Robots Uncaged

April 2015 E-Newsletter

I was recently surfing the Web and came across a report on NBC News that discussed a new generation of industrial robots on display at a German trade show in Hannover. The story is about new developments in robotic technology, called collaborative robots.

Once, to safely apply a robot on the shop floor, fencing, proximity mats and other barriers had to be in place to separate workers from the robot. As was demonstrated at the trade fair, this is rapidly changing in favor of “collaboration.” Today and into the future, shops have the option of using robots that can exist side-by-side with workers while presenting no danger of human to robot interference—a much more ergonomic arrangement.

The advance in technology is sensor based, which robots employ to sense, and in some cases, see, potential interference points and avoid them. In the NBC report, the International Federation of Robotics estimates that 225,000 industrial robots were sold in 2014, up 27 percent from 2013.

Automation is driving shops to look at more efficient ways to use human capital, and robots are among the solutions available. Collaborative robotics may indeed accelerate this process.

In PM’s March issue, we published a cover feature on collaborative robotics, citing a couple of shops that have installed them. Click here to read the article.