The integration of artificial intelligence with industrial robots is revolutionizing the manufacturing industry, offering increased flexibility, productivity, and resilience in the face of various challenges. In a world grappling with the aftermath of the COVID pandemic, geopolitical tensions, rising energy costs, and inflation, businesses are seeking innovative solutions to overcome labor shortages and supply chain disruptions. Robotic automation is emerging as a key driver of productivity enhancement while addressing these pressing concerns.
Robots have already demonstrated their ability to save energy, improve production speed, and streamline processes. Through the use of artificial intelligence, robots are becoming even more adaptable and efficient. AI algorithms enable robots to learn and respond to unpredictable production situations, making them an ideal solution for highly variable environments. While analytical AI has been widely used in industrial applications, generative AI is on the horizon, promising easier programming for new tasks through simple human-like communication.
The impact of AI is extending beyond heavy industries, with smaller businesses across sectors like healthcare, retail, and logistics adopting robotic automation. Automation is becoming more accessible to non-experts, thanks to user-friendly interfaces and refurbished robots. Furthermore, AI-enhanced robotics are finding applications in niche areas where automation was previously challenging.
A prime example of the power of AI in robotics is ABB’s Robotic Item Picker, which combines machine vision and AI to determine the best way to pick and place items without human intervention or detailed knowledge of the items’ physical attributes. In quality inspections, ABB’s 3D Quality Inspection system utilizes structured light and photogrammetry to quickly and accurately assess part quality, reducing rework and scrappage.
AI is also improving the guidance of Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) through Visual SLAM technology. By creating a real-time 3D map of the environment, AMRs can navigate efficiently and adapt to their surroundings without the need for external navigation features.
To build resilience, industry leaders are investing in education and training programs to develop a skilled workforce capable of harnessing the potential of robotics and AI. For instance, ABB is collaborating with the University of Applied Sciences (UAS) at Wiener Neustadt to offer a bachelor’s degree in robotics and mechatronics, equipping students with the necessary expertise to contribute to the future of the industry.
These advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence are driving efficiency, productivity, and adaptability in manufacturing and beyond. By embracing automation and upskilling the workforce, businesses can navigate the challenges of the modern world and thrive in an increasingly competitive landscape.
1. How are robots saving energy in manufacturing?
Robots save energy in manufacturing by reducing the need for heating production lines and using smart, power-saving modes of operation.
2. How can robots support reshoring and improve supply chains?
Robots can support reshoring by bringing production closer to markets, reducing reliance on distant suppliers. This ensures better access to parts and strengthens supply chains.
3. How are robots becoming easier to use for non-experts?
Robots are incorporating simple graphical programming and user-friendly interfaces, making them more accessible to non-experts who can easily operate and program them.
4. How does AI enhance robotics?
AI algorithms enable robots to learn and adapt to unpredictable production situations, making them more versatile and cost-effective than ever before.
5. How is AI-enhanced robotics being used in various industries?
ABB’s AI-enabled robotics is being utilized in industries such as healthcare, fast-moving consumer goods, retail, construction, and logistics, offering improved efficiency and automation in diverse applications.