Automated Operations: The Integration of Cobots in the Workplace of the Future
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Automation continues to transform several businesses. After more than a year of confronting the challenging circumstances the global pandemic has brought, more companies across various industries are beginning to automate their workplaces. This provides them with a solution to significantly reduce the risk of transmission and it has also been observed to boost overall productivity.
The adoption of robots in the workplace is not an unusual practice for large-scale businesses. For small and medium enterprises (SMEs), however, it can be quite a costly investment. The rise of collaborative robots, more commonly known as cobots, has made automation more accessible to much smaller businesses.
While there is a fervent debate regarding the possibility of robots taking the place of human employees, experts would argue that automation can eventually lead to better job creation in the future. Generally, cobots are simply tasked to streamline mundane tasks while working alongside human employees.
The Benefits of Cobots
Cobots are much safer and more reliable than typical industrial robots. They are equipped with enhanced sensors, like vision systems for robots, making them more accurate and precise when it comes to automated processes. Cobots are also enabled by artificial intelligence (AI), eliminating the need for pre-programming. Instead, this improvement allows them to learn, evolve, and adjust over time.
The market for cobots has been growing steadily over the past few years. The cobot industry was worth less than $400 million in 2017 until it grew by 60% in 2018, reaching nearly $600 million. Subsequently, the market increased in 2019, when it hit $669.9 million. It is projected to reach $7.6 billion in 2027. Cobots are worthwhile investments since they are much more inexpensive compared to industrial robots.
Convenience is another advantage that cobots possess against traditional robots. They are usually mobile, which allows for easier transportation and transitions within the workplace. Coupled with their enhanced sensors, cobots are also able to easily identify obstacles and humans around them. This helps in maintaining safety within the workplace.
Businesses surely have a lot to gain should they consider investing in the adoption of cobots. There is still lots of untold potential to be unfolded from these machines, which can serve to improve productivity and efficiency significantly. Not to mention the substantial reductions in costs that these machines can contribute to maximizing gains.
It seems the domination of cobots, particularly within SMEs, is imminent. Cobots can help improve business functions and operations regardless of their sector. Here are some of the most notable industries that have been benefiting from automation by integrating cobots.
Much like industrial robots, cobots have been used extensively when it comes to improving manufacturing operations. Robots generally serve the purpose of automating repetitive and mundane tasks; cobots are not entirely different in this regard.
There are several applications for cobots in the manufacturing industry that significantly enhance efficiency. For instance, some cobots are primarily utilized for packaging tasks like shrink-wrapping, assembly, and loading. Others can conduct quality inspections on products and equipment given their sophisticated cameras.
Cobots can also be used to improve certain operations in medical institutions that could potentially spell the difference between life and death. With the appropriate exposure and opportunity for machine learning, they could greatly reshape the role that robots play in medicine.
A great example would be the use of cobots for assistance during surgeries. In this case, surgeons can perform a medical procedure with greater precision and accuracy, leading to higher success rates. Cobots could also function as medical assistants for patients to help monitor their health conditions. They can easily notify nurses, and other personnel should human assistance be required.
Farming requires a lot of processes, from crop selection and sowing to harvesting. Often, farms are faced with a considerable shortage of labor, making these activities much more taxing. These processes can easily be simplified should farmers consider the adoption of cobots.
Autonomous tractors and other comprehensive sensors have been applied to various farms in the past. Cobots, in particular, can help ease the harvesting of crops and their transportation. Being equipped with high-definition cameras and lasers, they can easily identify which crops are ready to harvest. Autonomous cow milking is also a possible avenue for cobots to improve farm productivity.
Automating food processes, especially in fast-food settings, can be crucial for businesses in the food industry. Convenience is one of the most important aspects for consumers when choosing to support a particular establishment.
Cobots can be deployed to perform simple cooking tasks like mixing drinks, cooking fries, or flipping burgers. This presents business owners with an opportunity to cut down on staff or shift their priorities towards more important operations, like front-of-the-house management. Cobots can also help chefs meet high demands when it comes to food preparation and service.
Man and Machine Relations
As more research and development is poured into emerging technologies, it will eventually prompt a reshaping of the traditional workplace. Moreover, this will provide a much different work experience that will help businesses maximize their gains. Interactions between human employees and productive machines, like cobots, will become a common sight even in the post-pandemic era.
Within the context of the global pandemic, automation appears to be the most efficient and cost-effective path forward. The integration of cobots within the workplace is a necessary change that businesses should begin considering as early as now.