The latest MHI View video from MHI provides a Next-Gen Supply Chain Update on Digital Connectivity. With customer expectations for better and faster service, supply chains are feeling the pressure to perform flawlessly, efficiently and transparently. Falling behind during this critical time can have catastrophic consequences. That’s why the 2019 MHI Annual Industry Report includes a digital supply chain adoption framework and assessment tool to help companies identify where they are and how to move forward with digital adoption.
June 25, 2019
Low latency and cloud intelligence are the two main features of 5G that will significantly change the deployment of mission critical and business critical robots, particularly those deployed outdoors. According to ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm providing strategic guidance on the most compelling transformative technologies, the commercialization of a 5G network is expected to usher in the significant growth of commercial robotics. Shipments of 5G robots are expected to reach 570,000 by 2027, largely deployed in mission critical and business critical settings. Outdoor applications that will be enabled by 5G connectivity include public safety and first responders, critical asset inspection, last mile delivery and transportation, precision agriculture, field extraction, and haulage.
Traditionally, high-speed broadband connectivity is only available to robotics systems in indoor environments via Wi-Fi and broadband fiber. Therefore, existing outdoor commercial and industrial robots are often fully autonomous devices with onboard intelligence. With 5G, robots’ capabilities will be upgraded.
“Existing onboard capabilities, such as object and people detection, path planning, and optimization can be shifted to the cloud to benefit from a larger set of data lake,” said Lian Jye Su, Principal Analyst at ABI Research. “At the same time, robotics systems will have access to capabilities that could not be previously hosted on existing systems. At present, remote control appears to be the focus, with Toyota’s T-HR3 and Naver’s AMBITEX, but the real game-changers will be conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI) and swarm intelligence. 5G’s low latency will enable robotics vendors to augment the onboard intelligence or even move parts of it to the cloud to introduce new capabilities to existing robotics hardware. Enterprise users will be able to connect their fleet of outdoor robots to the cloud and enjoy the performance, scalability, and flexibility of the cloud-based intelligence.”
In order to enable 5G capabilities, robotics vendors must work closely with connectivity and chipset vendors in their design and prototyping phase to maximize the benefits of ubiquitous connectivity. Qualcomm has recently launched the Robotics RB3 Platform, powered by its Snapdragon 845 SoC with future 5G upgradability and Inseego has partnered with CloudMinds to provide 5G connectivity to the XR-1 Cloud Robot. By integrating Long-Term Evolution (LTE) and 5G connectivity from the onset, robotics vendors can provide a clear roadmap in terms of future upgrades. The clear connectivity roadmap will provide the industry guidance on the future capabilities that cellular connectivity can enable. This includes multi-access edge computing that provides computing, networking, and caching at the network edge and wide area machine-to-machine communication that facilitates situational awareness and information exchange between mobile robots, cloud platforms and surrounding infrastructure.
“In the long run, 5G will become the de facto connectivity method for outdoor robots. As a global standard, 5G enjoys economies of scale. This brings down the total cost of ownership of 5G networks and the price of 5G modem chipsets, allowing robotics developers to integrate 5G connectivity with ease,” Su concluded.
These findings are from ABI Research’s 5G for Critical Communications in Outdoor Robots application analysis report. This report is part of the company’s Industrial, Collaborative & Commercial Robotics research service, which includes research, data, and Executive Foresights. Based on extensive primary interviews, Application Analysis reports present in-depth analysis on key market trends and factors for a specific application, which could focus on an individual market or geography.
About ABI Research | ABI Research provides strategic guidance for visionaries needing market foresight on the most compelling transformative technologies, which reshape workforces, identify holes in a market, create new business models and drive new revenue streams. ABI’s own research visionaries take stances early on those technologies, publishing groundbreaking studies often years ahead of other technology advisory firms. ABI analysts deliver their conclusions and recommendations in easily and quickly absorbed formats to ensure proper context. Our analysts strategically guide visionaries to take action now and inspire their business to realize a bigger picture. For more information about ABI Research’s forecasting, consulting and teardown services, visit www.abiresearch.com.
June 18, 2019
Robot orders in North America declined slightly in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same period last year, according to the latest statistics released by the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), an organization of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3). North American companies ordered a total of 7,876 robots valued at $423 million during the three months, a decline of 3.5 percent in units and 3.2 percent in dollars compared to the first quarter of 2018.
The decline was driven by a decrease in orders from automotive component suppliers (-16 percent), plastics and rubber (-16 percent), electronics (-17 percent), and metals (-17 percent). Orders from automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) were up 41 percent, however, as were orders from the food and consumer goods industries (+32 percent). Another bright spot was the solid increase in orders over the fourth quarter of 2018, with units up nearly 16 percent and revenue up nearly 9 percent.
Shipments Normalize from a Record Year in 2018
In the first quarter of 2019, 7,577 robots, valued at $452 million, were shipped, down 29 percent in units and nearly 11 percent in dollars from the same period last year.
“We are coming off a record year in 2018 so slight declines aren’t unexpected, and long-term signs remain very healthy,” said Jeff Burnstein, RIA president. Burnstein cited the strong growth of the recent Automate 2019 show in Chicago in April, where attendance soared 25 percent over the 2017 show.
“Many of the Automate show attendees are just beginning to explore how robotics and automation can help their companies become stronger global competitors,” Burnstein added. “Their expected purchases over the next year or so should help the industry grow going forward.”
About RIA | Founded in 1974, RIA is a not-for-profit trade association dedicated to improving the regional, national and global competitiveness of the North American manufacturing and service sectors through promotion and enhancement of robotics and related automation. RIA represents over 550 robot manufacturers, system integrators, component suppliers, end users, consulting firms, research groups, and educational institutions. For more details on RIA, visit www.robotics.org.
About Association for Advancing Automation (A3) | The Association for Advancing Automation is the global advocate for the benefits of automating. A3 promotes automation technologies and ideas that transform the way business is done. A3 is the umbrella group for Robotic Industries Association (RIA), AIA – Advancing Vision + Imaging, Motion Control & Motor Association (MCMA) and A3 Mexico. RIA, AIA, MCMA and A3 Mexico combined represent over 1,200 automation manufacturers, component suppliers, system integrators, end users, research groups and consulting firms from throughout the world that drive automation forward. For more information, visit www.a3automate.org.
June 7, 2019
Autonomous Mobile Robot Implementation Helps Hirotec America Advance Toward Goal Of Lights-Out Operations
It’s a robot revolution, with autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), driverless vehicles and drones, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) dominating the headlines of both consumer and business publications. Yet, there haven’t been many articles exploring the outcomes of pilot projects utilizing these types of automated solutions—perhaps because companies are concerned about losing competitive advantage. Four companies, however, were willing to detail their experiences in “NextGen Technologies in Action,” an article published in the first quarter 2019 issue of MHI Solutions. Among them, automotive supplier HIROTEC AMERICA details how adopting autonomous mobile robotic technology has helped the company make significant strides toward meeting a corporate mandate to operate as a 24-hour/7-days-a-week, lights-out manufacturer.
The company provides body-in-white closures, exhaust systems, and closure manufacturing equipment to multiple global automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). When considering which areas within its current operations were ideal for lights-out operation, HIROTEC decided to apply a robotic solution within their spare parts area.
“We’ve been a supplier of large format, fixed robots to the automotive industry since the 1980s. So, when we looked to take the initial steps into piloting a mobile robot, we looked for process areas that required humans to complete menial, repetitive tasks,” explains HIROTEC’s Vice President of Business Development Gary Krus.
One of the most inefficient processes in spare parts production was HIROTEC’s black oxide process. Steps involve moving parts from bucket to bucket in a specific sequence with delays in between while the parts become oxidized. The final parts are coated in a thin corrosion-resistant surface, which must be consistent to ensure that the parts don’t rust.
Previously, operators completed this process manually. To do so, however, they had to interrupt their other assigned tasks within the machine shop to transport parts to the process line and run them through the dipping procedure. That inefficiency led Krus and his team to apply robotics, specifically the OTTO Motors’ OTTO 1500 autonomous mobile robot outfitted with an integrated Yaskawa Motoman multi-axis dual arm robot.
“By combining the mobility of the mobile platform with the dexterity of the robotic arms, it’s an ideal technology to replicate human labor,” he says. “We wanted to reallocate our existing personnel to more value-added tasks, yet we had to ensure that a robotic solution could do the job and that our employees would be comfortable working around it.”
Encouraged by the successful implementation of the OTTO robot in his own operations, Krus spread the word among his colleagues at different HIROTEC facilities worldwide. He and his colleagues shared their insights based on the experience, documenting ways to make future implementations easier and repeatable. Those guidelines have led to additional pilots of the technology in different applications, he notes.
To read the full Hirotec America case study, as well as additional coverage on Walmart, Coca-Cola and Generac Power Systems, click here.