Managing Director, Reliance
COVID-19 has impacted Ireland in many ways, but one unforeseen change is that the automation of manual tasks has increased significantly.
A McKinsey report analysis suggests that 39-58% of the worldwide work activities in operationally intensive sectors could be automated by employing current automation technologies.
Reliance Automation, Ireland’s largest automation supply partner, has seen such a change first-hand within the Irish market where their customers are finding it very difficult to attract labour. The issue is apparent across the whole island, especially for repetitive, arduous and dangerous tasks.
This shift in the market has prompted the company to seek out even more new and innovative solutions to customers’ needs in our manufacturing industries. As a result, full automation of heavy lifting, packaging, driving pallet trucks, manual picking and placing of parts and even handling dangerous components is now more commonplace.
Utilising mobile robotic technology
Examples of innovations that are being continually deployed in today’s factories include the use of AMRs otherwise known as autonomous mobile robots. Previously these were known as AGVs but newer technology allows the mobile robots to now move around workers and obstacles safely and be programmed easily without any need for floor or wall sensors.
Reliance automation distributes AMRs from the world leading mobile robot brand, Mobile Industrial Robots A/S (MiR). Companies are deploying MiR robots to simplify and automate logistical tasks like moving products between clean rooms and warehouses, moving pallets to storage areas etc. Typically, this frees up crucial staff for more meaningful tasks thereby improving job satisfaction.
MiR robots can be used seamlessly with many other collaborative technologies such as universal robots, OnRobot grippers and ROEQ accessories (carts, rolling conveyors) for the top of the mobile robot.
Newer technology allows the mobile robots to now move around workers and obstacles safely.
Safe human and robot collaboration
Another automation trend that is being deployed on the manufacturing floor is the use of collaborative robots, meaning robots that can safely interact with humans without the use of extra guarding or safety systems. The robots are built specifically for this purpose as well as focusing on ease of programming and flexibility of re-deployment. Universal robots are the market leader and a partner of Reliance Automation. UR collaborative robots now have many compatible technologies to make the systems even easier to implement into production, by the end user themselves in many cases.
OnRobot is a company based in Denmark, Europe’s silicon valley for automation. The company has a vast range of end of arm tooling that clips easily and seamlessly onto the universal robot. The tooling is high tech and extremely intuitive. It automatically communicates with the robot so that minimal programming is needed to run an automated process. The range includes palletising, electric suction grippers, finger grippers end even sanding and screwdriving tools. OnRobot grippers are fully collaborative, very affordable and additional safety validation is not necessary for deployment.
New automation hub
Reliance Automation will be opening a brand new automation hub within its new facility in Ballymount, Dublin in January 2022. The hub will allow engineers and stakeholders to experience innovative automation technologies first-hand on a one-to-one basis with their technical experts. The hub will also house Dublin’s only training centre for Universal Robots. A launch of the automation hub is expected in the first quarter of 2022.
Interactive technology on display at the automation hub will include innovative products such as a world’s first collaborative high-speed delta (spider) robot with built-in safety scanners and vision system. A vision guided collaborative palletising system for bags and boxes, an intelligent bowl feeding system, a robotic welding system and electrical pneumatic replacements will also be showcased.