I, (industrial) Robot
The development of Industry 4.0 has paved the way for the increasingly widespread use of state-of-the-art automation systems, even in smaller companies. Industrial robotics seems to have reached very high levels of efficiency and consensus, making it impossible in many cases to carry out work without its use.
What are the technological innovations that can make the difference? And how can they coexist with the human workforce to become an added value for the company?
Industrial robotics is an automation system capable of replacing humans within the assembly line. It includes mechanical instruments designed to independently perform work that is always identical at a constant and fast pace: robots.
Without disturbing Asimov, it is possible to identify an industrial robot as a reprogrammable multifunction tool, designed to manage objects through previously programmed movements. It can acquire data from the external environment and is able to process them, developing an artificial intelligence to optimize its work.
➡️ Here are the mechanical structures of the most common robots:
- cartesian typology, which manage to position objects with extreme care and precision. They are very rigid due to their mechanical structure and do not allow to orient an object;
- anthropomorphic, which attempt to reproduce the human body and the movements of the arm. These are the main manipulator systems used in industrial robotics;
- SCARA (Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm), able to vary the degree of stiffness with which they must operate: with heavy loads the rigidity is high, with light loads is reduced to a minimum. This feature is ideal for vertical assembly.
➡️ There is also another classification, which divides robots into three types:
- first level, an industrial robot programmed to carry out and faithfully reproduce the assigned task: through a specific software it operates according to pre-set parameters (speed, direction, distance, acceleration) and performing coordinated movements;
- second level, when it has a flexible internal system to adapt to different work situations: the mechanical structure can plan the trajectory to adapt it to the shape and size of the object;
- third level, an industrial robot with neural networks that can make decisions independently. This typology is not yet used in the industrial world, but some prototypes are under development.
The industrial robots used today can collaborate perfectly with human beings and in the coming years the interaction is destined to grow, especially with the development and introduction of new technologies able to maximize efficiency inside of the industrial world.
In the field of Industry 4.0, a smart factory can be defined as a company that adopts automated and intelligent processing systems such as robotic systems and IT systems capable of allowing machines to communicate and operate in the real world, the CPS (Cyber-Physical Systems).
Within a smart factory there are more efficient and autonomous intelligent processing techniques for which the presence of man is not as fundamental as before.
The Internet of Things and Big Data management are essential elements, closely linked to CPS systems, for the management and real-time control of all business processes.
➡️ The question arises spontaneously, and we have already spoken about it: what will be the role of man within this new industrial revolution? How is possible to develop a collaboration and make the most of new major improvements in Industry 4.0?
According to Eric Schaeffer, senior managing director of Accenture, “the factories and company management will be composed of an integrated workforce. Together human beings and intelligent machines will be able to generate such a value that they could never reach operating individually. The consequence will be the appearance of different and more qualified professionals“.
➡️ Enriching one’s skills therefore means proactively facing the revolutionary changes taking place, while at the same time maintaining the central role of people who, in close contact with the new intelligent systems, can exponentially increase the efficiency and productivity of their company.
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