Industry 4.0 is at our doorstep. We now live in an age of smart factories, robotics logistics and supply chain automation. Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, machine learning, IoT and big data are key ingredients of this set up, and several industries are already at the forefront of rapid innovation.
Collaborative Robots, or Cobots, are the byproducts and perfect examples of such rapid innovation. They are emerging as a new solution to enhance productivity and complement the existing workforce. Cobots, typically single or dual armed machines, can be easily handled and programed to work in tandem with humans. They are light, agile and ideal for jobs that are repetitive and monotonous. Some are AI-enabled, or come with advanced sensors and machine vision for better accuracy and higher output. From assembling, picking and placing to palletizing and even welding, these robots are being widely applied in several areas of supply chain, fulfilment and manufacturing. They are a preferred alternative to bulky and complex industrial robots and help create a safer working environment.
In recent years, collaborative robots have become a more common sight in logistics centres and assembly lines. The collaborative robots market is poised for exceptional growth over the next few years and is expected to account for 34 percent of the global robotics spend by 2025. The material handling segment is set to experience the largest growth in collaborative robot instalments. The economics of installing cobots have become more viable, and these smart machines have become a more attractive option to help increase productivity and efficiency.
Historically, the automotive industry has been a leader in the use of cobots, where they help pick and place as well as move heavy or bulky material from one spot to another. Their wide range of applications and advantages make them ideal, especially for heavy goods such as electronics and equipment among others. In the last decade, cobots have becoming smaller and more capable of handling smaller items.
Presently, to address the massive growth in e-commerce, we are seeing more companies work around shorter delivery cycles and mass customization of products to satisfy the needs of new consumer demands. These companies have been compelled to innovate and adapt to newer technologies, such as adoption of cobots or deployment of other automation solutions to boost their volume and quality and make the movement of goods quicker and more efficient as well as accurate.
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