Robots at the forefront of Smarter Factories for 2018

Commentary by Lieu Yew Fatt, Managing Director, Omron Electronics Singapore

Robots at the forefront of Smarter Factories for 2018

The year ahead looks hardwired for greater innovation in the robotics industry

What a year 2017 has been, and what achievements have been made! Robots can now do surprisingly amazing feats like backflips, display affection, and my favourite, recite Shakespeare . One robot even managed to gain citizenship !

And with 1.7 million new robots estimated to be released by 2020, we’re about to see a lot more of them in our daily lives, and in places you may not expect.

Armed for work: machine arms help to replace undesirable manual work

We’re more likely to see robots lending a hand (or a mechanical arm!) when it comes to jobs that no one really wants to do. These are positions that employers find difficult to fill, because they usually consist of undesirable or repetitive manual work. These range from being downright dull work to outright dangerous work that would be risky for humans to do.

With that in mind, we’re more likely to see robots work alongside people, or with minimal supervision on industrial and manufacturing floors by the time we reach 2027.

Cloud(y) with a chance of robots for greater efficiency

But having more robots and mechanical arms to help us isn’t the only thing that is exciting about our future. We’ve now reached an inflexion point where advances in robotics technology and cloud connectivity have meant that the combination of these two innovations can naturally intersect.

Robots can now communicate seamlessly with each other, and collect data in more automated ways than were previously possible. Armed with sensors that are able to collect more data, robots can now better understand their surroundings and compute optimal routes whether that’s in a hospital, a restaurant or a warehouse.

That means they can continue to perform their work even they run into an obstacle – such as someone walking in front of their path – they’ll compute to re-route themselves around the obstacle to continue doing their job safely. Also, they can resume taking the most efficient route without any human intervention once the obstacle is cleared.

A more mature market in Singapore for the robotic revolution

When it comes to Singapore itself, I’ve been greatly encouraged by the local ecosystem. Singapore’s manufacturing output grew 25.8 percent in 2017, and there are so many initiatives showing that the Lion City has still much more roar in it. Automation will be a major part of helping Singapore’s SMEs. We’ve seen this in the IMDA’s Industry Digital Guides, which includes a vision for completely unmanned warehouse operations and automated guided vehicles, all tying back into the Smart Nation backbone.

As we look abroad at what has happened in the United States’ automotive industry, robots and automation has created as many as 261,000 new jobs. With manufacturing and an emphasis on cutting edge technology, Singapore is surely placed to enjoy similar benefits due to the fertile environment being fostered by the public and private sectors as well as academic institutions.

Conclusion

Whether it’s adding jobs, increasing efficiency, or creating new businesses that make the most of new technology, I’m sure you’ll agree that the successes of 2017 are only just the beginning. We look forward to seeing just how much of a vital role robotics will play this year, and the many years to come.

All Story

All Story