ABB: Prime US robotics developments

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With annual income within the U.S. robotics market anticipated to develop at 5.62% (CAGR), leading to a market quantity of over $9 billion by 2027, John Bubnikovich, ABB US Robotics Division President, is making a number of predictions on key developments in robotics automation within the US for 2023 and past.  

”The affect of U.S. labor shortages is more and more being felt by many companies as they battle to maintain tempo with buyer calls for, even with the potential for some softening within the US financial system within the short-term,” stated Bubnikovich. “This, mixed with international political uncertainty, fragile provide chains and rising materials prices, along with the rising pattern of reshoring and nearshoring of operations, means extra firms are adopting robotic automation to maximise flexibility, construct resilience and adapt extra sustainable manufacturing processes.”

Pattern 1 – Demand for robots will improve in response to long-term labor shortages and a surge in re- and nearshoring

The affect of labor shortages is clearly felt throughout a variety of industries and can proceed effectively past 2023 because the impact of ageing populations and a reluctance to tackle low-paid, uninteresting, soiled and harmful jobs will increase. The Congressional Funds Workplace just lately forecast that the dimensions of the U.S. labor power will develop by simply 0.2% yearly from 2024 to 2031, and by 2030, it’s predicted that greater than 2.1 million US manufacturing jobs will likely be unfilled, in response to a research by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute. This may hamper financial development and current firms with the necessity to discover new methods to plug gaps in workforces.

Demand for robots will likely be significantly robust in nations the place firms are planning to re- or near-shore their operations to assist enhance their provide chain stability within the face of worldwide uncertainty. In a survey of 1,610 firms carried out by ABB Robotics in 2022, 70% of US companies stated they’re planning to re- or near-shore their operations, with 62% indicating they’d be investing in robotic automation within the subsequent three years. 

“Whereas a lot of the mainstream consideration has centered on the affect of automation taking jobs, robots will more and more carry out the bodily annoying duties that persons are reluctant to carry out, serving to to reasonable industrial and industrial labor shortages,” stated Bubnikovich. “The persevering with developments in ease of use and versatile efficiency of robots, together with the event of collaborative fashions with bigger payloads equivalent to ABB’s GoFa and SWIFTI cobots, imply firms can handle expertise gaps and make higher use of their current workforces. 

“We may also see robots taking over duties in new sectors equivalent to meals processing and healthcare. For instance, ABB robots are in operation at a White Fort frozen hamburger plant in Louisville, Kentucky, the place a very automated packaging system options three various kinds of robots dealing with three totally different features.  And, on the College of Texas Medical Department (UTMB) in Houston, Texas, ABB robots are revolutionizing antibody analysis by automating the testing course of, growing the variety of assessments completed per day from 15 to 1000. We’ll see robots taking over extra roles in comparable settings going ahead as labor shortages proceed to affect many companies,” stated Bubnikovich.   

Pattern 2 – AI and autonomous know-how will make robots simpler to make use of, combine and entry – opening up further alternatives in new industries 

The latest growth of ABB’s Visible Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (Visible SLAM) know-how will improve the productiveness, flexibility and velocity of ABB’s vary of Autonomous Cellular Robots (AMRs). Utilizing AI-enabled 3D imaginative and prescient to carry out location and mapping features, Visible SLAM allows AMRs to make clever navigation choices primarily based on their environment. Options like these allow producers to maneuver away from conventional manufacturing traces in the direction of built-in scalable, modular manufacturing cells whereas optimizing the supply of elements throughout services. 

Ongoing developments in synthetic intelligence are powering autonomous greedy and positioning, which is able to increase the vary of duties robots can carry out. This higher use of AI in robotics helps with duties like selecting non-uniform objects, which is on distinguished show at a Burrtec Waste Industries materials restoration facility in Riverside, California. Right here, vision- and AI-enabled ABB delta robots scan supplies on a waste stream conveyor, selecting quite a lot of contaminants from the road that the robotic has discovered should not capable of be recycled.  

On the identical time, continued simplification of the software program and controllers used to program robots will additional cut back boundaries to adoption by eradicating the necessity for specialist experience.

“Over the previous few years, the capabilities of Synthetic Intelligence within the robotics realm have improved considerably,” stated Bubnikovich. “Because the know-how continues to mature and develop into much less complicated, enabling ease-of-use and a number of functions, robotics will penetrate segments past conventional manufacturing and distribution, equivalent to electronics, healthcare, e-commerce, prescribed drugs and meals service.”

Pattern 3 – Extra specialist partnerships between trade and educators will help a brand new period of automation

With extra firms utilizing robots, there’s a rising want for employees to study new expertise that can allow them to thrive in an automatic setting. Reaching this may require a cooperative, multi-generational strategy, from colleges, faculties, and universities by way of to SMEs and supporting associations to supply coaching.  

“Companies sooner or later will want staff with expertise in making use of automation to carry out quite a lot of processes,” stated Bubnikovich. “As robots develop into extra prevalent in factories, warehouses and different environments, there will likely be a rise in partnerships between robotic OEMs, system integrators, producers, and educators to supply individuals with the required expertise for an automatic future. There are already greater than 150 examples of ABB partnerships with educators in the USA, the place our robots, RobotStudio simulation and programming software program, and Augmented Actuality and Digital Actuality instruments are used to show college students of all ages the abilities wanted to program and use robotic automation.” 

The longer term

“Disruption and uncertainty are driving new enterprise fashions, compelling firms to suppose otherwise about the way in which they function. Scalable, versatile and able to dealing with an increasing vary of duties, robots have gotten the brand new paradigm in making companies extra resilient in response to those exterior forces,” stated Bubnikovich. 

“As this all unfolds, the profitable implementation of robotic automation would require a layer of certified human engagement to attain the very best outcomes. As new applied sciences proceed to make robots simpler to make use of and deploy, we see 2023 as a yr of alternative that can allow firms and their workforces to achieve new ranges of productiveness, effectivity and adaptability.” 

ABB’s funding to help the way forward for robotics

ABB is supporting the anticipated robotics development in the USA by investing over $22 million and creating extremely expert jobs in manufacturing, innovation and distribution operations.

Robotics-specific funding tasks underway throughout the US embrace:

  • Auburn Hills, Michigan: An growth of its North American robotics headquarters and manufacturing facility as extra prospects flip to automation to construct resilience whereas bettering effectivity and adaptability as a part of the close to and reshoring of manufacturing. The $20 million funding will create 72 jobs and be accomplished by the tip of 2023.
  • Atlanta, Georgia: Opening of a packaging and logistics facility for end-to-end robotic automation options in warehouse and distribution, retail, and logistics industries. This $2 million funding will open in 2023 and create roughly 15 jobs.
  • Houston, Texas: continued funding into ABB Robotics’ healthcare & life sciences hub on the Texas Medical Middle in Houston. The middle focuses on growing non-surgical medical Robotics methods which can be used throughout the US and globally in collaboration with medical workers, scientists and engineers at a devoted facility on the Texas Medical Middle’s innovation campus.

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