Based on information from the Halle Institute for Financial Analysis on using robots in German vegetation, adoption of the expertise continues to be unusual, even in a rustic with the very best robotic density in Europe. Progress is additional skewed towards bigger vegetation the place the exponential value of subtle autonomous cellular robots (AMRs) is much less of an impediment. However why is uptake so low for an trade that’s persevering with to innovate at velocity?
It’s not exhausting to think about the next situation: A forklift driver turns a nook at velocity, collides with an automatic guided automobile (AGV), and damages the unit or its laser navigation machine. This situation is an everyday prevalence on work flooring that deploy AGVs. Now think about the identical situation with an AMR as an alternative of a forklift driver, and even all three in a single place. It’s no marvel that companies are cautious about investing in pricey AMRs with little assure of interoperability.
The very fact is that trade’s present focus is on applied sciences which might be years away from widespread use, and competitors amongst producers has created an “each AMR for themselves” mindset.
Whereas unimaginable technological advances on particular person units present the immense capabilities throughout the discipline, the dearth of interoperability finally hurts the progress of the trade as a complete — and even threatens to halt implementation in its tracks.
Assume again to that first situation with AGV and forklift. With out sensible, cost-effective options to present navigation and security issues, how can the AMR trade construct belief in companies for newer and extra subtle, automated autos that require further funding?
“Greenfield” refers to conditions the place there is no such thing as a present gear or services, and work flooring could be designed from scratch. A fantasy for a lot of organizations, greenfield initiatives can supply the chance (for many who can afford it) to seamlessly combine extremely subtle AMRs with common operations.
In actuality, greenfield alternatives are hardly ever out there to corporations seeking to streamline present processes and work streams. AMRs designed for this sort of mission usually are unable to perform safely and successfully alongside present equipment and human-operated units.
What was meant to be an funding in effectivity and streamlining can create additional obstacles and dangers on the work flooring. The “fleet administration” answer, whereas helpful to some extent, is usually unable to seize the whole lot of the work flooring, from AGVs to AMRs to human-driven forklifts and human employees.
“Brownfield” refers to conditions the place legacy gear and software program are nonetheless in place. Usually these are basic to the prevailing work flooring, and firms are unwilling to switch their processes to retrofit new and costly AMRs.
The fact for many organizations seeking to combine AMRs into their work flooring is a hybrid transition, the place robots are launched onto the ground alongside present equipment and folks as a brownfield mission.
The AGV is an instance of present property. It’s a conveyable robotic that follows pre-designated routes on the ground, in varied monitoring applied sciences equivalent to laser, magnetic tapes, wires and sensors. The expertise used for this navigation is usually embedded throughout the processes of a piece flooring, so it’s no shock that companies want to clear up the protection and productiveness challenges of their present equipment, and are unwilling to interchange them with costly AMRs.
No matter how extremely expert an AMR could be, if it isn’t capable of perform alongside present expertise, it’ll seemingly create larger prices and dangers to companies — bolstering the “if it ain’t broke, don’t repair it” mentality towards legacy property.
Revolutionary options for the AMR trade shouldn’t essentially be probably the most distinctive and superior technological units, however relatively using expertise to unify a wide range of units right into a single, coordinated workforce.
All-around flooring administration, versus AMR fleet administration, might be key to enabling a clean transition in brownfield initiatives. A holistic strategy to the work flooring that takes under consideration the positioning and actions of man-driven forklifts, older AVGs, new AMRs and human employees is the one technique to successfully bridge the hole in brownfield initiatives.
By enabling ease of transition, the marketplace for AMRs can explode, permitting cost-effective units to perform on an present work flooring with out posing huge danger to folks, inventory and present units.
Assume again to the forklift and AGV situation. If the driving force could possibly be notified of the AGV coming across the nook in actual time, they may decelerate and keep away from the collision. Now introduce an AMR to the situation. It turns into a a lot much less dangerous funding if enterprise house owners could be assured that their work flooring are coordinated with out having to begin from scratch.
An answer for the hybrid work flooring on brownfield initiatives is one which works for as we speak and tomorrow, easing corporations into the way forward for AMR applied sciences with out throwing out all the pieces they’ve constructed up to now.
Onn Fenig is chief government officer of 634AI.