COVID-19 and Automation: How can the impact of coronavirus become a positive for automation?

No one on the factory floors

If the lack of workforce was a problem in the past, how are companies coping with it now? As the impact of the virus continues to grow, manufacturers are compelled to close doors and send employees home to avoid contamination. This raises the question: How and when will factories continue to run? At this critical stage, many manufacturers have realized the importance of intelligent automation. It is now a fact that automation has not been taken seriously as it should have.

In the past few years, as automation saw increased adoption, questions around safety and quality were the main drivers for robotic cell implementation on factory floors. It is sad to think that a situation like this had to happen for robots to earn the credibility it deserve. The truth of the matter is that robots should never be the main reason behind layoffs. Rather, robots create an opportunity to help people develop greater skills at work.

More and more, automation will position business owners to embrace new technologies, and accept technological change. Additionally, the hope is that workers will also understand that human decision-making skills won’t be compromised by robots.

Robots in the front line

Throughout this health crisis companies are required to let employees work from home, and the idea of being at the office is no longer a requirement for a job’s efficiency. However, this does not apply to the manufacturing segment. Regular “9 – 5” hours — or more on the factory floor where workers can work, 8 to 12 hour shifts — will optimistically perish. Simple pick & place, loading and unloading processes for long periods (in many cases with hazardous components) will be substituted for smart machines.

In a world of constant transformation, it no longer makes sense for workers to perform repetitive, dexterous tasks for long hours. Can we possibly imagine a smart factory controlled by machines doing the same manual processes? Workers, once on the plant floor, can take the lead by teaching and monitoring machines. Seemingly, the path we are on will be more than doable, and more efficient than ever.

Adapting to the new era – Don’t be afraid

With the boost of new technologies, the idea of interaction between humans and robots is an important leading topic for automation. Robot producers believe that creating an easy-to-program software will enlighten the interest of workers, building trust that robots can do the same tasks non-stop. It is realistic to think that automatizing the production line should be as simple as possible, with minimal integration and onboarding; this is one of many theories supported by robot producers. Perhaps, with the disruption of COVID-19, manufacturers will be willing to learn more about the true benefits behind automation while taking consistent steps towards it.

Leading with AI

The perfect picture of a smart factory will come with intelligent software platforms followed by a distributed interactive system, all successfully interconnected. But, is this too fantastic to believe? Companies like Blue Ocean Robotics, a Danish producer of the UVD Robot, are developing brilliant technology based on UV disinfection solutions for hospitals. The UVD Robot is now in the spotlight creating massive value in helping combat the horrid virus.

Certainly, the medical segment is slighter different compared with the manufacturing, however, the awareness impact on AI will positively collide with SMEs’ elusion on the importance of automation. Finally, the hit of Coronavirus will eventually force manufacturers to find different automation solutions. As for the virus propagations, the hope is that science will find an effective way to defeat it. For factory managers, keeping an open mind for intelligent automation will net positive business results long term.

Will robots be valued more now as much as they should have been in the past? Only time will tell.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *