The Growth Of Robotics In A Post-COVID Era
Today, we are witnessing a bigger proliferation of robotics in every industry- healthcare, pharmaceutical, automobile, and more. In a post-COVID era, robotics alongside artificial intelligence is paving the way for ‘contact-less’ solutions that can help solve everyday problems. Robots have been used in hospitals and healthcare centres for cleaning/disinfecting premises, delivering food, medicines, and other supplies to infected patients. Robots are being used for a wide array of activities; to delight customers in the service industry, for logistics, in the manufacturing industry, and software robots for the finance industry. Manufacturers are utilising robots to bring down production costs, increase efficiency, and enhance competitiveness in the marketplace. AI-infused technologies are helping organisations to deal with COVID disruption, maintain social distancing imperatives, and provide growth opportunities. Traditionally, there has been a long-standing fear that automation and robotics will replace humans and their jobs but what it has been found is that robotics is helping drive digital transformation by automating tasks, augmenting jobs and creating new opportunities.
Robots have been extensively used in manufacturing industries for decades, primarily because of its ability to increase productivity with little to no errors. Robots run on databases that tell it to perform a specific task within a stipulated time frame. Post-COVID-19, manufacturers are expected to increase in-house manufacturing through automation rather than outsourcing production to other countries to mitigate global supply chain risks in the future. The market demand for advanced robotics in the manufacturing industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 46% and reach $3.7 billion by 2021. The global industrial robotics market size, including the prices of peripherals, software, and system engineering, is expected to grow from $44.6 billion in 2020 to $73 billion by 2025.
The robotics technology
Although robotic technology is relatively young, it’s helping humans to perform difficult tasks such as diving the deepest parts of the oceans and exploring outer space to more menial tasks such as cleaning floors and sanitising a space. The primary classification of robots is industrial robots, professional services robots, and software robots. Industrial robots like cartesian, SCARA, cylindrical, articulated etc are mainly used in the manufacturing sector. Industrial robots are incredibly efficient in factory assembly lines, replacing humans to do repetitive tasks. Professional services robots are semi or fully automated robots that are deployed in retail, hospitality, healthcare, or warehouse work environments. These robots are used to automate non-factory tasks profitability. With the help of vision software, professional service robots are able to navigate a variable environment without human intervention. Some customer service and humanoid robots are designed to interact with customers thanks to complex ML programming. Tech companies are constantly trying to improve the quality and fluidity of these interactive robots with the advancement in innovative technologies like embedded vision, AI, and visual simultaneous localization and mapping (VSLAM). Software robots, or more commonly known as bots or RPAs (Robotic Process Automation), are individual devices that run the automation solution. These bots can emulate human actions within a digital environment to automate business processes. They are used in functions such as HR, finance, procurement etc. RPA bots allow organisations to automate processes at a fraction of the cost because it’s a non-intrusive technology that can easily be augmented into the existing infrastructure without disruption to rudimentary systems.
Industries that are rapidly integrating robotics
The pandemic has pushed the scope of telemedicine and the use of robotics in healthcare. From automated sanitisers to automated guided vehicles (AGV), robots are acting as an intermediary between doctors and patients. They are being programmed to carry out diagnostic and treatment processes. Robotic instruments are also being used for practices such as surgery, rehabilitation, and therapy. Robotic devices like exoskeletons have the ability to aid patients with limited mobility and help their rehabilitation.
AMP robots are used to sift through massive amounts of recyclable materials and weed out thrash from it. Post-COVID there has been a significant increase in demand for robots to automate the recycling process and limit transmission from infected items to workers.
The retail industry is using automatic floor cleaning robots to disinfect stores and surfaces as well as integrate other robots to process deliveries. Also, large warehouses use navigational robots to categories and sort parcels as well as keep track of inventory. Companies like Amazon use robots to keep up with its scale of operations and same-day delivery business model.
Robotic technology is enhancing productivity in the agriculture sector while lowering operational costs. Farming practices like pruning, thinning, mowing, spraying, and weed removal is increasingly being automated to reduce manual labour. Tractors and harvesters with self-guided GPS can help map the field without human intervention. Sensor technology is also being used for pest management as well as identification and removal of rotten goods.
Defence and public safety
Robotic technology is revolutionising the defence industry and improving public safety. Drones are a prime example of robots being used by militaries across the world. Remote controlled and unmanned drones are being used to gather real-time information and monitor potentially dangerous situations. Robots are increasingly utilised for surveillance by the defence agencies.
Robots are shaping our future where all repetitive tasks are automated and humans are free to do more important tasks. Robots will eliminate labour which is redundant, taxing, potentially dangerous, and non-valued to create more efficient business functions. At Alkye, we help clients to augment technology in their business models such that it improves their productivity, profit margins, and competitiveness.