Robots, sustainability, and efficiency

Robots, sustainability, and efficiency

Each sector that opens space for robotics becomes more sustainable, flexible, and efficient. Perhaps we do not perceive it but many of the products that we use every day were manufactured thanks to the intervention of a robot. However, there are still disciplines reluctant to incorporate robots as part of their daily lives and they miss out on the advances that have been achieved –for example- in construction, mining, and logistics thanks to their use. In these fields, it is possible to speed up the movements of materials, make faster transfers and preserve the safety of employees who are no longer in need of activities or tasks that could compromise their physical integrity.

Therefore, it is not surprising that some companies are considering the option of replacing their delivery people with ground or aerial robots.

Even robots are presented as a solution for missions outside the Earth, supporting the crew in maintenance, assembly, and manufacturing tasks in orbit. GITAI Japan Inc created a robotic arm called Nanoracks-GITAI capable of pressing buttons, flipping switches, and connecting cables. In the same way, this technology can be extrapolated to difficult and / or dangerous environments, which makes it really useful in cases of disasters, deep-sea excavation, exploration in nuclear power plants, etc. 

In other areas such as beekeeping and agriculture, the presence of robotics is also beginning to be seen. Such is the case of the Beewaze company, which monitors critical variables in hives to support beekeepers using robotic arms that resemble human functions. In agriculture, a robot was recently unveiled that – combined with artificial intelligence and laser technology – removes large amounts of weeds (weeds) without disturbing the soil and minimizing the use of herbicides, which favors the environment.

Medicine is not far behind in the race to be more accurate, efficient, and effective. In this framework, surgical robots provide support and guide during interventions, help to perform procedures safely, which translates into higher quality care for patients. In that order, Dr. Peña González -oncologist surgeon- director of Uros Associats at the Teknon Medical Center (Barcelona), used for the first time during an intervention the most advanced surgical robot of the moment: the Da Vinci Xi HD. You may be wondering how robotic surgery works and the answer is simple: it is a very advanced minimally invasive procedure in which – in the case of prostate cancer removal – an incision is not even required. The precision that the robot provides allows to save the nerves of sexual function.  

Without a doubt, Spain is fully committed to robotics. It is not by chance that the American agency DARPA awarded the Spanish Hilario Tomé with a prize of $ 750,000, which helped him to invest in his company called Keybotic, precisely responsible for developing the first autonomous four- legged robot capable of carrying out industrial applications: create 3D maps, inspect spaces with potential risk for people, facilitate logistics in different industries and support the surveillance of large areas. This robot will be for sale and / or rent for industrial companies or instances that require it to search for people in the event of landslides or catastrophes.

Something very positive about 2021 is that this year, according to data from the Association for the Advancement of Automation (A3), industrial robotics has been on the rise and from January to September 29,000 robots have been sold with a value of 10,480 million dollars in the United States, surpassing the record that was registered in 2017. This increase compared to the year marked by the pandemic that produced a decline in sales, is now explained by the shortage of employees. In the metallurgy sector, the rise has been 183%, while in many other companies that manufacture and offer products are beginning to use robots to classify packages.  

It is estimated that there are currently 3 million industrial robots around the world and that their use is now much easier thanks to software with which they can be programmed easily, cheaply and quickly. This milestone marks a step forward in the fight for sustainable development in most companies. Nobody can ignore that robotics –as it has become more profitable- has generated optimal benefits in sustainability, thanks to lower costs, manufacturing, cycle time, space savings, reduction of downtime, quick start-up, maximum energy savings, waste reduction, among other things.

Three companies are producing very favorable changes related to robots: the ABB company does it through solutions in sustainable transport, renewable energy, and infrastructure that contributes to the environment; the Kuka company is committed to environmental concepts through its systems engineering, new technology and ecological products providing energy efficiency in its line of industrial robots KR QUANTEC, and the Fanuc corporation is dedicated to working towards the reduction of waste and recycling as well such as the improvement and control of chemical substances and minimum energy consumption.

Talking about sustainability implies referring to the production without pollutants, to the conservation of energy and natural resources, economically viable, providing security to employees, communities, and consumers. In this sense, using the resource of robots and investing in their incorporation in companies is a sustainable measure that, above all, provides greater security in the work environment for workers who no longer must undergo risky tasks.  

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