In the business climate of today, it’s no longer an option to run a manufacturing facility as greenly as possible- it's a necessity. With the rising cost of doing business, finding ways to help the environment and reduce costs is a new standard. It's a standard that many are working hard to achieve in their daily business operations.
For manufacturing facilities, with their large working spaces and equipment-driven operations, going green can be even more critical. Finding ways to help the environment can be challenging but there are four simple ways to make a decent level of “green” impact:
A collaborative robot or cobot is a robot designed to assist humans as a guide or helper in completing a specific task or set of tasks. A regular robot is designed to be programmed to work mostly autonomously. In contrast, a cobot is programmed to work alongside a human in a helpful capacity. Depending upon the capacity, having a robotic "helping hand" can make a big difference in terms of productivity.
Non collaborative robots are designed to work autonomously. In fact industrial robots are far too dangerous to share space with humans and have been linked to many fatal accidents. They are great at performing monotonous jobs and complete heavy lifting but when they make contact with humans they can cause serious injury.
Collaborative robots, on the other hand, are designed to work alongside humans and can even complete tasks that help prevent injuries with the humans they work alongside. The most advanced cobots are functionally flexible so they can switch quickly between a range of tasks. They even emulate humans and, in some instances, respond to facial expressions to understand what is expected. It's fascinating to consider that technology has progressed to the point where a human facial expression can help a robot "think" and respond to a given task.
Technology has evolved beyond merely driving efficiency in the workplace and has moved towards enhancing the capabilities of a workforce by becoming a collaborative partner. Wearable robotic devices and smart machines have enabled man and machine to work together. The teamwork approach leverages capabilities of both humans and machines to create a most effective and efficient partnership. Cobots fit well into this equation. In fact, for some organizations, cobots can literally transform an entire operation.
How do you know if cobots are a great fit for your company?
Cobots are mostly used to boost performance, and this can be valuable in just about any industry that exists. Any type of environment in which things can be automated with human/cobot collaboration would be suited to introducing or building collaborative robots into existing workflow. Based on technological advances, cobots seem suited to both repetitive tasks, as well as, a series of changeable tasks. Odds are good this will only improve over time.
Companies that produce cobots are even planning for future needs. What works in an environment today may need to be greatly expanded in the future. By producing robots that can gain expanded capabilities to match growth and future need, robot manufacturers can help companies in any industry save time and money. They can also gain efficiency as it is required. A company that invests in cobots for their organization today will continue to benefit from expanded capabilities moving forward because of today's designs with the future in mind.
Collaborative robots are manufactured today in a way that is very effective. They are built so that they are easy to set up, flexible to work with, safe, and cost effective for various business types and sizes.
Once cobots are well established in industrial environments, they'll probably begin to appear in domestic environments too. Of course, this will present new challenges that will have to be overcome. Some day robots may serve humans breakfast, but while the challenges are being overcome, breakfast may end up in a human's lap until the kinks are worked out (see "The Breakfast Machine" below). Progress takes time. It will be interesting to see how things evolve.
It’s been 51 years since the birth of the Programmable Logic Controller. We look back at the history of the PLC and how replacing hard wired relay systems changed the world of manufacturing.
It was the year 1964 when a young cunning engineer, Dick Morley, was unemployed, had a new baby, a mortgage to pay and only $1,000 in the bank. Morley had previously worked a desk job designing atomic bombs, aeroplanes and communication systems performing the duties he was instructed to do. Morley did not enjoy his job, and, at that time, he had no plans in the pipeline to create such an influential piece of automated equipment. After finding his passion for skiing, Morely quit his job and focused on his hobby which eventually lead him to engineering ideas.
Morley eventually opened up his own professional consulting firm with friend Geogre Schwenk under the name ‘Bedford Associates’’ located in Bedford, Massachusetts, USA. Morley and Schwenk worked with local machine tool firms to help them evolve into the new, solid-state manufacturing sphere. Unfortunately, as his firm progressed, he began to notice that each project he worked on was practically the same; the manufacturing industry was using similar minicomputers and Morley found himself bored.
With his creativity and his engineering motive to ‘make things work’, Morley started to wonder if he could invent a controller which could automate industrial process with multiple input/output arrangements in real time. This would alternately replace the likes of hard wired relay control systems.
When marketing is at its best, creative people get together and create interesting, attention-grabbing content. Sometimes it's two people chatting. Sometimes it's a formal meeting of creative people. Regardless of who it is, inevitably it becomes interesting. As the thoughts flow from creative person to creative person, things tend to emerge that give flight to ideas and allow for expression in an unusual and sometimes powerful way. Other times it’s just fun and makes us laugh as we develop concepts and throw around puns. And usually it’s a little bit of everything mixed together. When it works, you definitely can feel it.
At Radwell International, we are known for the quality of products and outstanding level of service we provide to our clients. One of our services is our repair capabilities. Although we are known for being able to provide all kinds of repairs for all kinds of industrial automation equipment, it’s easy to overlook some of the more basic items that we are also capable of fixing for our customers. Items like temperature gauges, process controls, timers and counters are items we are just as capable of repairing as much larger items.
It’s so easy to overlook a small display or a dial. Many of our clients wouldn’t even think about having these items repaired. Yet in our NJ Headquarters, we have an entire repair team dedicated to exactly these types of repairs. Repairs in this category are fully testable, and the parts are easy for us to replace if we can’t fix the item. Sounds like a win-win!
Steve Ramirez, a long time Repair Technician with Radwell International, is an expert when it comes to these types of repairs. Steve started with Radwell in July of 1999, working in the calibration lab. Basically, he has been repairing these types of parts for the past 16 years!
One of the most important things to have knowledge of when working in an industrial automation or warehouse environment is maintaining a safe workplace for all levels of employees. Jim Malia, Warehouse Manager, and Gary Wenrich, Logistics Operations Manager, both at Radwell International's headquarters in Lumberton, NJ, offered some basic operating principles that can help anyone in a warehouse environment operate in a safe manner.
From the first day it arrived at Radwell International, our x-ray unit has been an incredibly useful and valuable tool to help our technicians help our customers. By utilizing the x-ray machine, our customers benefit from an additional level of testing, evaluation and inspection that wasn’t possible prior to the machine’s arrival.
As automation capability continues to grow and strengthen in the workplace, many are wondering if humans will be left out in the cold when it comes to employment. It seems that people and experts sit on both sides of the fence in this argument. Some believe, with absolute certainty, that robots will take over up to 30% of jobs currently performed by humans within the next ten years. Others feel it is unlikely that robots will be able to evolve quickly enough to emulate humans in the most important way: our ability to respond to other humans. Still others believe that robots and humans will work together to make the process of manufacturing a team-oriented and more efficient exercise. Each of the view points is fairly compelling and it will be interesting to see which viewpoint holds the most merit as the decade progresses.