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When Robots Don’t Rise Up

What happens when the robots don’t rise up? There are those who fear robots will displace humans, but have you taken a moment to consider when robots are just not up to the task at all—simply, they are not the right fit. What about when robots require more attention and care than hiring a human to do the job? One new survey looks into this conundrum that many manufacturers face with legacy systems.

The Challenge

This research from Visual Components suggests more than half of manufacturers in the U.K. say time-consuming manual programming is required for robots to complete welding, cutting, painting, or other tasks on the factory floor.

What’s more, 35% of manufacturers say this process takes between a week and a month, with robots unable to complete automated tasks during this time. Roughly 73% of U.S. manufacturers and almost all French companies also say the same.

This is costing many companies both time and money. In fact, more than a third of respondents say the typical cost associated with downtime due to unreliable legacy equipment is between $12,701 and $31,750. As you can imagine, since it takes so long to get them up and running, usage rates are very poor, which is delaying opportunities to bring products into production quicker.

Another challenge here is 26% of companies have three or more different robot brands on the factory floor, which complicates matters. Only 6% have had cobots in place for a prolonged period of time, showing how time-consuming programming has hindered wider deployment.

The Solution

To be clear, robots are very valuable technologies that have the potential to speed up production times, bringing products to market faster than ever before. But the legacy systems of yesteryear just aren’t cutting it—literally.

Also, the need for such technologies is great too, as businesses expect more than a fifth of their workforce to leave the business in the next five years. The skills shortage has made it such that we need to upskill current employees and outsource the more manual tasks to the robots.

What is needed is Industry 4.0—and even Industry 5.0—to help bring these manufacturing companies into a more digital era of creating. With wider implementation of OLP (offline programming), workers can implement automated programming to robots without that long disruption time to production. This can improve safety, while also saving time and costs for manufacturers.

Certainly, there will always be challenges with any technology implementation, but moving toward Industry 5.0 and the next era of manufacturing will help bring our businesses to the next level, helping to automate the factories of yesterday, today.

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