Not too long ago, robots belonged solely to the silver screen and had almost no role in our society. However, things have changed drastically over the past few years. Today, robots handle numerous tasks that were previously performed by humans – like assembling things (cars, appliances, gadgets), carrying out surgeries, etc.
Some would say this is a bad thing, as bots are replacing humans and taking away jobs. In actuality, it's a case of 'where one door closes, another opens'. This is because robots still need to be built, programmed and controlled – and this requires people. More specifically, people with knowledge about robotics and industrial automation.
What is robotics and industrial automation?
Robotics & industrial automation refers to the use of control systems, computers and information technology in handling various processes and machinery in an industry. The ultimate aim is to replace manual labor and increase efficiency, speed, and overall performance.
What are the courses available under robotics and industrial automation? Courses under robotics & industrial automation usually include part-time/full-time graduate programs, technical degrees or diplomas in manufacturing engineering technology, mechanical engineering technology, and advanced manufacturing process technology. More advanced courses could also be taken on the following specializations:
• Artificial Intelligence
• Computer-aided Manufacturing
• Computer integrated Manufacturing Systems
• Robot motion Planning
• Robot manipulators
Does robotics & industrial automation have good career prospects?
Career prospects in robotics and industrial automation are booming. According to the International Data Corporation, robotics-related services are pegged to hit $135.4 billion in 2019 in terms of worldwide spending. This is a huge amount and students who study this branch of engineering are sure to get well-paying jobs!
What are the career opportunities?
There is an abundance of career opportunities in India and overseas. Your work options will depend on your interest, area of specialization, skill sets and other factors. However, in general, the creation of automated systems, robotics maintenance, intelligent automation, machine learning, and artificial learning are the main areas of employment for robotics and industrial automation students.
The manufacturing sector is one of the main domains for robotics & automation students. Almost every assembly line, right from automobiles to FMCGs, depends on robots to get things done. Healthcare is another destination for robotics students as medical procedures now bank on the precision & steadiness of robots.
Robotics & automation students are also breaking into the space research domain. Organizations such as ISRO, NASA & other space agencies are hiring bright young minds to work on the robotic elements, chips and various automated system of their space crafts.
Some of the most common job descriptions for robotics & industrial automation students include:
• Engineering Technician
• Robotics Technician
• Automation Technician
• Instrumentation Technician
• Maintenance Technician
• Electro-Mechanical Technician
• Manufacturing Engineering Technologist
• Manufacturing Production Technician
There is immense scope in robotics & industrial automation. Therefore, if you are thinking about doing a course in this field, you are indeed thinking along the right lines. There are numerous colleges & universities in India and abroad that you can choose from that will give you the knowledge you need to create a future for yourself in this domain. Virtualinfocom has entered into this field. They are creating robots that can solve your problem as well as diagnose it. We will Give automation on industry and we've robots to solve industry issues. They will also help address "moonshot" societal challenges in areas from health to climate change.
At the same time, these technologies will transform the nature of work and the workplace itself. Machines will be able to carry out more of the tasks done by humans, complement the work that humans do, and even perform some tasks that go beyond what humans can do. As a result, some occupations will decline, others will grow, and many more will change.
While we believe there will be enough work to go around (barring extreme scenarios), society will need to grapple with significant workforce transitions and dislocation. Workers will need to acquire new skills and adapt to the increasingly capable machines alongside them in the workplace. They may have to move from declining occupations to growing and, in some cases, new occupations. AI and automation still face challenges. The limitations are partly technical, such as the need for massive training data and difficulties "generalizing" algorithms across use cases. Recent innovations are just starting to address these issues. Other challenges are in the use of AI techniques. For example, explaining decisions made by machine learning algorithms is technically challenging, which particularly matters for use cases involving financial lending or legal applications. Potential bias in the training data and algorithms, as well as data privacy, malicious use, and security are all issues that must be addressed.
A different sort of challenge concerns the ability of organizations to adopt these technologies, where people, data availability, technology, and process readiness often make it difficult. Adoption is already uneven across sectors and countries. The finance, automotive, and telecommunications sectors lead AI adoption.
Virtualinfocom's 360° service range extends from exhaustive advance testing to robot maintenance and servicing. We develop proprietary control software and build component-specific tools and work holding systems. The field of industrial robotics may be more practically defined as the study, design and use of robot systems for manufacturing (a top-level definition relying on the prior definition of robot).
Typical applications of industrial robots include welding, painting, ironing, assembly, pick and place, palletizing, product inspection, and testing, all accomplished with high endurance, speed, and precision.
The most commonly used robot configurations for industrial automation, include articulated robots, SCARA robots and gantry robots.
In the context of general robotics, most types of industrial robots would fall into the category of robot arms. Because they can be programmed to perform dangerous, dirty and/or repetitive tasks with consistent precision and accuracy, industrial robots are increasingly used in a variety of industries and applications. They come in a wide range of models with the reach distance, payload capacity and the number of axes of travel (up to six) of their jointed arm being the most common distinguishing characteristics.
In both production and handling applications, a robot utilizes an end effector or end of arm tooling (EOAT) attachment to hold and manipulate either the tool performing the process, or the piece upon which a process is being performed.
The robot's actions are directed by a combination of programming software and controls. Their automated functionality allows them to operate around the clock and on weekends—as well as with hazardous materials and in challenging environments—freeing personnel to perform other tasks. Robotic technology also increases productivity and profitability while eliminating labor-intensive activities that might cause physical strain or potential injury to workers.
What Are Industrial Robots?
Industrial robots are used in a variety of applications. These include:
Handling: Capable of manipulating products as diverse as car doors to eggs, industrial robots are fast and powerful as well as dexterous and sensitive. Applications include pick and place from conveyor line to packaging, and machine tending, where raw materials are fed by the robot into processing equipment such as with injection molding machines, CNC mills and lathes and presses.
Palletizing: Industrial robots load corrugated cartons or other packaged items onto a pallet in a defined pattern. Robotic palletizers rely on a fixed position or overhead gantry robot with special tooling that interfaces with the individual load components, building simple to complex layer patterns on top of a pallet that maximize the load's stability during transport. There are three primary types of palletizing: inline or layer forming, depalletizing or unloading, and mixed case.
Cutting: Due to their dangerous nature, laser, plasma and water jet cutters are frequently used with robots. Hundreds of different cutting paths can be programmed into the robot, which produces precise accuracy and path following with greater flexibility than most dedicated cutting machines.
Finishing: Multi-axis robots can grind, trim, fettle, polish and clean almost any part made in any material for a consistent quality finish.
Sealing and gluing: To apply sealant or glue, a robot follows a path accurately with good control over speed while maintaining a consistent bead of the adhesive substrate. Robots are frequently used for sealing applications in the car industry to seal in windows, as well as in packaging processes for automated sealing of corrugated cases of product.
Spraying: Due to the volatile and hazardous nature of solvent-based paints and coatings, robots are used in spray applications to minimize human contact. Paint robots typically have thin arms because they don't carry much weight, but need maximum access and movement fluidity to mimic a human's application technique.
Welding: Used for both seam (MIG, TIG, arc and laser) and spot welding, robots produce precise welds, as well as control parameters such as power, wire feed and gas flow.
How Are Robots Used?
Robots are used in a variety of ways throughout manufacturing and distribution.
Load building: Assembling a pallet load of products at the end of a production line
Manufacturing: Performing processing and assembly functions to work-in-process
Quality control: Testing and inspection procedures deploy robots for repetitive or dangerous work
Transportation: Loading pallets prior to shipping
Warehousing: Removing received products from pallets and routing them to storage locations within a facility
What Are the Benefits?
Industrial robots provide a variety of benefits:
Accuracy – Robotic palletizers are software-directed for proper load placement
Flexibility – Robotic systems can be re-purposed for other uses; end effectors can be switched out to handle different load types
Lower labor costs – Automated pallet building reduces worker strain and frees operators for other tasksv
Quiet operation – Servo-based, robotic palletizers generate low noise levels
Reduced product damage – Gentle handling prevents package and product damage
Speed – The systems increase rate productivity up to 50%
Where Are Robots Used?
Industrial robots are used in many industries, including:
Quality control and inspection
Warehousing and distribution
Industrial robots can be classified according to mechanical structure:
Cartesian robot: robot whose arm has three prismatic joints and whose axes are correlated with a cartesian coordinate system
SCARA robot: a robot, which has two parallel rotary joints to provide compliance in a plane
Articulated robot: a robot whose arm has at least three rotary joints
Parallel/Delta robot: a robot whose arms have concurrent prismatic or rotary joints
Cylindrical robot: a robot whose axes form a cylindrical coordinate system.
Collaborative industrial robots are designed to perform tasks in collaboration with workers in industrial sectors. The International Federation of Robotics defines two types of robot designed for collaborative use. One group covers robots designed for collaborative use that comply with the International Organization for Standards norm 10218-1 which specifies requirements and guidelines for the inherent safe design, protective measures and information for use of industrial robots. The other group covers robots designed for collaborative use that do not satisfy the requirements of ISO 10218-1. This does not imply that these robots are unsafe. They may follow different safety standards, for example national or in-house standards.
There is considerable variance in the types of collaborative robots meeting the above specifications, and the level of contact between robot and worker in collaborative applications. At one end of the technical spectrum are traditional industrial robots operating in a separate workspace that workers can enter periodically without having to shut off power to the robot and secure the production cell beforehand – a time-intensive procedure that can cost thousands of dollars per minute of machine downtime. The robot's workspace can be fitted with sensors that detect human motion and ensure the robot works at very slow speeds or stops when a worker is within the designated workspace. At the other end of the spectrum are industrial robots designed specifically to work alongside humans in a shared workspace. Often referred to as 'cobots', these robots are designed with a variety of technical features that ensure they do not cause harm when a worker comes into direct contact, either deliberately or by accident. These features include lightweight materials, rounded contours, padding, 'skins' (padding with embedded sensors) and sensors at the robot base or joints that measure and control force and speed and ensure these do not exceed defined thresholds if contact occurs. The market for collaborative robots is still in its infancy. End-users and systems integrators are still gaining experience on what works and doesn't in the design and implementation of collaborative applications. Technology developments in sensors and grippers hold promise for expanding the range of actions that the robot end-effector can perform. Programming interfaces will continue to become more intuitive, not just for cobots, but also for traditional industrial robots.
In 2019, about 4.8% (18,000 out of more than 373,000) industrial robots installed, were cobots, an increase of 11% over 2018.
Robots and AI
Artificial intelligence in robots gives companies new opportunities to increase productivity, make work safer, and save people valuable time. Substantial research is being devoted to using AI to expand robot functionality. Commercially available applications include the use of AI to:
Enable robots to sense and respond to their environment: This vastly increases the range of functions robots can perform. Optimise robot and process performance, saving companies money. Enable robots to function as mobile, interactive information systems in numerous settings from public spaces to hospitals to retail outlets, saving individuals time. So this will be a huge technological advancement if such robotics can be brought to India which can make our lives easier and most importantly bring India on a similar pedestal with the advanced world and Virtualinfocom is working towards it.