Robot Safety expert Ryan Braman shares his annual predictions
TÜV Rheinland, a leading international provider of testing, inspections, and certification services has released their top three predictions for the robotics industry in 2021. This forecast reflects the consumer and manufacturing trends brought about by the pandemic, which overall have demanded increased automation in supply chains, more robots on warehouse and retail floors, and advances in communications technology.
Prediction 1: More Automation in the Supply Chain
Throughout 2020, it was evident that many supply chains could not handle a significant increase in demand for products quickly. Everyday goods such as hand sanitizer, rubber gloves, and toilet paper became "hot ticket" items because they were scarce. Combined with a national labor shortage, companies were hard-pressed to meet the demands of a pandemic-era market. In response to that issue, manufacturers will invest heavily in traditional and collaborative robotics technologies. While many production lines are already fairly automated, companies will still strive to improve efficiency in all stages of the production line: from handling raw materials at the start, to warehousing at the end.
Prediction 2: Robots for Order and Delivery Fulfillment
Consumers have developed a taste for getting product orders quickly and conveniently delivered to their doorstep, or deposited in their car trunk without even turning off the engine. This is going to drive retailers to invest in warehousing and order fulfillment automation technology. In other words, there will be increasing demand for fleets of mobile robots and large-scale robotic order fulfillment machines. Mobile robots will soon become visible on retail floors, and even possibly driving down the sidewalk to deliver the item you ordered only hours before.
Prediction 3: Sensing and Communications Technology
Advances in sensing and communications technology are also likely to take giant leaps forward in the near future. Due to the industry demand to automate quickly, manufacturers of Lidar, camera, radar, and other sensing equipment will see increased investment and implementation. These technologies will improve robot capability and efficiency, but they may provide a challenge to testing laboratories and standards committees, which will have to keep up with the tech to ensure proper regulation. Combined with the rollout of 5G and advanced fleet management systems, the boom in communications technology will enable significantly improved data transfer rates, connect ability, and oversight.
"The challenges of the pandemic only emphasized how necessary robotics technology is in addressing the needs of our world," says Ryan Braman, US Director of Commercial Products at TÜV Rheinland and leading robotics safety expert. "More than ever, consumers are stressing desires for immediacy and convenience. Manufacturers and retailers know that investment in tech will be key in keeping up with these demands."
In addition to the changing consumer landscape, major robotics-industry standards such as UL 3300, UL 3100, ISO 10218-1, and ISO 10218-2 are undergoing significant revisions, and are likely to update in the near future. To learn more about how TÜV Rheinland supports industry compliance, visit our Robotics page.
About TÜV Rheinland:
TÜV Rheinland is a global leader in independent inspection services, founded nearly 150 years ago. The group maintains a worldwide presence of more than 20,000 people. The independent experts stand for quality and safety for people, technology and the environment in nearly all aspects of life. TÜV Rheinland inspects technical equipment, products and services, oversees projects, and helps to shape processes and information security for companies. Its experts train people in a wide range of careers and industries. To this end, TÜV Rheinland employs a global network of approved labs, testing and education centers. Since 2006, TÜV Rheinland has been a member of the United Nations Global Compact to promote sustainability and combat corruption. Website: www.tuv.com