Many companies large and small understand the benefits of automation, but selecting the tools, putting them into practice, and then managing them well isn’t easy.
The Robotic Industries Association (RIA) helps companies get the most from robots, machine vision, and other forms of automation.
Setting the Stage
It’s always helpful to remember how processes have evolved to understand the present and get a picture of the future. Stationary robots were useful in the automotive and other heavy industries to create a product that had the same specifications. The same exact process was used many times over to create the same model car.
The article on RIA, The Robotmakers – Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, traces the relationships between the world’s four major robot makers and the first industrial robot and how automation has moved from serving large multinational manufacturers and has become a flexible solution for small and medium sized businesses.
Automation has served mass production well and during the past several years has become a powerful tool in serving the need for mass customization. Manufacturers can achieve the low unit cost of mass production but with enough flexibility and personalization to satisfy specific customer demands.
The challenge is knowing how to use automation in meeting current and future business goals.
The Digital Factory
RIA is a guide to understanding the factory of the future where zero production errors and no downtime is more reality than theory. Learning how to use software and control technologies to connect equipment and get value from the Industrial Internet of Things is a move toward “smart” manufacturing.
A digital transformation in industry is “required” according to consulting firm McKinsey and Company. The write-up Digital manufacturing: The revolution will be virtualized warns that most manufacturers are not responding to opportunities and challenges “in a comprehensive, coordinated way.”
Getting trusted input is convenient through RIA’s website. Among the resources are free webinars that give practical tips like How to Successfully Implement Robotics in Your Industry, covering planning, engineering, and project management.
The Collaborative Factory
More people are sharing their workload with robots and collaborative robots are becoming easier to use while keeping safe operation as a priority.
Robot maker Staubli says it’s ushering in a new era of man-robot collaboration with the TX2 line of collaborative robots. At Automate 2017, as noted on Automation.com, Staubli Robotics simulated a realistic Smart Factory to demonstrate the TX2 models’ collaborative skills and Industry 4.0 capabilities.
An innovative safety feature is the use of sensors to make the robot aware of where the human operator is at all times.
RIA helps automation users at all stages of choosing, implementing, and improving existing systems. A forum called Ask the Experts lets users post questions in 12 specific categories and then see replies.
Don’t take a go-it-alone approach to automation. Just like making a robot requires a cross-discipline team so does putting robots and other forms of automation into action. RIA has set high standards for programs like its Integrator Certification program and In-House Safety Training.
RIA began in 1974 and is the only trade group in North America organized specifically to serve the robotics industry. Membership is available in five general categories: supplier; system integrator; robotic automation user; consultants and affiliates; educator-researcher.
RIA is one of three member organizations of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3). Many resources are free, while memberships offer ways to promote products, network, and boost a company’s overall chances of success. They’re available through A3automate.org.