“The factory of the future will result in… a very significant change in business models for both manufacturers and equipment makers.”
– Daniela Costa
Head, European Capital Goods Equity Research
Goldman Sachs Research
Factories are changing, and not just a little bit. One could say that the entire manufacturing industry is going through a metamorphosis. It’s being dubbed as “the fourth industrial revolution”, or Industry 4.0. Along with it comes a sea of new technologies designed to make manufacturing more efficient, flexible and connected.
This new age includes exciting new technologies like collaborative robots, AKA cobots!
These changes will save companies and customers alike big dollars—like $500 billion dollars big—according to Daniela Costa, Head, European Capital Goods Equity Research Goldman Sachs Research. Check out this video and learn more about the three key drivers of this development.
Cobots and Robots
The landscape is definitely changing.
The more traditional industrial robots are automated and programmable. They typically work within cages for safety reasons. These robots perform a variety of tasks like welding, painting, assembly, product inspection and testing. These tasks are accomplished with high endurance, speed and precision.
Collaborative robots, or cobots, are intended to operate autonomously, to physically interact with humans in a shared workspace with limited guidance. In addition, they are capable of learning. Perhaps one of the most important differences between cobots and the more traditional robot is that they work in conjunction with humans in a cooperative environment. For example, cobots are capable of picking up an object and giving it to a human.
With this new generation of robots, you can forget the cages and make way for proper interaction.
Working with Cobots
Cobots literally act as assistants and are involved complex, sensitive tasks that can’t be automated. On top of that they are capable of learning.
It’s important to note that the general belief is that the introduction of cobots will cause layoffs in the work place. This is not the case.
Cobots are tasked with executing tough (safe handling of hot or awkward pieces) or very low value-added jobs. This allows technicians to focus their attention on other aspects of the production chain. Moreover, the expectation is that companies will upskill their human workers in regards to digital tools.
Check out the following video (1.37 minutes) that introduces Baxter, a cobot developed by Rethink Robotics:
Costa states that more communication between real-time enterprise systems and the factory floor and a two way flow of information will allow for real-time optimization of the factory. She also states that management has the option of remote control and monitoring from anywhere within the enterprise and not necessarily the factory floor.
She indicates that manufacturers will be more location agnostic, and focus on where the best supply chains are rather than on labor costs. This will create significant change in business models for decades to come.
For example, in the last few decades, Mexico has transformed itself into a manufacturing haven. With signed 11 trade agreements with 44 nations—more than any other country in the world—it now has duty-free access to 60% of the world’s economic output.
Are you ready for the factory of the future? Are you ready for cobots (collaborative robots)? More importantly, are you ready to maintain the cobots and other manufacturing and automation equipment when they go down?
The Bottom Line
It is an exciting time to live, to experience this transformation known as Industry 4.0. The only way to ride the wave is to grow with the changes—whether you are an individual looking to grow your current skill set or you’re a manager that need to train your team, Simutech’s Troubleshooting Skills Training System will help you get to where you need to be in today’s demanding market.