Massachusetts-based Soft Robotics’ software and robotics machine called mGripAI is sorting artificial chicken into trays for packaging at the Automation Conference in Detroit, hosted by the Association for the Advancement of Automation.
Detroit — The automotive and logistics industries are no stranger to robots.
They’re one of the biggest investors in automation in the American economywhich uses robots to sort packages, transport goods, and help build vehicles.
However, other industries where robotics has not yet taken hold could represent potential investment opportunities and expansion areas for automation companies in the years to come.
Automation industry guru Jeff Bernstein, president of the Association for Advancement of Automation, is intrigued by these emerging areas. His industry group represents his more than 1,000 global companies involved in robotics, machine vision, motion his controls, motors and related technologies.
Bernstein, who recently received a prestigious award in recognition of his more than 40-year career in the industry, said automation and robotics do “boring, dirty and dangerous work” that people don’t always want to do. I believe that it can be of great help to
Association for Advancement of Automation Chairman Jeff Bernstein (middle right), recipient of the Joseph F. Engelberger Robotics Award for his 40-plus years in the industry.
Photo courtesy of Japan Automation Promotion Association
“If you look at what’s driving automation in a lot of industries, it’s a talent shortage,” he said last week at an automation convention in Detroit.
He said labor shortages, especially in manufacturing, are the main factor driving the growth of automation.
Here are three industries Bernstein predicts will be automated next:
The agricultural industry is already testing or using various automated, if not autonomous, technologies to make work more efficient and safer.Helps reduce costs
tractor manufacturers Dear & CompanyFor example, it provides a range of automatic assistance functions such as turning and guiding crop row lines. According to the company’s website, Deere is working on autonomous tractors that “can see, think and work for themselves,” giving farmers time to complete other tasks at the same time.
Other automation technologies for agriculture include drones that can spray pesticides on crops, remotely controlled tractors, automated harvesting systems, and other data and logistics farming apps.
Deere’s autonomous 8R tractor
Harvesting and sorting chicken parts is exactly the kind of tedious, dirty and dangerous job that automation can help, Bernstein said.
At the automation convention, at least two companies exhibited food-sorting robots whose capabilities included identifying what cuts would fit on a packaging tray.
Beyond efficiency benefits, advocates point to health and safety benefits as well.
“This machine doesn’t let you sneeze, it doesn’t rub your face, it doesn’t let your hair fall on anything, so it’s very safe. It will decrease,” said Anthony Romeo.Massachusetts-based company representative Cognex Corporation Soft Robotics, one of the companies working on sorting food and chicken parts, also participated in the competition.
Tyson Foods employee
Greg Smith | Corbis Saba | Getty Images
In 2021, Tyson Foods said it will invest more than $1.3 billion in new automation capabilities by 2024 to increase yields, reduce both labor costs and associated risks, and ultimately realize savings for meat processors. .
Tyson CEO Donnie King told investors last month that the company “continues to invest in automation and digital capabilities to seize opportunities to improve yields.”
He said the company has 50 fully automated chicken deboning lines.
Pilgrim’s PrideThe company, one of the world’s largest poultry producers, also announced significant investments in automation, including more than $100 million announced in 2021.
Automation in healthcare can be achieved in many different cases, from the delivery of goods and personal medicines to the bedside, to the cleaning and disinfection of tools.
“It can be done robotically,” Bernstein said. “If you’re having trouble finding talent, that could be a good solution. There are many of those, and of course drug discovery and other applications.”
One notable company currently entering the space is Pittsburgh-based robotics company Aethon. The company is making strides in the healthcare field with his autonomous mobile robot called TUG. The robot can move independently in the hospital, according to Company website.
The company says the TUG can also be programmed to avoid obstacles and operate elevators.
This is an example of an AMR (autonomous mobile robot). This is the type of vehicle that can perform several different delivery tasks, which Bernstein calls “a hot area of automation” right now.