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COMMENTARY by Technical Editor Jonathan Newell ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERS THE SOCIETY OF


BOOM TIME FOR ROBOTICS


I


ndustry 4.0 and the growth in adoption of smart factory technology will lead to an increase in the global industrial robot population of more than 1.7 million, according to the World Robotics Report issued by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).


According to the IFR, an important driver for this development is the


response to faster business cycles and the requirement to produce manufacturing products with greater flexibility tailored to customer demand in all sectors. In this respect, a new generation of industrial robots will pave the way for ever more flexible automation. However, geographically, increased robotic adoption varies considerably,


with China predicted to be the largest purchaser, contributing to a 21 per cent increase in advanced automation products in Asia and Australia. This compares to 16 per cent in the Americas and just 8 per cent in Europe. In Europe, as elsewhere, digital manufacturing is setting the robotics


adoption agenda to some extent, with IFR president Joe Gemma saying that connectivity of robots will play a key role in digital manufacturing. Industry 4.0 will play an increasingly important role in global


manufacturing. According to the IFR, as obstacles like system complexities and data incompatibility are overcome, manufacturers will integrate robots into factory-wide networks of machines and systems. In this respect, robot manufacturers are already developing and


commercialising new service models based on real-time data collected by robot mounted sensors. This will contribute to rapid growth for “cloud robotics” in which data from one robot is compared with data from other robots. The cloud network allows connected robots to perform the same activities. This will be used to optimise such parameters as speed, angle or force. Ultimately, big data in manufacturing could redefine industry boundaries between equipment makers and manufacturers. The IFR is also predicting an expansion in the uptake of robotics by


smaller companies as the concept of Industry 4.0 filters down the supply chain to enable more efficient operations from small component manufacturers through to system integrators. To service this need, some robotmanufacturers are considering leasing





play an increasingly important role in manufacturing





models, where simplification is a key aspect affecting adoption. The ongoing need for robots that are easier to use and to programand the increasing need for evermore flexible automation initiated the development of smarter businessmodels in the robotics industry. Here, the IFR believes products that are uncomplicated to use will enable the deployment of robots inmany industries to sustain efficient and flexiblemanufacturing.


Industry 4.0 will President and Chairman of Council


Peter Vincent, PSEE, BA, IEng, MIET, Hon.FSEE Immediate Past President


GrahamCouser, PPSEE, CEng, CEnv, Hon.FSEE Past Presidents


Prof Steve Burnage PPSEE, CEng, CEnv, FIMechE Hon.FSEE


Prof Mervyn L. de Calcina-Goff, StJ, PPSEE ASIS CEnv, FRSA, Hon.FSEE


Vice Presidents


Stephen Tweed, CEng, CEnv, FSEE James Regan, CEnv, FSEE


Hon.Treasurer


Colin Weetch, IEng, FSEE Chief Executive


Prof Raymond P. Clark, OBE, DSc, CEng, CEnv, Hon.FSEE, Hon.FSE


Secretariat


Diana Kharchenko 020 7630 2132


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© Society of Environmental Engineers 2017 ISSN 0954-5824


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October 2017 /// Environmental Engineering /// 3


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