By 2025, the global market in packaging robotics and robotic automation in general will be worth an estimated $7.2bn. During this forecast period, market growth of 32.6% CAGR is expected. It’s fair to say that robotics and automation are here to stay.
Why is automation important in the production process?
Automatic packing machines based on the use of robots replace the repetitive and unrewarding roles traditionally performed by people. The robot assembly line is faster, more accurate and more efficient. With precise movements, they minimise damage to products and help avoid contamination.
The robot factory today is highly connected, with IoT smart systems equipped with machine learning technology powering every aspect of the production process. Simultaneously, data is generated which assists operators with understanding the factory’s performance and finding ways to optimise production.
If production needs to increase because of a spike in demand, the connected production line will know and can adjust production with minimal or no manual intervention. If excess inventory is detected, the production line will slow down accordingly. The decisions will be accurate and data-driven, so the entire operation is designed to achieve optimum efficiency.
What are the risks of automating a production process?
Robotics and automation on the production line is largely an incredibly positive move for almost every business. However, there are challenges in the way of full adoption of automation.
In the past, manufacturing was a haven for unskilled workers who could be trained on the job. With more innovation and automated systems, however, comes the issue of talent. We know that we are in a state in which engineers and other skilled personnel are ageing out of the workplace, and that there is a shortage in new talent coming up through the ranks. The manufacturing workforce of the future will require advanced tech skills, an analytical mind and good mathematical ability.
There is a substantial risk, when investing in robotics and automation, of not getting the best out of the technology without skilled personnel to run the machinery. The answer to this problem is to invest in training in-house. The robot factory means that workers no longer have to do manual tasks, which means that they can be elevated to more skilled positions, benefitting all parties, including themselves.
If we are talking about risks of automation, it’s more prudent to look at the risks of not making automation a priority. The businesses which continue to thrive in the future will be those who are able to keep pace with the competition, in terms of productivity, efficiency and quality. Many businesses still worry that the ROI on automation is too long-term, but without making that outlay now, that future ROI will not come at all.
PPMA Show Meeting Hub 2020
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Packaging Robots and their Applications
As the use of industrial robots grows, so does the range of robots available for different purposes. While some robots are being developed to perform very specific functions, others are becoming available which are more flexible and are designed to meet a range of different requirements.
Packaging robots can be adapted to complete different tasks (i.e. when packaging changes from one type to another) with a simple alteration to the algorithm which drives them. Along with robots packaging products, automated packaging systems can also handle palletising and transportation, for example. Equally, while packaging machines are a key part of the manufacturing process, industrial robots have applications at every stage of production, optimising efficiency throughout the business.