Is a Robot Going to Take Your Job?

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“One day a robot will take your job….” sound familiar? And if it is true, is it a good thing or a bad thing?

In October of last year, the OMRON Corporation announced its LD series of autonomous intelligent vehicles (AIVs) which represent a significant step towards that elusive goal of human-machine harmony in the world of manufacturing.

Since that time customers from a wide range of industries – from automotive and electronics to foods and pharmaceuticals – have deployed the mobile robots in their facilities.

This week OMRON announced the launch of a promotional website which provides more information about these robots and the work they are able to do.

The mobile robots are transport vehicles that are equipped with proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) technology, allowing them to transport materials to a target location, calculating the optimal route and avoiding humans and other obstacles along the way.

These robots are suitable for a wide range of indoor environments, including manufacturing and logistics facilities for the automotive, electronics, food and pharmaceutical industries. Many people working in this field believe that entrusting simple, monotonous and exhausting tasks, such as carrying items from station to station, gives human workers the freedom to engage in more creative work. In addition, the AIVs work together with fixed material-handling equipment giving true flexibility in factory design.

The Mobile Robots promotional website offers information on product specifications and key technologies[1], introduce case examples of the Mobile Robots in practical use and suggest tips for how customers can install the system in their own manufacturing or storage facility.

Solution examples

  • Car-manufacturing plants: The AIVs are capable of moving up to 130 kg of cargo, the mobile robots can free human workers from the tedious heavy labor required in car manufacturing plants to move hefty car parts from subassembly areas to the lineside.
  • Semiconductor plants: The Mobile Robots are capable of navigating the busy, narrow passages commonly found in semiconductor plants, transporting wafer pods (FOUPS) between processing stages reliably and with full traceability.
  • Food-manufacturing plants: As new products are launched according to the flow of seasonal demand; food producers often face the need to adjust their manufacturing processes. The Mobile Robots gather information on their surroundings and automatically generate a map with just one run through any given environment. This enables swift and flexible adjustments of manufacturing processes and offers a meaningful alternative to inflexible conveyor belt networks.
  • Distribution warehouses: Careful sorting based on a shipping address is a necessity in distribution warehouses. A single dedicated controller unit can track the locations of up to 100 Mobile Robot units working cooperatively in a fleet to optimally manage the transport of goods, reducing unnecessary traffic and delivery errors.

OMRON envisions a future driven by automation where machines are work in harmony with humans and understand their movements and thoughts. As a part of this vision, OMRON continues to develop unique solutions combining advanced automation technology and robotics.

[1] Natural Feature Navigation technology enables Mobile Robots to automatically manoeuvre around humans and obstacles. Fleet Management technology allows the collaborative operation and optimal control of up to 100 Mobile Robot units. Easy-to-use design can enable production line changes in minutes. For details, please refer to http://www.ia.omron.com/products/family/3664/

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Kirstie Magowan

Kirstie Magowan is the managing editor of IT Chronicles. Kirstie is an experienced journalist and publisher who has been working in the IT Service Management industry since 1999. Kirstie is a regular speaker at industry conferences globally.