Rise of the robotics
No longer harbingers of the future, robotics are today’s technology according to PMMI’s Trends in Robotics Market Assessment 2014.
February 25, 2014
by Canadian Packaging Staff
Reston, Va.—New jobs, greater safety and increased productivity: These are just a few benefits ascribed to robotic technologies by participants in the newest business intelligence study by PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, “Trends in Robotics Market Assessment 2014.”
The 100 interviews conducted for the study — in-depth conversations with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), integrators, robot suppliers and industry experts — revealed shifts in robotic use, expected benefits and more.
“Robotics got their start in palletizing,” says report author Donna Ritson, president, DDR Communications. “Now they’re coming up to the front of the line, for processing and depalletizing.”
Survey participants anticipate a wide range of advancements in robotics over the next five years, too. Where the 2008 survey respondents were considering their robotics potentially expanding upstream from end-of-line upstream, 2014 respondents anticipate developments that will redefine the role robotics play in manufacturing operations:
- Sanitation improvements will allow for direct contact with food;
- Spatial awareness that keeps workers adjacent to the robot safe;
- Lower costs that will make robotics more pervasive;
- Vision sensors that allow even greater precision and handling — even giving robots the ability to sort by color;
- Faster speeds and heavier lifting capabilities.
These developments are resulting as much from increased usage as they are from advancements in hardware and software, notes Paula Feldman, director, business intelligence, PMMI.
“What we heard in our interviews mirrors much of what we’ve been seeing at PACK EXPO,” she says. “When we studied the robotics marketplace in 2008, only 20 percent of manufacturers used robots to package their products. Today, 75 percent of end users use robotics at some point along their manufacturing lines, and the capabilities for food and pharmaceutical processing are game-changers.”
And, although robotics are integral to replacing manual labor and reducing operating costs, they’re also creating new job opportunities. The manufacturing worker of tomorrow will need to have a higher level of technical training to design, integrate, operate and maintain robotic technologies.
“Expect to see growth in job functions such as integration services, mechatronics engineering, robotic training and operating, and PLC and servo programming,” she says.
PMMI owns and produces PACK EXPO International 2014 (McCormick Place, Chicago; Nov. 2–5) and is working in partnership with the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering to produce the co-located Pharma EXPO. The two events — with 1.1 million net square feet of exhibit space and 2,000 exhibitors — will feature robotics in action and draw about 50,000 packaging and processing professionals. Learn more, and sign up for a registration alert, at www.Packexpointernational.com.
To learn more about “Trends in Robotics Market Assessment 2014,” watch an interview with author Donna Ritson:
and download the report (free to PMMI members; $3,500 for nonmembers) at www.PMMI.org.
PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, is a trade association representing over 600 packaging and processing supply chain companies that provide a full range of packaging and processing machinery, materials, components and containers. PMMI actively brings buyers and sellers together through programs and events such as The PACK EXPO family of trade shows, packexpo.com, PMT Magazine, PACK EXPO Show Daily, networking events and educational programs.
PMMI organizes the PACK EXPO trade shows: PACK EXPO International, Pharma EXPO, co-located with PACK EXPO International and presented jointly with the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE); PACK EXPO Las Vegas, PACK EXPO East, EXPO PACK México and EXPO PACK Guadalajara, connecting participants in the packaging and processing supply chain with their customers around the world. Coming Up: EXPO PACK México 2014, June 17-20 (Mexico City, Mexico); PACK EXPO International 2014, Nov. 2-5 (McCormick Place, Chicago); Pharma EXPO, co-located with PACK EXPO International 2014; PACK EXPO East, debuting Feb. 2–4, 2015 (Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia); EXPO PACK Guadalajara 2015, March 18-20, 2015 (Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico).
The Alliance for Innovation & Operational Excellence (AIOE) was founded by PMMI in 2011 to facilitate the development of solutions to common operational challenges through the collaboration of the manufacturing and engineering professionals in consumer products companies and their suppliers.