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Why Automation is Good for the Economy

When science fiction writers started to predict that robots would someday take over many of the jobs that human workers do, they probably didn’t realize that the time would come so quickly. In the last 10 years, engineers and computer scientists have made rapid advances in the design and production of robots. Computers and robots are everywhere, but especially in the manufacturing industry. Automation will certainly change the way people do work, but that doesn’t mean that the overall number of jobs will decrease or that the economy will suffer. We can tell you about some of the ways that automation will increase jobs and the overall growth of the economy.

The Saved and Re-Invested Company Money

If a manufacturer invests in automation, it can save the business money and create jobs for people who assemble, design, and maintain the automated machines. There’s always the risk that the jobs that have become automated will be lost, but when companies have more money, they can hire in other areas, increase their existing employees’ wages, or start new off-shoot companies. This creates more money flowing through the economy and provides opportunities.

The Nature of Technological Advancement

In terms of the people creating and maintaining the machines, their skills will be highly valued. More people will study engineering and robotics, and skilled jobs will steadily grow in demand. Even what could be considered unskilled jobs, or assembly of machines or routine maintenance, will need to be completed by humans. Over the course of history, humans and machines have always worked in tandem. When the first stone chisel was invented, it took fewer people and less work to cut things, but it created a whole new field of possibilities for what humans could do with the saved time and energy. If you think about the evolution of technology as this type of progress, saved and redistributed effort, then robots are just the next phase and the economy will continue to adapt and flourish as a result. Economies adapt to these types of shifts in each age, and preventing innovation isn’t really an option anyway.

Staying Competitive

The fact is, automation has been proven to save companies resources, so eventually any company that wants to be competitive is going to invest in it. If a country wants to stay at the top of their respective field, they’ll invest in this convenient and cutting-edge technology. Automation will not only create new types of jobs and increase liquid revenue in the economy, it will also pave the way for even more advances in the future that will be the foundation of economies then.

What You Need to Know About Industrial Painting Robots

Many years ago, robots ceased being an element of science fiction and futuristic trends. In fact, robots have been in use for more than 50 years in industrial and production settings. Robots were once large and expensive, and performed tasks too big or heavy for human workers. Today, smaller, specialized robots work side-by-side with humans in the same workspace, and cost a fraction of what they once did.

One area where robotics technology has excelled is in the area of industrial painting. Through specialized operator programming, an industrial painting robot is able to flawlessly and consistently produce a high-quality paint finish. The technology is used not only in large scale operations such as car manufacturing plants, but also in smaller settings that require a higher level of intricate and flexible responses, such as multi-component production.

By adding robotic vision technologies, industrial painting robots are able to analyze and inspect an object, determine the location of edges, recognize patterns, evaluate size, and a variety of other tasks. Robot vision is a combination of software, sensors, algorithms, and cameras that connect with the robot system and the application to guide it through a specified process. With this rapidly growing technology, robots can now recognize components, determine what parts to pick up or put down, and what areas to paint on an object. We can also program painting robots for pinpoint accuracy and unique specifications—no more drips or overspray issues.

Robotic technologies are providing new options for businesses, small and large, to compete in the global marketplace. Here are some of the ways that painting robots are changing the industrial and manufacturing landscape:

More Work, Less Space

  • With the development of slimmer, dual-armed models which have the capability of reaching farther, robots can be installed in smaller locations, such as a wall, a shelf, or even on a rail. This allows painting robots to perform a multitude of tasks using less space.
  • Additionally, through the development of anti-collision software, several robots are able to work in close proximity to one another without incident, performing joint or specialized tasks, which increases productivity.

Increased Workplace Safety

  • Workplace safety is a constant concern for all types of businesses, but especially in an industrial or manufacturing environment. In the past, robots were caged and secured in order to protect the human workers as well as the other robotic devices around them. Today, humans are able to work in close proximity to robots, and while safety procedures are still required, there is no longer the need for the complicated safety protocols of the past. Programming determines specific space proximities and limitations to enhance safety.
  • Exposure to hazardous materials has long been an issue in industrial settings. The chemical compounds found in paint are known to cause adverse health effects in human workers. Through robotic alternatives, such as using industrial painting robots, that risk is minimized.
  • Less hazardous waste is created due to the improved consistency of paint application by painting robots.

The business atmosphere of today demands high-quality product output, increased profitability, and the ability to adjust technology to meet not only the needs of the company, but also market demand. For 17 years, Concept Systems has provided the latest technological and innovative solutions for our customers’ operations. For information on a customized solution for your manufacturing and production needs, contact us.

Collision Avoidance Moves into More Dynamic Automation Environments

Manufacturing environments are busy places with multiple machines, bustling workers and numerous machine-human interactions. Avoiding collisions between robots and humans is a high priority. Some solutions require a multilayered approach, integrating a variety of technologies, to create a reliable system. As more manufacturers add robots, there’s an increased interest in ensuring they work safely with each other and with humans.

Manufacturers that deploy robotic painters, such as the one shown here, can use a multilayered approach that integrates a variety of technologies to create a system that reliably reduces the risks of collisions. Courtesy of FANUC.

Manufacturers that deploy robotic painters, such as the one shown here, can use a multilayered approach that integrates a variety of technologies to create a system that reliably reduces the risks of collisions. Courtesy of FANUC.

Leveraging techniques from stacker cranes
Companies that increase their use of robotic automation can learn from collision avoidance techniques used with cranes, which received early attention because a collision with equipment in the work environment or the component itself was unacceptable. This posed a serious safety hazard that could cost thousands of dollars in lost production time and rework or scrap. By using 3D vision and industrial computers, collisions are now largely avoidable.
As technologies advance, dramatic system improvements are possible. That was the case with Boeing, which found its floor-based registration system for painting planes no longer provided the accuracy it needed. As a long-time partner to Boeing, Concept Systems Inc. stepped in to assist the aircraft manufacturer in addressing this issue by deploying a new collision avoidance system.

A key component of the new system adopted by Boeing in one of its paint hangers was the proximity query package (PQP), which can detect imminent collisions between two computer-generated objects. Information about the exact size and shape of the plane is exported from Boeing’s design software and then rendered as a 3D graphic in OpenGL, a widely accepted open graphics standard. It similarly renders the stacker platforms for validation and troubleshooting the system. Continue Reading →

How to Determine Robot ROI

As robotic performance continues to accelerate, now is the perfect time for mid-sized companies that have been waiting for a decline in robotic prices to deploy these automated solutions. Here’s how to determine the value of this decision.

robotic-pick-place2While reading a report by The Boston Consulting Group, I learned that global sales of industrial robots rose by 23 percent last year, with deliveries expected to double to 400,000 a year by 2018. The report also predicted that industrial robot pricing will continue to decline over the next decade by more than 20 percent. If this holds true, it will make more applications viable for robots, thereby decreasing the investment required for integration—which is the primary roadblock keeping many manufacturers from moving forward with robots. In fact, the one question I hear most often from clients is: “What’s the ROI on my investment in robotic automation?” Continue Reading →

Reaching new heights

Concept team: (from left to right) Donavan Moore, Wayne Williams, Shane Cooley, and Jerry Flynn with the FANUC M-2000ia.

Concept team: (from left to right) Donavan Moore, Wayne Williams, Shane Cooley, and Jerry Flynn with the FANUC M-2000ia.

Last year was in an exciting year for us, integrating 33 FANUC robots! Now integration begins on FANUC’s largest robot. The impressive FANUC M-2000ia has arrived at Concept Systems! This robot is a heavy-lifter, offered with a 900Kg (2,094lbs) capacity or 1350Kg (2,976lbs) capacity, so it can handle huge objects. Watch the robot in action to see for yourself.

Concept Systems growth in robotics workcells has been transformed due to our FANUC partnership.
To learn more about the FANUC robots, visit FANUC America.

Humans and robots work safely together

projects-roboticsTogether, humans and robots can achieve new levels of efficiency and productivity that neither could achieve alone.

A collaborative robot interacts directly with a human in a defined cooperative workspace, which allows both to safely perform tasks simultaneously. This new frontier creates a wealth of new opportunities for robots and humans to work safely together.

A risk assessment is an important first step. As we’ve learned in our work with customers, the best approach is to let the robot adapt to humans.

Learn more about standards and the guidance they provide. Continue Reading →