4 predictions that will shape industrial robotics in 2024 – infoPLC

Anders Billesø Beck, VP Strategy and Innovation at Universal Robots, explains four trends in robotics and automation in 2024

As the year draws to a close, it’s time to analyze the trends that marked 2023 and predict what 2024 will bring for the world of robotics and automation.

2023 was an exciting year for innovation. The emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies such as generative AI has attracted global attention in the automation sector. However, the implementation of generative artificial intelligence in the business environment is still in its infancy, and questions about how to best use this technology continue to arise.

Digital transformation is a continuous process, so it can be expected that the most innovative trends of this year will be decisive in the next year as well. But how will these trends affect robotization and automation And what can manufacturers predict for 2024?

Anders Billesø Beckvice president of strategy and innovation at Universal Robots, presents four predictions for 2024:

1. AI will set a new pace in the development of robotics and automation

Artificial intelligence is changing the world of software development, making it cheaper, faster and more efficient. Software is a key part of automation, and artificial intelligence enables developers to create more customized and optimized software solutions for different tasks and challenges. If software development is often like digging a shovel, introducing artificial intelligence is like adding two horses and a plow to the process. However, automation expertise will continue to be a valuable and scarce resource in AI’s journey to revolutionize manufacturing.

It was interesting and even surprising to see how artificial intelligence transformed the lives of office workers before it entered the processes of most factories. In this sense, we predict that by 2024, the benefits of machine learning will reach many more companies. Artificial intelligence is already a reality: many of our partners are developing applications that use this technology to enable our robots to develop more complex and diverse functions. For example, artificial intelligence allows robots to perceive like humans, anticipate variations, move parts precisely, adapt to changing environments, and learn from their own experiences. Over time, these capabilities will lead to unprecedented flexibility, quality and reliability in manufacturing.

2. Advances in robotics software will cause us to share and reuse more

Software is the link that connects users to their robotic counterparts: digital connectivity that goes beyond physical interaction.

Advances in software development are opening up a new dimension in the way we work together: connecting people with robots. 2024 will see the development of software that will mean reaching new levels of sharing and reuse. Imagine a world where instead of thinking the wheel, we leverage existing software assets like components, interfaces, and algorithms across different applications. This principle already supports our UR+ partner ecosystem, optimizing innovation and reducing time to market. We look forward to seeing how this trend develops in the coming year.

3. Companies merge IT and OT using data to improve processes

The future of manufacturing is closely linked to the integration of information technology (IT) and process control technology (OT), as data will drive innovation and efficiency. Studies show that the manufacturing industry has been at the forefront of adopting cloud-based software services. We’re already seeing some customers use them today to improve quality, profitability and predictability. Because of this, we predict that in 2024 we will see the growth of data-driven manufacturing and logistics systems.

The potential of the cloud goes far beyond its ability to collect and store data and connect machines. This remote server usage model finds its transformative power as cloud software services connect people and machines to help manufacturers simplify complex processes and make smarter decisions.

The benefits of this digital evolution are significant. Remote access to production data allows you to respond quickly to problems and support continuous automation improvements. In a context where dynamic systems are essential, cloud technologies offer the latest security and next-generation services. Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) companies are highlighting this development as it enables them to deliver greater efficiency and reduced downtime by visualizing overall equipment efficiency (OEE) and predictive maintenance.

Through 2024, manufacturers will benefit from these advances, achieving higher quality, reduced downtime, better predictability and cost optimization. Making this transition becomes a strategic imperative that makes the transition to high-volume, diverse manufacturing, resilient supply chains, competitive use of data and meeting sustainability goals viable.

4. Logistics will be the focus of robotics

At the beginning of 2023, Interact Analysis predicted an increase in the number of robot installations in all industries. The most notable area was logistics with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 46% over the period 2023-2027. It is no surprise that the market for non-industrial applications is growing rapidly.

As in the manufacturing industry, many logistics companies are facing severe labor shortages. At the same time, the pressure on their operations is increasing due to globalization, e-commerce and more complex multi-channel supply chains. In 2024, more logistics, warehouse and distribution centers will move to automation to provide services faster and with greater accuracy.

For example, a logistics company that Universal Robots works with has revolutionized its delivery center with collaborative robots. Automation meant a 500% increase in efficiency and greater accuracy in orders. The implemented automation system, capable of processing thousands of orders per day, particularly excelled during peak business periods such as Black Friday. The robot handled more than 4,400 orders that day, and only a small human team was needed to replenish.

Robots and the intelligent use of data are poised to revolutionize the logistics business across the value chain, from inbound shipments to transportation operations.

The pace of robotics development remains impressive – we look forward to another exciting year of progress.

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