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Robots are supposed to make businesses increase efficiency, reduce costs, and stay competitive in today’s global market, but it turns out they can also make the workplace a whole lot smellier. Just ask the 24 human workers at an Amazon Fulfillment Center who were rushed to the hospital after a robot accidentally punctured a can of bear repellent. The incident sent a strong scent of pepper spray throughout the warehouse and made it clear that robotics implementation is far from being a standardized solution. But this was in 2018. A quick look at the calendar says the year is 2023—five years after that incident. A lot has definitely changed since then, and robotics advancements have clearly not slowed down. This makes you wonder if robotics implementation is now at the pinnacle of being a standardized solution. Well, the answer to that is NO. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the current state of robotics implementation and why robotics implementation is far from being a standardized solution.

Robotics Implementation Takes Time

When it comes to robotics implementation, there’s a lot more to it than just shopping online for a solution. The first step in the process is to research and identify the specific needs of your factory or workplace. This will include considerations such as the size of your factory, the specific applications you need robots to perform, and the current state of your existing operations. Each factory or workplace is unique, and as such, a tailored solution must be developed for each individual case.

The Proof of Concept Process

Once the specific needs of your factory or workplace have been identified, the next step is to develop a Proof of Concept (PoC). This is a detailed technical analysis of how the proposed robotics solution will work within your specific factory or workplace. The PoC process is critical to ensure that the solution is feasible and that it will be effective in achieving the goals that have been set.

Safety: A Major Requirement in Robotics Implementation

Safety is also a crucial aspect of robotics implementation, as the use of robots in the workplace can pose potential hazards to human workers (you don’t want robots protesting with cans of bear repellent). Proper safety measures must be taken into account during the design, development, and implementation of robotic systems to ensure the safety of all workers.

Physical barriers, sensors, and other safety features have to be implemented to prevent accidents from occurring. This can include things like safety fencing, light curtains, and emergency stop buttons. Proper training, maintenance, and protocol should also be in place to handle any unexpected situations or malfunctions with robots. Additionally, it’s important to have a robust risk assessment process in place to identify and mitigate any potential safety hazards associated with the use of robots in the workplace.

Detailed Applications and Factory Size Matter

When developing a robotics solution, it’s important to take into account the specific applications and factory size. These factors will affect the cost and complexity of the solution and will also have an impact on the overall performance of the robots. For example, a large factory with a high number of robots will require a different solution than a smaller factory with fewer robots. It’s also essential to consider the specific applications that the robots will be performing, as this will affect the design of the solution and the type of robots that are required. Think of it as building a suit for a robot; every robot is different and needs different measurements and features to perform.

It’s Not Marketplace Shopping

While it may be easy to shop online for a new pair of shoes or a new TV, shopping for a robotics solution is a completely different process. A significant amount of research and development goes into creating a robotics solution that will work well within a specific factory or workplace. Think of it as buying a robot from a tailor instead of a ready-made store. You have to provide specific measurements, applications and preferences in order to get a robot that suits your needs. That’s why the role of a system integrator is quite important in this process, as they help to ensure that the robotic system is properly integrated into the existing infrastructure and that it meets all safety and performance requirements. System integrators are specialized companies or professionals who design, implement, and commission robotic systems to meet the specific needs of clients. They have expertise in various areas such as mechanical engineering, control systems, safety, programming, commissioning and maintenance which allows them to provide a comprehensive solution that is safe, efficient, and effective.

The Future of Robotics Manufacturers’ Marketplaces

Robotics is becoming increasingly popular in factories and workplaces worldwide, but it will take years for factories, especially SMEs that still heavily rely on legacy machines, to achieve full digitization and automation. As a result, robotics manufacturers’ marketplaces will eventually die. In the future, the industry will shift towards robotics manufacturers selling solutions, not products. It’s important to note that certain robotic applications or solutions can be replicated across multiple factories or workplaces. This allows companies to take advantage of proven, effective solutions while also addressing the unique needs of each facility. For example, a CNC machine using a robot arm could be replicated in multiple factories. This can help to increase efficiency and reduce costs while also ensuring that the solution is tailored to the specific requirements of each factory.

Not an Off-The-Shelf Solution

Robots are definitely here to change the world. They have the potential to greatly impact the way that various industries operate and can bring many benefits. However, robotics implementation is far from being a standardized solution. The implementation of robotics technology is not a one-size-fits-all solution and requires careful planning and customization to ensure that it is suited to the specific needs of a particular factory or workplace. Shopping for a robotics solution is not as simple as shopping online, and you should really consider what you want your robot to do before getting one. Remember the incident at the Amazon Fulfilment Center? Well, it’s best not to repeat it.

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