5 Ways Robotic Manufacturing Can Help in a Crisis World

car assembly line

At the start of 2020, it was business as usual in manufacturing.

Then everything changed.

The global pandemic flipped our world sideways.

But, there is a silver lining. Robotics looks set to thrive in a post-crisis world.

It’s difficult to live through a crisis. As I write this, we are in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic that has ground to a halt the world and economy — we don’t yet know what the long term effects will be.

But, living through any crisis is tough.

In a crisis…

We become unsure of the stability of our businesses.

We need to provide optimism to our teams when everyone is fearful.

Finally, we need to become the calm, certain voice in the midst of all the uncertainty.

In a crisis, our tendency is often to “batten down the hatches” (as they say in the navy) and just hide until it all “blows over.”

In a crisis, most people are not thinking about automation…

… but perhaps they should be. Robotics could be the key to surviving in manufacturing during hard times.

Is Now Really the Time to Think About Automation?

At a time when the market and/or our business is plunged into uncertainty, the idea of investing in a lot of new technology probably seems like a risky strategy.

You might be thinking “I can’t make any decisions on robotic automation right now.”

Like many of us, you might be looking at the situation in the manufacturing world and thinking “I’m going to see how this all pans out before I do anything.”

And, you might be right. Investing big in robotic technology right now might be a risky strategy, depending on when you are reading this article…

If you are reading this when everything is still very uncertain (as is the case at the time I’m writing it), nobody knows what’s going to happen when the crisis passes. Everyone is just waiting and, as a result, we have to wait too.

However, if you’re reading this after a couple of weeks or months, when we’re starting to understand the impact of that crisis, you’re in a great position to set yourself up for success in the coming year.

You have the power to put yourself and your manufacturing business into a strong position to rocket to success.

And robotics looks set to be a winning technology for those of us who want to skyrocket into a quick and effective recovery.

How to Think About Robotics at a Time Like This

The key to success in a time of crisis is to change how we’re thinking. Right now, many manufacturers are struggling because they’re trying to find short-term solutions to avoid failure.

As many experts are saying right now: in a crisis, think long term.

There is great wisdom to this advice. Back in 2008, at the peak of the global financial crisis, those businesses who were able to take a long-term view were those who ultimately got their head above water much quicker.

Although it seems counterintuitive to many, investing in the long term (e.g. thinking “Where do we want to be a year from now?”) is the way to ensure your manufacturing business doesn’t join the hoards of companies who will be flailing around trying to catch up when things start to pick up again.

And, robotics is one of the proven technologies that helps with a long-term view.

Even though you might not actually purchase your robotic equipment right now, it’s a great time to start thinking about how you could incorporate robotic automation into your operations.

5 Reasons Robotic Manufacturing Can Thrive in a Crisis Now

There are various reasons that robotics can help manufacturers to come out on top in a crisis now.

1. Robots Can Do Things That Others Can’t

The Robot Report recently published a list of amazing robot applications which have been used to handle the situation after the outbreak of COVID-19.

These include things like disinfection drones in Hong Kong, healthcare automation in Beijing, and telepresence robots in New York. As the article explains “The novel coronavirus has increased interest in robots, drones, and artificial intelligence.”

2. Bigger Demand for Automation

We have been seeing an increased interest in automation for some time now. Over the last 5 years, manufacturers have begun to look for ways that they can use automation to improve productivity, efficiency, and product quality at a lower cost. After a crisis, these benefits become even more important. They could make or break a business.

3. Manufacturers Looking to Reduce Hands-on Work

The demand for automation has gone hand-in-hand with the fact that many manufacturers are looking to cut down hands-on work where possible. Over the past couple of years, robots have begun to replace manual workers in some tasks, with the manual workers moving to more rewarding, intellectual tasks in the business.

Those manufacturers who are already using robotics are in a good position to keep production moving through the tough situation.

4. Move to More Remote Working

One of the immediate effects of the COVID-19 crisis was the sudden move to remote working and away from physical business locations. This is obviously challenging for manufacturers who need to be physically located in their workshops and factories.

In a more remote world, robotics can become a bridge between the virtual and the physical world. With a good robot simulator, you can work on your robot setup without having to be physically present.

5. The Long Term View Wins

Ultimately, the path to continued success during a crisis is to build the foundations for the future. Quick wins are hard when everything is uncertain, but a long term strategy can become very strong if it is started when times are tough.

Robotics is set to be one of the foundational tools for success in this rapidly changing world. If you choose to join the many manufacturers who have already got started with automation, you can thrive in a crisis world.

What concerns do you have about the current situation? Tell us in the comments below or join the discussion on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or in the RoboDK Forum.

About Alex Owen-Hill

Alex Owen-Hill is a freelance writer and public speaker who blogs about a large range of topics, including science, presentation skills at CreateClarifyArticulate.com, storytelling and (of course) robotics. He completed a PhD in Telerobotics from Universidad Politecnica de Madrid as part of the PURESAFE project, in collaboration with CERN. As a recovering academic, he maintains a firm foot in the robotics world by blogging about industrial robotics.

View all posts by Alex Owen-Hill

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