Visitors to last month’s Microsoft Ignite conference in Sydney were exposed to some of the technologies that are set to change the face of manufacturing as we know it. And one demonstration that attracted much attention was a collaboration between Omron Electronics and cloud-solution specialist rhipe.
On display was an Omron Techman TM collaborative robot that was connected to the cloud using the Microsoft Azure platform.
“For the first time we were able to show how these traditional robots, which have never talked to the cloud, can be used more efficiently,” said Sridhar Deenadayalan, Head of Azure Practice at rhipe, adding that “by marrying this equipment to the cloud as part of the IoT it opens up a big window of opportunity for a broad range of industries.”
Among the features demonstrated, the robotic arm was sent a request through the cloud to carry out a set of tasks. This included selecting either chocolate or health bars and handing them to a group of people of different ages and genders.
“This was a good demonstration of how an industrial-grade robotic arm can seamlessly integrate with the Azure IoT platform,” said Deenadayalan. “This could be potentially used on a manufacturing sorting line to look for specific items where it can sort through and select certain goods.”
But the real benefit, he added, is using a cloud-based solution to monitor the entire manufacturing process. Data can be pulled from a device (such as a robotic arm), sent to a special dashboard and analysed.
“Statistical and telemetry information could be used to determine how a machine is performing in real time,” said Deenadayalan.
“This means companies can assess the efficiency of the equipment on the floor and perform preventative maintenance if needed.”
The Microsoft Ignite demonstration was the latest fruit of a 5-month collaboration between rhipe and Omron, and the two companies are continuing to develop further cloud-based industry solutions beyond the robotic arm.
“Omron has a suite of IoT products, so we are keen to find new Cloud solutions for our customers and partners and eventually to commercialise those products,” said Deenadayalan.
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