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Report Is To Explore The Option Of Adopting Robotics Technology

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Question:

Discuss Report Is To Explore the Option of Adopting Robotics Technology?

 

Answer:

Introduction

This report covers a case study of adoption of Robotics for an Artificial Intelligence company which is located in Brisbane.  The company is planning to use robotics for its manufacturing, mining, and transporting operations across Australia and also aims to expand into Asian region. Robotics is proposed to be used for this expansion plan. A five year strategy plan for the same has to be developed. This report investigates the potential of Robotics, its advantages, disadvantages, and formulates this five year plan for its adoption by the AI firm. Based on this exploration, a plan for implementation of robotics in the company would be presented for the next five years.

Robotic technology

Robotics refers to designing, development, and use of machines that can perform a range of tasks automatically without much human intervention.

 

Current use of robots

Car industry was the first to adopt robotics in a factory environment for assembling such that manufacturing productivity can be improved. In the current century, robots are mainly used for completing hose tasks that are either tedious or unsafe for humans such as mining, military and transportation. Some robots are also used for home applications such as vacuum cleaning, gutter cleaning, and lawn moving, and so on (Cappella J, 2001).

With growing dependence of the world on robots, work environments have started to change across the world. Considering the importance of Robotics, Queensland State Government has started a program to teach coding and robotics to students of State Schools from early ages. It is believed that thee programs have the potential to make students better problem solvers. Moreover, humanoids can help those learners who suffer from disabilities with development of communication and social skills.  

Today, robots have a wide variety of applications in multiple industries including telecommunications, military, medical, industrial, and consumers. In telecommunication applications, Robots can be used to control applications using wireless connections like Bluetooth, wifi, internet, and tethered connections. Such applications can be used for space exploration, hazardous area exploration, and biomedicals. Some examples of such robots include Mars Exploration Rovers, Invasive surgical systems, remotely operated vehicles, and Hubble space telescope (Bauml & Hirzinger, 2006).

Military uses robotics to reach places that can be unsafe for humans or for the purpose of safe exploration. Some examples of robotic systems used in military applications are Talon Robots, Dragon Runner, MPRS, MATILDA, T3, URBOT, REDCAR, and so on. ARTS is robotics equipment which is used for disposing explosive ordinance materials by military.

Medical robots are used for general surgeries, gastrointestinal surgeries, cardiothoracic surgeries, neurosurgeries, radio surgeries, orthopaedics, paediatrics, urology, gynaecology, and cardiology. Da Vinci Robot is a three armed robot that carries miniature cameras to take 3D images of inside parts of human body. Other popular robots used in medical field include Robodoc, Robot injection device, and ZEUS Robotical Surgery System (Carroll, 2017).

Consumer robots are usually made for entertainment or interaction with the owners of robotic devices. Some examples of consumer robots are Wow-wee Robosapien V2, AkaZawa's Desktop PLEN Robot, and Wow Wee Robopanda.

Industrial robots are used for enhancing production outputs and performing repetitive actions such as welding, painting, ironing, packaging, palletizing, assembling, pickup, product inspection and product testing. Industrial robots can have different purposes and based on the same, robots can be categorized into small robots, low payload robots, medium payload robots, robots for heavy duty applications, and special models. There are many organizations that produce robots for industrial robots such as ABB, OTC, Hyundai, Panasonic, Toshiba, Kuka Robotics, and Janome to name a few.

Types of Robots

Robots can be classified on the basis of different criterion such as types of movement, application of robotics, architecture, and the brand. Following these criteria, robots can be divided into four types including articulated, Cartesian, cylindrical and polar. Articulated robots have rotary joints through which base is connected to a robotic arm. In such robots, movement can happen using any joint and thus, they provide a great deal of flexibility. Cartesian robots are rectilinear and they operate using Cartesian coordinates. Linear motion is possible in these robots with prismatic joints. These robots are mostly used for applications like sealing, transferring, stacking, as conveyors, and so on. Cylindrical robots have both rotary joint that rotates with the base and prismatic joint that moves linearly. Polar or spherical robots have an arm connected to base with a twisting joint combined with rotary and linear joints. These types of robots are mostly used in industries to enhance productivity, increase efficiency, and reduce operational errors (Implement Partners, 2016).

Expansion into Australian and Asia

The use of industrial robots is on a rise in Asia. In 2015, the sales of industrial robots rose by 19% than previous year to 160,000 units. 43% of these sales were from China. 89% of the robots sold to Asia and Australia come from China, South Korea and Japan as per World Robotics Report 2016 (Carroll, 2017). Thailand is a growing market for robotics in Asia and in 2015, 2,600 units of robots was supplied to the country. India brought 2,100 robotic units in 2015 (IFR, 2016).

 

Robotic technology Adoption Strategy

Advantages & Disadvantage of Robotics

Use of robotics in an industrial organization can have several advantages including:

  • Use of robotics leads to increase in throughput which enhances productivity of a manufacturing unit and thus, reduce the production costs

  • With the use of robotics in manufacturing unit, production cycle times are reduced because of increased efficiencies of manufacturing processes

  • As robots can perform actions with more precision and accuracy, the quality and reliability of products can be enhanced.

  • The footprint of the work area is greatly reduced with robots and thus, space utilization is better

  • Because of accuracy of robots, the material utilization is reduced and thus, there is less wastage in production

  • As use of robotics can automate processes and thus, there are less delays and faster production schedules which would enhance customer satisfaction and thus, being in more revenues for the organization

  • With robotics, multiple processes and activities can be integrated including welding, material handling, packaging, palletizing, cutting, and so on(JEVTIC & ANDINA, 2007).

There can also be some challenges in using robotics for a manufacturing unit such as:

  • Robotics require huge investments which can leave the company with less liquidity and thus, it can have greater financial implications on the organization if it does not work as expected

  • If the needs of robotics are not identified properly, it can lead to overdue of robotics or underuse. In any case, organization can either lose on money or productivity of the operations.

  • As robotics is relatively newer technology, it is very important to provide training to all the people using it which needs significant time. However, if sufficient training could not be gathered then it can lead to problems (RObotWorx, 2017).

  • Use of robotics can reduce the human intervention which on one side is good but on the other side, it makes people less equipped to handle things on their own as they become more dependent on robots

  • If the investments on robotics have to be reduced then it would require humans to operate the systems. Though it would reduce the number of workers required but at the same time, it would demand a high level of efficiency from the people handling robot devices.

  • Because of the complexities involved in technology, a high level of training is required which would be a major cost to the company besides the cost of implementation and thus, the total cost of adoption of robotics in a manufacturing organization can be significant.

  • With increased use of robotic machines for managing operations, the maintenance would be required more frequently which would be a cost to the company.

  • With robots taking over most of the work, the organization would have to let go of several employees which would put the company into bad reputation for layoffs.

  • At work, the use of robots can make the environment safer(LIN, BEKEy, & ABNEY, 2009). However, concerns are raised as robots in a manufacturing setting have the potential to take over jobs from human workers. Ethical concerns are also raised with a thought that humanoids can hurt humans or destroy their properties if they get hacked such that the attacker takes control over robots to commit crimes (Joordens, Eega, Jaimes, & Jamshidi, 2008).

 

Potential solutions for risks

Major risks that can occur in robotics application include increased dependence on robots, loss of human employment, increased risk to humans and operations because of hacking, and high cost of implementation and training. These problems can however, be overcoming by taking following steps:

Increased dependence on Robotics: An organization may only use robotics where repetitive or dangerous tasks have to be performed that do not add value to human learning such that highly intellectual work is taken care of by humans and the dependence on robots is reduced.

Job Loss: Humans tend to lose jobs to robots but at the same time, people who are adept at doing multiple takes and handling multiple operations can still be retained in an organization even after robots take up some of their work. Thus, organizations should work on development of their employees to make them professionally equipped to handle robotics as well as other operations that do not use robotics with higher efficiencies. Increased competencies in human workers can help them retain their jobs even after the implementation of robotic technologies (Jackson & Eddy, 2000).

Security Risks: As robotic devices of today are mostly connected to internet, there is an increased risk of hacking which can disrupt critical infrastructure off company causing major havocs like power blackouts, data hacking, and loss of control over machines that can cause harm to the company and so on. Thus, it is very important that companies understand the implications of such security threats and deploy proper procedures and security measures to protect their systems from getting hacked.

High Cost: Robotics does have high cost of implementation as well as cost would be incurred in training. It cannot be avoided but the returns can be gained that overcome this drawback by saving the company more money than invested my making efficient use of robotics.  With proper planning, formation of implemetation and operational strategies, organizations can actually use robotics to increase their productivity, save operational costs, and enhance process efficiencies which would gain them more money. Moreover, with the implementation of robotics in applications like mining, production and logistics, the deliveries to customers can be made faster and more accurate that would bring in better reputation for the company in the minds of the customer them increasing their level of satisfaction and trust. This can get the company more trusted customers as well as good reputation that would bring in more customers helping company gain more revenues (businessknowledgesource.com, 2013).

 

Conclusions

This report explored the idea of adoption of robotics for AI firm that wants to implement robotic system for their mining,  production and logistics operations. The report explored various industries where robotics is used as well as explored different types of robots that can be used for these applications. The report also identified specific advantages as well as challenges that the company can face while adopting robotics in the organization. It was found that robotics can have significant benefits for any manufacturing organization as it can help company increase accuracy, efficiency of operations, speed of deliveries, and save on operational costs. At the sometime, it also comes with a few challenges such as increased dependence on robots, loss of human employment, increased risk to humans and operations because of hacking, and high cost of implementation and training. However, most of these risks can be overcome by taking appropriate measures such that the company can make the best use of robotics for its benefit. In the next section, a plan for implementaton of robotics technology in the AI Company for mining, manufacturing and logistics is presented highlighting the steps that company can take to go ahead with the adoption based on the lessons learned till now.

Recommendations

Based on the study conducted, certain recommendations can be made on the adoption of Robotics or mining, manufacturing, and transportation activities in the organization. The organization can follow below steps for implementation of robotics:

Identification of Opportunities: The first step is identification of opportunities where robotics can be implemented considering mining, manufacturing, and transportation. In mining, robotics can be used for navigating through tunnels, automating loading and unloading, object detection, underground navigation, machinery automation, and drilling walls or mines for carving (Nanda, Dash, Acaharya, & Mohrana, 2010). When considering transportation, robotics can be used for warehousing and distribution operations of the organization. Most factories use some kind of automation systems such as conveyors, sorters, and pickers and some of the components of these systems can be called as robotic systems. However, loading and unloading still has a scope for automation which can be done using robotic systems like Parcel Robot which takes care of sorting, packaging, loading and unloading. This robot has a chassis, a conveyor belt, 3D laser scanner, and a group system. The robot can unload items, scan bar codes, analyze parcel sizes, and identify best unloading sequence for improved logistics (Kückelhaus, Huber, Niezgoda, & Bischoff, 2016).

Validate the Opportunity: At this stage, processes that are decided to be automated using robots would be analyzed for their adaptability. The analysis would be done for transactional and decision specific parts to understand what benefits each robotics installation would bring to the business such that appropriate design models can be formulated.

These steps of identification and validation of opportunities should take around 6 months before an actual design model is made for robotics adoption.

Select Appropriate Design Model: Based on the requirements for automation of mining, manufacturing and transportation operations, processes can be redesigns such that the scope for implementation of robotics could be maximized. Specific needs of the business processes would require customization of the robotics design model considering input capturing, building of codes, and upgrading of systems. The process of model designing would take another six months for the company.

Developing Implementation Plan: At this stage, all the processes and scenarios would be identified that would be affected by the robotic implementation. The target would be to automate over 75% of the processes using robotics.  The implementation plan can be prepared on the basis of the design model in a month.

Deployment of the Pilot Phase: Before robotic systems are finally put to use in respective divisions, a pilot phase would be run in which stakeholders would be involved for assessing the potential of the new implementation such that any need for big fixing, modification or training could be met before the actual roll out of the system takes place. The pilot phase can be deployed in the next six month followed by the testing of the same to ensure that it is effective which could take 6 more months.

Roll Out: A plan for training people on the use of robotics system in the company would be developed which would include documentation and actual training for employees. At this stage, some processes would be affected in a way that it would make the jobs of some people redundant and thus, management has to prepare for the big change by handing over the jobs from employees to robots and retaining only those employees in the company who still have relevant profiles beyond robotic capabilities. Actual roll out can begin with introduction of technology for one operations and in one division such that the entre process of implication and testing is repeated only after seeing the effects of implementation.

Activities

Milestones

Opportunities identification

3 months

Validation of opportunities

3 months

Design model selection

6 months

Implementation planning

1 month

Pilot Phase I - Manufacturing

6 months

Testing

6 months

Roll out

6 months

Pilot Phase I - Mining

6 months

Testing

6 months

Roll out

6 months

Pilot Phase I - Transportation

6 months

Testing

6 months

Roll out

6 months

 

References

Bauml, B., & Hirzinger, G. (2006). Agile Robot Development (aRD): A Pragmatic Approach to Robotic Software. Wessling, Germany: German Aerospace Center.

businessknowledgesource.com. (2013). THE BENEFITS AND DISADVANTAGES OF USING ROBOTICS IN MANUFACTURING. Retrieved May 8, 2017, from businessknowledgesource.com: https://www.businessknowledgesource.com/manufacturing/the_benefits_and_disadvantages_of_using_robotics_in_manufacturing_033176.html

Cappella J, P. C. (2001). Rules for responsive robots: using human interaction to build virtual interaction. Cambridge University Press.

Carroll, J. (2017, February 1). Industrial robots in Asia on the rise. Retrieved May 8, 2017, from Vision Systems Design: https://www.vision-systems.com/articles/2017/02/industrial-robots-in-asia-on-the-rise.html

IFR. (2016). Executive Summary World Robotics 2016 Industrial Robots . IFR.

Implement Partners. (2016). Agile Robot Development. Implement Partners.

Jackson, E., & Eddy, D. (2000). Design and Implementation Methodology for Autonomous Robot Control Systems. International Submarine Engineering, Ltd. .

JEVTIC, A., & ANDINA, D. (2007). Swarm Intelligence and Its Applications in Swarm Robotics. Universidad Politecnica de Madrid ´.

Joordens, M. A., Eega, S., Jaimes, A., & Jamshidi, M. (2008). Applications and Prototype for System of Systems Swarm Robotics . WACONG.

Kückelhaus, M., Huber, A., Niezgoda, D., & Bischoff, H. (2016). ROBOTICS IN LOGISTICS. DHL Trend Research.

LIN, P., BEKEy, G., & ABNEY, K. (2009). Robots in War: Issues of Risk and Ethics . Ethics and Robotics , 1 (2), 49-55.

Nanda, S. K., Dash, A. K., Acaharya, S., & Mohrana, A. (2010). Application of RObotics in Mining Idustry: The Critical Review. Indian Mining & Engineering Journal , 108-1112.

RObotWorx. (2017). Advantages and Disadvantages of Automating with Industrial Robots. Retrieved May 8, 2017, from Robots.com: https://www.robots.com/blog/viewing/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-automating-with-industrial-robot

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