The past few years have seen many organizations implement tech-driven changes at a rapid pace. As society becomes more digital, embracing technology and effectively managing new processes is key to the success of almost every business.
With rapid workplace transformation evident across industries, whether that’s moving to hybrid working or adopting new technologies, what can we expect from 2023? Anders Beck, Vice President of Strategy and Innovation at Universal Robots, discusses five predictions for the coming year.
Anders Beck, Vice President of Strategy and Innovation at Universal Robots
1. Turnkey solutions will make automation more accessible than ever before
In recent years we have witnessed the development of many different types of sophisticated technologies. Advances in robotics, machine learning and other technologies have increased the pace of this change tenfold. While these promise to change or revolutionize the business world, all technology companies suffer from the same problem – they can’t be good at everything.
In the world of robotics, this is no different. Creating a robotic system requires hardware development, software development, application development, sensors, and interfaces to name a few. That’s why 2023 will be the year of turnkey solutions. Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) - companies creating new applications and products around existing technologies - will lie at the heart of this. They are able to drive innovation by combining technologies to deliver complete solutions for the most common applications, such as welding and palletizing. The result? Automation will become more sophisticated yet more straightforward to use than ever before.
Enabled Robotics, an OEM based in Denmark, is a great example of how this works. Since 2016 the company has been working to combine two types of cutting-edge technology by mounting collaborative robot arms (cobots) onto autonomous mobile robots (AMRs). This hybrid technology is now operating in industry, warehouse management and production and bringing robotics to service applications and hospital intralogistics.
Ultimately, these out-of-the-box solutions make it easier for companies to integrate crucial technologies and there is no limit to the imaginative ways companies will find to bring robots alongside humans in the world of work.
2. Manufacturers will turn towards modular production
Traditional industrial robots remain important in some parts of manufacturing, but we are seeing a trend towards deploying more flexible models of production. This is largely down to the fact that traditional industrial robots are typically large and fixed and entail complex deployment.
In contrast, cobots can perform a similar range of activities to traditional industrial robots but are smaller, lighter and much easier to deploy. They are designed to work alongside humans so pose less risk to safety and are better suited to environments that require flexibility and adaptability. On top of this, they are most cost-effective for businesses looking to deploy automation – a key consideration as we move into 2023.
The cobot industry is projected to grow to USD 2.2 billion by 2026 (The Collaborative Robot Market 2022 Report, Interact Analysis). As cobots continue to change the way work is done in applications such as packing, palletizing, welding and assembly, in 2023 we will see even larger companies turning to lightweight cobots to increase modularity in their production. Robot weight and versatility will be key specifications for those looking for new automation solutions and we will see more reconfigurable robotic work cells than ever before.