3 Limitations of industrial robots in manufacturing

Today, almost all industries use industrial robots, from automotive to plastics and medical technology. They bring many benefits to manufacturing facilities and are paving the way for the smart factories of the future.

Nevertheless, there are certain limitations that manufacturers should consider when choosing their robotic equipment. The need for automated processes is growing. In fact, Fortune Business Insights predicts that the industrial robot market will reach USD 31.3 billion in 2028.

Manufacturers have become increasingly aware of the potential business and production benefits of implementing robots. Nevertheless, industrial robots are not without drawbacks. Here are some of their most common limitations and some suggestions for what manufacturers can do to overcome them.

1. The cost of industrial robots

Industrial robots typically have a high initial cost, and there are sometimes additional fees for setup. Manufacturers also need to consider future maintenance costs and the need for extra parts.

In a similar way, robotics is a dynamic field where improved models of machines are regularly introduced. Investing in new robots regularly might be a struggle for some companies. In particular, small ones that could go bankrupt in an attempt to keep up with industry trends.

However, industrial robots can help manufacturers cut costs in different areas. They can reduce production costs and increase profits by optimising work. With a clear investment strategy and financial plan, robots are most likely to bring a fast return on investment.

Another smart alternative is to invest in reconditioned robots. Typically, used robots cost half as much as new ones, while maintaining their efficiency and functionality.

2. Robot safety

Industrial robots have always been considered somehow dangerous on the factory floor. This is for good reason – they are big, bulky pieces of equipment that can move at very fast speeds. Older machines even lack the sensory capabilities to detect nearby humans, making them prone to dangerous collisions and accidents. For this reason, many manufacturers add cages or dividers to separate robots from their human co-workers.

More recently, with the introduction of collaborative robots, safety standards have become one of the main priorities in industrial automation. These are smaller, lighter, and designed specifically for work with humans. More regulatory practises are in place for both hulking industrial robots and cobots.

There is still a long way to go to achieve absolute safety in the factory. However, there is no doubt that this progress is ongoing. Most people agree that new technologies like light curtains, laser scanners, and presence-sensing gadgets can increase human safety.

A good thing for manufacturers to do is conduct an individual risk review of their production line. As well as, training workers on what to do in case of an accident.

3. Industrial robotics training can be hard

Industrial robots require expert programming and training to perform tasks. Therefore, companies need to hire experienced engineers and programmers to oversee the installation of these robots. In fact, even experienced staff may require retraining for when new software or robots enter the market. As, if employees do not programme the robot properly, it can malfunction and harm those around it.

However, in recent years, programmers have found that a new method of training robots has to be implemented. The no-code or low-code programming robots. It allows employees with less coding experience to configure a robot using visual modelling and drag-and-drop user interfaces.

No-code and low-code platforms are relatively easy to use. This means that the robots can also be reprogrammed for various jobs by only adjusting their arms. While companies would once require multiple robots, now a non-technical person can make a simple adjustment. Therefore, this saves businesses time, space, and financial resources.

The trend towards low- and no-coding platforms is rising. In fact, 84% of companies in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia are using low-code systems to cut down on the amount of coding they need.

Industrial robots prove to simplify human work, bring a fast ROI for manufacturers, and streamline production. Nevertheless, they are not without limitations. They are harder to train than humans, require high investment and maintenance costs, and pose safety challenges. While these are valid concerns for manufacturers, they can address them with careful planning and new technologies to overcome them.

At EU Automation, we believe industrial robots are key assets for smart factories. Therefore, we are constantly aware of the latest developments in robotics and monitoring their progress.