Robots weld, weld, paint, transport, and work alongside people in a variety of ways. They have become a key player in the industry and service sector. A quick look at the numbers reveals the importance of these technical assistants, especially in industry. According to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), about one million robots were in use worldwide in 2010. This number has tripled to more than three million by 2020. That doesn’t surprise Leonardo Linni, director of robotics and discrete automation at ABB at Italia. Companies are installing robots to improve productivity, reduce costs, and ultimately increase their profits. In fact, robotics is making them more competitive—on a sustainable basis. “
Robots are already moving into more areas of application than ever before. The boom of e-commerce in recent years has led to the emergence of autonomous, intelligent and secure systems for loading and unloading packages. New possibilities are also emerging with regard to e-mobility. In many places, for example, electric vehicle charging is being facilitated by automated assistants. In collaboration with the US-based company Dorman, ABB has successfully automated the recycling of electric vehicle batteries – at an astounding rate. By using robots, manufacturing time can be shortened by 66 percent and daily production of “battery packs” can be tripled.
In addition, robots are integrating more innovations from related technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing, and 5G mobile communications. About ten times faster than their fourth-generation predecessors, 5G systems can transmit larger amounts of data without a time delay. This in turn encourages new Industry 4.0 solutions and also allows robots to be used in remote operations.
Higher productivity thanks to robots
Despite the benefits they offer to the industry now, robots were a cause of some concern in their early days. Claudio Brusatori, partner at Porsche Consulting Italia and head of the ABB client team, recalls the fear that machines would end up marginalizing humans. But rather than displacement, there are more industrial strategies that get people and robots to work together. “Easy to use, simple, agile, and responsive robots are now being designed to interact closely with humans,” he says. “They are evolving from tools into highly sophisticated and collaborative machines – enhancing processes and enhancing employee well-being.”
Even if robots are going to replace humans, Brusatori explains, it will be in areas we won’t miss. Robots relieve humans from the need to enter dangerous locations or toxic environments. They can carry heavy loads under adverse conditions and are unaffected by polluting materials.” Even former skeptics now recognize the benefits that robots can offer in terms of sustainable and productive work. Initial hesitation has given way to a new sense of opportunity.
A quantum leap in production processes
“We are witnessing a real paradigm shift in our production processes,” says ABB Director Leani. “Robots have proven to be a simple and versatile way to increase quality and productivity here in a wide range of industries.” Although more companies want to enjoy the benefits of modern robotics, they are not always willing to invest the large sums needed for high-quality technical systems. Manufacturers such as ABB have responded to this situation by introducing new sales models – including leases for fixed periods of time – to attract customers, including those who are cautious about cash flow levels.
Long-term developments such as the shortage of qualified workers in Europe give Leani more reason to believe that companies will continue the trend towards “robomates”. A survey of 1,650 international industry decision-makers conducted by ABB and market research institute 3Gem Global Market in January 2021 also confirms this trend. About 85 percent of respondents believe that the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred wider use of automated technologies. Almost as many (84 percent) expect their companies to introduce robots or other automated systems within the next decade, or further expand their existing systems.
However, sales data from the IFR present a calmer picture. The numbers of industrial robots installed in 2019 and 2020 are significantly lower than those for 2018. A record 422 systems were installed in 2018, but only 382 systems were installed in 2019. However, the number of systems delivered remained under Covid in 2020 stable at 384.
Additional factors can contribute to market uncertainty. A dramatic shift in the customer structure for industrial robots occurred in 2020. Since the first industrial robots were sold to General Motors in 1961 and installed at its New Jersey plant, the auto industry has been the largest buyer of these technologies. However, in 2020, the electronics sector has taken over as the premium customer. The repercussions of this changing of the guard cannot be predicted with any certainty at present.
ABB strives to significantly reduce customers’ carbon emissions
Linney and his colleagues aim to promote sustainability not just in sales. ABB also wants to take responsibility and help reduce carbon emissions. Lenny has set ambitious goals. It wants to help its customers reduce annual carbon emissions by at least 100 megatons by 2030. That’s roughly equivalent to the annual emissions of 30 million cars or 40 coal-fired power plants. “This is a way to achieve carbon neutrality in all of our plants and reduce emissions along the entire supply chain.”
Leani is charting a course of modernization in other areas as well. It places a premium not only on employee and contractor satisfaction, but also on diversity, gender, generational, and LGBTQ+ equity at the company. “In terms of gender equality, we’re trying to equalize the number of managers and employees we have by 2030,” he says. Promoting a good work environment seems like an excellent idea when there is a shortage of skilled workers – especially in areas where robots cannot yet be used.
Founded in 1988, ABB and its predecessors can look back on more than 130 years of outstanding innovation. The company’s origins lie in the merger of ASEA and the BBC, which were formed in 1883 and 1891 respectively. ABB Robotics is represented in more than 100 countries and is active in the robotics, energy and automation sectors. These areas are divided into four macro areas: electricity, process automation, motion, and robotics. ABB has achieved impressive market success with products such as the FlexPicker packaging robot designed in 1998, the world’s first truly collaborative robot called YuMi, launched in 2015, and ABB Ability, a pioneering digital solution introduced in 2017 that connects customers to the Internet. industrial things.
The text was first published in Porsche Advisory Magazine.
#jobs #robots #Porsche #Newsroom