Factories of the future: Transforming Industry Through Robotics Brings the Hope of a More Human Relationship to Work

A world in which workers no longer have to carry heavy loads, and where difficult handling tasks are performed by intelligent vehicles.

LYON, France--Recently published studies all agree on the big trends that are shaping smart factories or Industry 4.0:


* Sustainable industry that minimizes energy consumption and waste production while incorporating recycling in the value chain.
* Integration of digital technology. Emergence of 3D printers is taking part in this transformation, though we don't yet know exactly what their impact will be.
* Automation and "advanced" robotics are a given, with artificially intelligent systems, collaborative robots enabling automation of new tasks and use of robots at small and medium-sized companies. Digital and robotics transformation converge in intelligent systems that are flexible, with streamlined integration, improved programming and reduced implementation costs.

This inevitably leads to the question of the role human beings will play in the factory of the future, a question sometimes oversimplified and asked strictly in terms of impact on employment. As industry drives a large share of the value creation in the European economy, Europe clearly needs to "re-industrialize". Yet, the share of industry in the Continent's GDP has fallen from 20% to 15% over the past 15 years.

There is no simple answer to the question of "robotics and employment". We have to ready ourselves for a deep transformation of our society. In this case, why not adopt a more positive vision of how robotics can benefit industry?

Let us imagine a world where on factory assembly lines robots and humans work side-by-side, perfectly complementing one another. A world in which workers no longer have to carry heavy loads, and where difficult handling tasks are performed by intelligent vehicles. Originally a purely industrial solution, collaborative robots - "cobots"- are now becoming a solution for enhanced workstation ergonomics…

Featured Product

Universal Robots - Collaborative Robot Solutions

Universal Robots - Collaborative Robot Solutions

Universal Robots is a result of many years of intensive research in robotics. The product portfolio includes the UR5 and UR10 models that handle payloads of up to 11.3 lbs. and 22.6 lbs. respectively. The six-axis robot arms weigh as little as 40 lbs. with reach capabilities of up to 51 inches. Repeatability of +/- .004" allows quick precision handling of even microscopically small parts. After initial risk assessment, the collaborative Universal Robots can operate alongside human operators without cumbersome and expensive safety guarding. This makes it simple and easy to move the light-weight robot around the production, addressing the needs of agile manufacturing even within small- and medium sized companies regarding automation as costly and complex. If the robots come into contact with an employee, the built-in force control limits the forces at contact, adhering to the current safety requirements on force and torque limitations. Intuitively programmed by non-technical users, the robot arms go from box to operation in less than an hour, and typically pay for themselves within 195 days. Since the first UR robot entered the market in 2009, the company has seen substantial growth with the robotic arms now being sold in more than 50 countries worldwide.