For decades robots have been an integral part of industrial automation. Despite high purchase costs and the know-how the companies need, a huge robotics industry has developed and become established. For decades robots have assumed many tasks in industry: gluing, sealing, picking and placing, packaging, stacking, palletising, milling, welding, sawing and much more.
Limitless options of automation
In the developers’ heads the following applies: almost everything can be automated. Continuously improved sensors make protective fences unnecessary and open programming interfaces guarantee increasing flexibility. The customer is enabled to optimise the robot’s software autonomously and to guarantee that he can fully meet the requirements placed on him. Programming is simplified by apps and as intuitive as the handling of a smart phone. Similar to an app store, solutions for different automation processes can be selected and configured. Programming know-how is no longer required.
Ready for the consumer market
However, the mechanical helpers are not only used in industry but are more and more frequent in the everyday life of the end users. Increasing computer performance and reduced production costs continue to push the development of new solutions and make robotics suitable for the consumer market. In five to ten years, humanoid robots, the so-called “social robots”, self-driving cars and special mobile applications, such as drones, will be present on the market. In a study of the Yole Développement group of 2017 a high growth rate is forecast for the robotics market, especially for the prosumer market and the market for Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV). The forecast for the first market is an average annual growth rate of approx. 47 % until 2021; 10 % for the AGV market.
Robotics “at your fingertips”
Already today, robots are used as autonomous helpers outside the industry. The company Bossa Nova Robotics, for example, manufactures robots which are used in supermarkets. Completely autonomously they find their way through the aisles of goods and scan shelves for empty spaces. If they find such spaces, a message is sent to the warehouse so that an employee can refill the shelf. But that’s not all. During their tours, the robots collect data which can for example help to optimise the sorting of goods in the shop. In the warehouses of a big online wholesaler worldwide, approx. 80,000 specially made robots ensure that the goods are transported from the shelves to the customers. The robots move below the shelves, lift them and bring them to the employees, who fill the packages. This is similar in the new logistics centre of the ifm group of companies: Here shuttles move on tracks in a multi-level cube and transport the ordered goods to the employees. The storage locations in the cube are variable and depend on the quantity of the goods ordered: Items which are ordered frequently are stored at locations which are easier to access. Thus, the warehouse is optimised continuously in a flexible way.
The current development of the robot market would be unimaginable without the continuously progressing 3D sensor and camera technology. This is where ifm enters the scene. With their O3D sensor and camera technology, the innovative medium-sized group of companies provides efficient solutions allowing the implementation of new applications and innovations.
Threedimensional detection and analysis with the O3D sensor by ifm. Do you want to learn more about the O3D?
ifm is a manufacturer of sensors, communication and control systems. After many years of intensive cooperation with our customers we have established ourselves in the market as service-oriented sensor specialists and today we are represented by more than 6,700 employees in over 70 countries worldwide.