Defining industrial robots is helpful to look back at what has changed from their inception to the present day. The first robots were just industrial robots, which were machines that could perform a series of repetitive and relatively static movements. Nowadays, with the development of technology, it is increasingly difficult to distinguish between an industrial robot and a service robot and define the boundaries of their working areas. Industrial robots are understood as robots "for the automation of production," while service robots "solve useful tasks for people or equipment, excluding industrial automation applications."
In reality, scenarios arise in the industry where robots and humans have to share workspace and tasks, which means that industrial robots are not confined to a safe zone.
Increasingly, we find that service robots are already working in the industry.
The concept of an industrial robot
So, what is an industrial robot? It is a device designed to automate intensive production tasks like those needed on a continuously moving assembly line. Large, heavy robots are positioned at permanent locations in an industrial plant, and all other production tasks and operations are performed using them.
The properties of industrial robots depend on the manufacturers, the need, and the circuit in which they are to operate.
According to an expert report, the professional service robots market size is expected to grow at a CAGR of 19% in 2022. In addition, the worldwide pandemic has opened up additional prospects and demand for the application of some service robots, for example, cleaning or disinfection or other medical tasks.
Moreover, industrial robot components are increasingly being used for tasks beyond the production environment. The challenge is to integrate industrial robot systems into operations in new markets.
Industrial robotics challenges include automating production lines, making them more agile and adaptable to individual customer needs.
The main areas of industrial robot integration are:
- Logistics: mobile autonomous robots for transporting goods in different areas and mobile manipulators that expand the workspace of stationary robotic arms. The logistics tasks for which robots are used are sorting and stacking, metrology, packaging, polishing, twisting, drilling, palletizing, etc.
- Inspection and maintenance: use of robotics systems equipped with sensors or artificial vision systems in inspection tasks in hard-to-access or dangerous for operators zone. Such devices operate autonomously or can be controlled remotely by the operator.
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In what areas is robotic service technology used?
- Safety and rescue work: detecting and analyzing dangerous situations, searching and exchanging data in real-time, moving cargo... Autonomous mobile robots have a lot to offer in security, rescue, and defense applications.
- Agriculture: AMRs are increasingly used in fruit picking, crop level identification, spraying, or sorting.
Construction: Timely error detection, automated execution of complex tasks, or monitoring and inspection are just some of the functions that AMR can accomplish in the construction industry.
- Medicine: As noted above, collaborative robots are already often used in areas such as transporting food or supplies, assisting surgeons, telemechanics, or performing administrative tasks.