and requires analysis in all possible aspects. On the one hand, due to the increase in labor productivity, companies have a smaller workforce. On the other hand, there is a need to hire people who will operate the machines. Economic growth as a result of the introduction of robotization further increases the demand for employees. With this approach, it is difficult to say whether automation processes have a positive or negative impact on the labor market. There are also significant qualitative changes.Robotization forces people working in new areas to perform activities related to the operation of machines. Therefore, employees are forced to improve their skills. Lack of labor force is the primary obstacle to doing business.
The future of the industry
Given the demand for industrial robots on a global scale, it is easy to assume that the use of technologies related to Industry 4.0 will be the primary competitive factor in the near future. In addition, competitiveness is reduced due to the use of cheap labor. For the development of robotization and automation processes in industry, it is important to spread knowledge about the benefits that are received and debunk stereotypes. It is worth noting that industrial robots are the only salvation for thousands of companies struggling with a shortage of employees. The experience of enterprises that have implemented this type of process shows that this is the right direction that affects the competitiveness of the market. Robotization and automation are also changing the way manufacturing is managed, which is closely linked to the use of big data. Transformation is inevitable and is happening before our eyes. Enterprises that are aware of the future have a chance to gain an advantage and become a leader in their own field.