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ROBOTICS


A 3D camera checks the samples are positioned correctly g


we can check the colour of the lid of the sample, according to type,’ Madsen explained, ‘and then sort them out into two different racks for further analysis.’ In the past, the staff opened


these boxes manually and pulled out the samples and closed the boxes again. ‘Tis is not a difficult task,’ Madsen said, ‘but it’s a very hard task on your wrists and on your hands, and caused a lot of injuries.’


Te gift of time Today, the university hospital


benefits from the robot- based system with quality control checks, while also demonstrating how hospital workflows can be greatly simplified by automation. Specialist staff now have more time for patients – which is particularly advantageous in times of intensive stress or staff shortages, such as many hospitals are currently experiencing. ‘Te idea actually came


from this hospital,’ said Madsen. ‘It has a department for innovation and they had a


The robots sort samples and place them in a buffer


competition where they pulled out some good ideas!’ Te next step was finding the relevant companies to come and help develop the ideas. Te cell system is modular, so


there is a module for handling the boxes, one for handling the racks, one for opening the boxes, and one for sorting the samples. ‘Tis is possible,’ said Madsen, ‘because we have the Kuka robots which we can fit directly on the modules, and the controller can be fitted within the cabinets. Tis means we can easily configure


it to different customer requirements.’ Te new system was initially


tested in March 2019 and went into full operation in August. Te lab technicians now have more time to analyse the blood samples, and, what’s more, the automated sorting and continuous temperature control in the transport box have reduced potential sources of error. ‘We are confident that this product can be used for a lot of hospitals around the world,’ concluded Madsen. ‘Tis could really make an impact.’ O


Robot firm CEOs discuss automation and Covid-19 Te Danish manufacturer


T


he Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of robotics


and automation in many areas of manufacturing and society, according to panellists taking part in a webinar in April run by A3, the Association for Advancing Automation. Te heads of Fanuc America,


Schunk, Fetch Robotics and Universal Robots felt that, while the global health emergency is going to have a negative impact on their businesses in the short term, there are markets that are running at maximum capacity at the moment, and other areas are beginning to recognise the advantages of automation. ‘Tere are a number of industries, like the pharmaceutical industry or the food and beverage industry – those places are running


full-tilt, as fast as they can, making sure that all hands are on deck,’ said Mike Cicco, CEO of Fanuc America, but added that automotive production is getting hit hard at the moment. Many automobile


manufacturers have closed factories to comply with social distancing and lockdown measures in different countries. Melonee Wise, CEO and


founder of Fetch Robotics, said that there is a huge amount of interest in fitting mobile robots with disinfection capabilities, such as UV lamps or chemical disinfection. At the time of the webcast


in early April, Fetch Robotics was fielding 10 or 20 leads a day, Wise said, on whether the firm’s robots would be able to disinfect a production facility autonomously before staff enter.


22 IMAGING AND MACHINE VISION EUROPE JUNE/JULY 2020


Blue Ocean Robotics has reportedly sold more than 2,000 UVD robots to Chinese hospitals since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Te UVD robots are mobile units fitted with UV-C lights that move around an empty room to disinfect it before staff enter. Global sales of medical robots


increased by 50 per cent to 5,100 units in 2018, according to statistics from the International Federation of Robotics, and


‘Tere is a huge demand to develop new medical and decontamination robots’


this trend will only continue because of the pandemic. Wise added that, at the moment, there is huge demand to develop new medical and decontamination robots, aided by a relaxation in regulations to a certain extent – the need is so great that it’s a case of getting disinfection robots out in the field, even if they don’t have all the certifications they might have needed in the past. ‘Right now, there’s this huge


opportunity and opening for a lot of these devices in medical scenarios, or in decontamination,’ she said. ‘A lot of things are being opened up; you can move fast, break things. Te question is that, after this window, what’s going to happen in terms of getting these devices fully to market, and whether people will still


@imveurope | www.imveurope.com


LT Automation


LT Automation


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