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View from India: All set for automated future

Robotic automation plays an important role in the success of the “Make in India” programme. India ranks third in the world in implementing robotic automation in its core business processes. All indications are that the future of the robotics industry in India is bright and offers many as of yet untapped opportunities.

ABB India recently demonstrated the capabilities of YuMi, claimed to be the world’s first truly collaborative robot, made by Switzerland-based power and automation group ABB. Clients were pleasantly surprised when YuMi whished them Happy Holi, a spring festival celebrated in various parts of the country last week. For the first time in India, a robot has been used for conveying festive greetings.

India has yet to witness the official launch of YuMi, though it was showcased for the first time in the country at the February 2016 Make in India event in Mumbai. YuMi is about “you” and “me” creating an automated future together. It is a collaborative, dual-arm small parts assembly robot, which includes flexible hands, parts feeding systems, camera-based part location and state-of-the-art robot control. ABB says it can work safely side-by-side with humans on the same tasks in a normal manufacturing environment, enabling companies to get the best out of both humans and robots, together.

“YuMi meets the demands of a consumer market that is driving a need for greater flexibility in automated manufacturing head-on. For manufacturers, the market has changed the rules in ways that can be addressed effectively only by automation,” said an ABB India spokesperson. The “new norm” of Small Parts Assembly is higher product volumes, shorter product lifecycles, shorter lead times and a growing trend to customise goods – particularly electronics – close to final markets.

ABB’s research and development (R&D) centre in India had a major role to play in the software development of YuMi. ABB engineers who sit in the Centre of Competence of the Bangalore R&D unit continuously monitor the health and performance of 5,000 working robots in factories all over the world using advanced sensors and cloud-based technologies. As soon as they detect a potential problem with a working robot, they dispatch instructions to an ABB service centre nearby, enabling a technician to intervene before there is an interruption of service. Going forward, it is industrial IoT that ABB is looking at to drive growth - IoTSP, which stands for the Internet of Things, Services and People. It implies connecting things, services and people via the internet. It is the future of manufacturing.

Looking back, robots and robotic automation in general brings with it incredible precision, productivity, and flexibility. Historically, people have assumed robotic systems were reserved for the automotive industry or big manufacturers with large production lines. Robots are becoming much more affordable, flexible, easier to operate throughout their entire life cycle, and the methods used to program them are becoming a lot easier and much more intuitive. Therefore, robots can now offer small businesses similar opportunities to increase profitability that they offer large corporations like car manufacturers.

“Customers, today, want robot systems and solutions that are safe and that allow man and machine to work in greater proximity to one another. Collaboration and digitalisation are reshaping the manufacturing automation landscape, and are essential building blocks of the factory of the future,” explained the spokesperson. Today, automation is more intermittent and sporadic – people need to change over parts for a new product variation or double-check that a new application is running as it should. It simply isn’t productive to have to stop the line every time a person comes close.

As against this background, ABB has identified three growing trends in robotics which it believes will improve manufacturing: Collaboration, Simplification and Digitalization. Today, thanks to their flexibility and ability to be deployed rapidly, collaborative robots support and augment the capabilities of skilled workers, from small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to large corporations, particularly at repetitive and dull tasks.

“YuMi is one such example of how ABB is enabling the Factory of the Future. This kind of interaction between man and robot will continue as new applications are emerging every day in more and more industries. The second trend, Simplification, will make installation, commissioning and programming of robots easier,” the spokesperson declared. A good example of simplicity is intuitive programming, which anyone can do from the world’s largest auto makers to the local baker. Finally, effective plant management will be dependent on Digitalisation, or the ability to unlock the power of the internet.

India’s manufacturing and automated industry is expected to leverage the potential of YuMi.


ABB YuMi wished everyone a Very Happy Holi in March 2017:
YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=picpMIPkdks

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