Line speeds, flexibility key factors for robots
Various robotic concepts and designs have been developed and applied in many industries for almost a century. Even with the robotics longevity, it still is important to understand what is meant by “robots” or “robotics” during discussions assessing current and future applications. Using the best dictionary definition, robotics is “a mechanism guided by automatic controls.” This description is rather general; however, as the creators probably intended, there was need to have a universal definition for these newly developed automatically controlled machines that replicated a robot (a mechanical man).
Where robotic concepts originated has been claimed, debated and analyzed; however, the significant question is why the ideas were born, developed into concepts and tested in applications. From an operations perspective, including studies, evaluations and design criteria, the universal robotics intent had three focuses: to replace manual task effort, to reduce operating time and to increase output.
To prioritize the robotic intent, many original studies and research focused on large-component assembly operations requiring labor intensive and time consuming tasks; therefore, the automotive industry became one of the primary targets for labor/time reduction and increased productivity. Originally, robotic applications were in four or five countries worldwide with more than 60 percent in the automobile, automotive parts and aircraft industries. From industry resources, future projections indicate there will be approximately 2 million robotic type applications in multiple industries on a global basis by 2020.
Amidst this controlled mechanism era, one might ask: how has the beverage industry currently aligned itself with the robotic evolution and what are the future prospects?
First, beverage production and distribution facilities have been in a labor/time conservation mode for more than 50 years. During this time, operating conditions have changed to the extent that the criteria for the consideration and application of automated type production capabilities had to be updated. Because most beverage facilities often are confronted with similar physical items handled during processing, production, warehousing and pre-distribution operations, robotic machine applications began to get more attention from producers and manufacturers.
By John Peter Koss
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