1. Can it be rapidly installed and adapted?Conveyors have been used for transporting goods at factories and warehouses for over 100 years. That was a great help when manufacturers were producing a large number of identical products every day for a long period. However, in today’s faster-paced markets, they are expensive to install and very difficult to modify when products or processes change.
2. Can it work safely with people?
It’s essential that your mobile robot can work in the same environment as your workers and can even collaborate with them on tasks. You therefore need to ensure that it has the most advanced and appropriate technology, so that it can move safely around people. You should also check whether it complies with domestic and international safety regulations.
3. Can it work collaboratively in a fleet?
- It controls the traffic so that the mobile robots don’t block each other’s paths or wait too long for another robot to pass them.
- An effective system will allocate the tasks efficiently and can even plan ahead and predict which nearby robot will be available to work on the next job. It’s important to manage the time needed for each robot to recharge its battery, to ensure that the work isn’t interrupted during peak times.
4. Can it be easily adapted to meet your specific needs?Mobile robots must be able to be adapted for different types of jobs. For example, a robot might be used to move items from a pick-up location to a drop-off location. It might then need to attach itself to a movable cart and transfer that from one place to another. Similarly, if it has a collaborative arm, it might be used to pick up individual items. Or it might be deployed so that it can receive items and load them onto a conveyor belt.
5. Can it run reliably worldwide?
ConclusionThe world of manufacturing continues to change. We’re now entering a new phase in which machines are working more interactively with people. At Omron, we’re therefore developing solutions that involve greater collaboration between machines and people. The new generation of mobile robots will enable production sites to be much more agile and flexible, with the ability to adjust rapidly to meet changing consumer needs. This in turn will enable manufacturers to be more responsive, more productive and ultimately more profitable.
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Bruno AdamOmron Mobile Robot Business Director Europe and General Manager Omron Adept Technologies.