Robotics is a rapidly growing field, and manufacturing is benefiting greatly. While there is plenty of effort being put into self-propelling vacuum cleaners and machines whose sole function is to turn themselves off and on, many of the advancements in robotics can be or currently are implemented in the manufacturing industry.
Robotic machinery in factories is becoming commonplace — in some industries it has been the norm for over half a century. Companies that can afford to purchase manufacturing robots are doing so. However, many are concerned about the potential risks involved with heavy duty machinery. They can often be too hazardous to integrate with human workers and must be contained within guards.
Partly this is the result of the intrinsic danger of the machinery, which can’t be careful and doesn’t know its own strength. Part of the trouble is also the humans, since people ignore safety warnings and safety procedures with amazing frequency. As humans get more accustomed to robot coworkers, they get less careful.
The long history of human injuries from industrial machines may end soon, though, as safety features become more sophisticated and more common.
Let’s face it, danger machinery isn’t exactly a selling point for industrial machinery. You’re not going to buy a piece of equipment because you like the prospect of excitement and thrills. You’re going to buy industrial machinery in order to increase profitability and efficiency, and the danger is an undesirable risk. If you could get the same boost to your production without the safety concerns, that would be the best of both worlds. That’s exactly what engineers want to accomplish.
The goal is for industrial robots to be safe enough to work alongside human workers. There is potential for increased efficiency and optimization with the integration of human and robot workers. Pairing the abilities of a machine with the insight of a person could be extremely beneficial to the manufacturing industry.
At the moment, humans and robots working side by side isn’t the most practical option. It will take developing new technologies and perfecting the ones that we already have, but it’s not that far out. Robots working alongside humans is something that could happen within our lifetime. The pieces are in place; it will just take time.