Written by Sebastian Hillis, ICS Consulting Supervisor
In today’s fast-paced manufacturing world, businesses are constantly seeking innovative solutions to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and improve the overall customer experience. With the increasing digitalization of the world, the popularity of robotics in the manufacturing industry has skyrocketed. In fact, robotic sales in North America experienced a remarkable 11% growth in 2022 compared to the previous year. It’s no surprise that robotics has garnered such attention and demand, given its ability to address critical challenges like staffing shortages. However, despite the benefits, integrating robotic solutions into existing systems remains a major struggle for many end-users.
One major pain point is the poor integration of robotics into the wider MES/SCADA/IIoT environment. Robotic installations are often automated to streamline processes like assembly, but without integrating fully into the existing MES, SCADA, or IIoT platforms, it is difficult to utilize data for advanced analytics and insight into operations. This can significantly limit the potential of robotics to improve overall business operations.
Another challenge is space and cost constraints. Smaller operators may have limited space to work with, making it difficult to incorporate a bulky robotic installation. Similarly, the perceived cost of the initial installation and ongoing maintenance and support costs can discourage customers from embracing robotic solutions, despite the rapid return on investment that robotics can provide. However, it is worth noting that cobots, or collaborative robots, require less auxiliary equipment and can be implemented in tight spaces, making them a cost-effective solution.
Moreover, some clients shy away from robotics due to a lack of internal resources, assuming, for example, that they will need a full-time robotics expert on staff. With effective integration, however, robotics can be made simple – errors can be pinpointed, corrective actions can be automated, and the robot can be made resistant to “mystery crashes”. Additionally, cobots offer simple setup and can be programmed directly by operators, making them more accessible to end-users.
RED Group not only assists in identifying opportunities for robotic implementation based on clients’ desired outcomes – we also offer fully integrated robotic skids with the ability to easily integrate directly with IIoT, MES, and SCADA platforms for a number of benefits, such as asset health monitoring, quality control and downtime tracking, and real-time process data and shop floor monitoring. Our knowledgeable staff offers robust support with extensive diagnostics, error identification, automatic homing, and other features that make robotics easy to operate and troubleshoot. By choosing RED Group, end-users can leverage the full potential of robotic solutions without worrying about integration challenges.
The use of robotics in the manufacturing industry is an integral part of the overall digital transformation journey. While industrial robotics has advanced to a point where programming the robot itself has become simpler – although we can help with this, too – future-facing organizations still need to enable the next step of greater shop floor autonomy and integration into existing platforms. The need for integrator support has shifted from the programming of the robot itself to the data collection, flexibility, and integration of the robot into the wider manufacturing environment. Employing robotics as part of a greater digital transformation strategy can increase efficiency, reduce downtime, and make the manufacturing environment safer for workers.
RED Group’s robotic integration solutions offer end-users a way to address the pain points that come with implementing robotics in their manufacturing processes. By integrating robots into the wider MES/SCADA/IIoT environment, providing cobots for applications with tight space constraints, and offering robust support and diagnostics, RED Group empowers organizations to take the next step in their digital transformation journey. Contact us today to learn more about our solutions and how we can support your organization.
Sebastian Hillis, ICS Supervisor of RED Group’s Houston office, has extensive experience in integrating industrial robotics for applications ranging from simple pick-and-place to vision-guided, coordinated assembly.