Over the past 30 or so years I have seen some highly innovative and even world-class robotic solutions employed in Australian and NZ industry. And when you consider the size of our manufacturing industry the population of robots employed is pretty good compared with other developed nations.
The fact is that the modern industrial robot is ideally suited to the difficult manufacturing landscape that exists in our part of the world today even more so than 30 years ago. Low volumes, small batch sizes and ever-changing requirements are all in the robot DNA.
Indeed, I have often thought that if robots had not already been invented elsewhere somebody down-under would have come up with the concept as it’s such a perfect fit for our industry. And here are ten good reasons why (in no particular order):
• Robots are highly flexible tools that can be adapted to ever-changing client requirements.
• There is a huge range of payload and reach options from which to choose.
• Today’s robots are really simple to program - virtually anybody can grasp the basics of robot programming.
• And that programming is so user friendly that end users can edit or change programs themselves if they choose to.
• There’s a huge number of standard tools, grippers etc and software options available.
• Today’s communications options make it really easy for a robot to fit into an existing plant.
• Safety is at an all-time high, with CE-compliant safety modules built in.
• Robots are highly versatile with the ability to do more than one application at the same time.
• Robots commonly have 50 thousand hours MTBF so are very reliable.
• And last but not least is price. You get a lot more robot nowadays for far less outlay, simply because of the sheer volumes the robot manufacturers produce.
Actually, the robot manufacturers look like they’ve really got it made. They use their own robots to make more robots, working 24 hours a day with minimal “thermal unit input” (human labour) and with no need to turn on either the lights or the heating!
That’s a business model we could all learn from. So if you haven’t yet got around to looking at what robots can do for your plant then now is as good a time as any.
Colin Wells is Managing Director of Robotic Automation.