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Collaborative robots ushering in Industry 5.0
17. October 2017 / By Esben H. Østergaard / 5 Comments
There’s long been a global movement to create smart, automated production setups and make things communicate digitally – all jingoistically summed up as “Industry 4.0”.
But at Universal Robots, we reckon a new robotics development is even more interesting: We call this “Industry 5.0”, simply to highlight the difference.
Whereas Industry 4.0 setups are largely about consistency of quality, consistency of flow and data collection – replacing functions in which lesser-skilled people had to carry out repetitive, burdensome tasks – Industry 5.0 is about highly skilled people and robots working side by side to create individualised products, services and experiences.
Having cobots and human work together at Aurolab manufacturing cataract kits resulted in a massive 15% increase in the product output, with over 2,000,000 lenses per year.
Industry 5.0 is basically about robot capabilities and human skills converging to get the best of both. It’s a state of development in which manufacturers pair the unique, cognitive skills of a craftsperson or other skilled human with a robot’s ability to deal with requirements for heavy lifting, consistent quality and round-the-clock exactitude.
Industry 5.0 involves the transformation of modern manufacturing as well as a wide range of other processes – commercial and non-commercial – to enable man and machine to work side by side – collaboratively. Using collaborative robots (cobots).
At Linaset in the Czech Republic, manual blast molding was time and resource consuming, a UR5 now handles the task, freeing up labor to value-added tasks.
This redeployment of human creativity into setups where skilled workers collaborate with robots is necessary because market requirements and consumer expectations are moving away from mass production, and end-user customers are demanding much more personalization and customization in the products they buy.
Robots are excellent at manufacturing standardized products using standardized processes that help ensure high speed and high production volume.
But adding a “special something” to each and every product is a challenge where robots require guidance and assistance, driving the need to bring the human touch back into a wide range of manufacturing, preparation and finishing processes.
Indian manufacturer of textile machine, SMEW, saw an increase in their production from
30 to 80-90 pieces per week; a 300% boost in production, with staff enjoying working alongside robots.3
Collaborative robots is where Universal Robots is doing exactly this, and really breaking new ground by enabling humans and robots to work side by side – literally – in the same workspace, be it fast food joint, hospital ward, specialist workshop or creative den.
Because cobots are versatile, easily programmable and safe, expensive, space-guzzling safety caging can almost always be done away with. Robotic capabilities can then move out of closed factories and limited-access spaces, to work side-by-side with us humans. Robotic capabilities become a personal tool that members of any work force can use to apply their distinctive creative skills more effectively, to provide greater human value.
This then leaves human employees free to apply their intangible skills and difficult-to-program creativity to more complex projects – or to notch up a considerable boost in productivity for their existing craft or skill.
At Universal Robots, the Industry 5.0 moniker is simply a question of cobots and skilled humans working closely together in myriads of different ways – many as yet unthought-of and unexplored – to create maximum human value by getting the best of both worlds and both types of capabilities.
Industry 5.0 – and the cobots at its heart – is about combining people’s creativity and craftsmanship with the speed, productivity and consistency of robots, and exploring how to make the very best of the many possible overlaps to mould hitherto unseen commercial and societal capabilities. From more people-centric, individually customized products to craftsmanship and specialist skills made much more widely available.
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Esben H. Østergaard, Director de Tecnología de Universal Robots, es responsable de la mejora de los robots UR existentes y del desarrollo de nuevos productos y uno de los creadores del producto. Desde 2001 a 2005 trabajó investigador y profesor asistente en robótica en la Universidad del Sur de Dinamarca, donde creó la base para la reinvención del robot industrial, que le llevó, ese mismo año, a fundar Universal Robots junto con dos de sus colegas de investigación. Desde entonces, Universal Robots ha obtenido alrededor de 65 patentes de la tecnología del robot. Además de su trabajo como CTO, Esben H. Østergaard participa en proyectos nacionales de investigación y en varias universidades en Dinamarca. En los inicios de su carrera, trabajó como científico investigador en USC Robotics Labs en el sur de California y también en AIST, en Tokio, como investigador visitante. Durante sus estudios en Informática, Física y Multimedia en la Universidad de Aarhus en Dinamarca, se centró exclusivamente en robótica y se convirtió en campeón mundial de fútbol robótico en 1998.