I love podcasts. While I haven’t been a long time listener to them, I have jumped on the wagon. I started in after following Mr. Ballen from YouTube when he started his and then did about the most mid 30’s white girl thing possible and binged Crime Junkie; but from there I have been listening to a lot of different automation/robot podcasts.
Speaking of, have you listened to UR’s new podcast ReAutomated? Chris is a pretty engaging host. The Robot Industry Podcast is good, but it really depends on the guest how engaging that one is, and The Automation Ladies is always cool to check out for a little different viewpoint. Mom has been on a kick trying to get both of us to start one, but I am on the fence. What do you think?
The D’s of Robotization
Anyway, through these podcasts I have been on a “__ D’s of Robotization” kick because I had apparently lived under a rock and thought that Joe Campbell of Universal Robots was SO smart when I heard him say it. However, I leave it blank because for some it is 3 D’s, some it is 5, and I think we are heading towards something like the 27 D’s of Robotization where each person just adds in whatever words they want to make themselves feel relevant on LinkedIn.
But if you live under a rock like me, the D’s of Robotization are kinda of the quick way of saying the tasks that we need to focus on automating. We automate the dull, dirty, and dangerous tasks first. I think that is the best list. Though, I have seen people add on demanding, delicate, difficult, or dear. I could add depressing or debilitating if I wanted too; but I am a huge fan of alliteration and we should just not go down that road because simple is best and really, dull, dirty, and dangerous covers a whole lot of ground.
I have blogged about robots and cobots being to the manufacturing industry what tractors were to farming before. However, since I have been researching safety for my presentation with IMEC in August all of it is at the top of mind.
Wow. That is a really long introduction into today’s topic. Dear God. I should start a recipe blog…
Advancements in technology make manufacturing safer. On a high level, that is obvious, but let’s dig in a bit. HOW does automation make manufacturing safer?
Obviously, things like getting rid of steam boilers or the design of static dissipative conveyors or explosion resistant motors have greatly reduced the overall risk of whole plants exploding on the reg. From what my mom says, when she was growing up that was much more common. So, there are a lot of advancements in safety caused by improved technologies that I take for granted. But even in my working lifetime there are some great examples.
Improvements in automation reduce risk
Robots and cobots handle tasks involving extreme temperatures, toxic substances, or heavy machinery. Thereby reducing the exposure of workers to hazardous tasks. For example, if you have a robot loading a press if something goes wrong and your EOAT is crushed it is much better than a person losing an arm. So not only is the process faster in many cases, but it is also so much safer.
Automation improves ergonomics
It eliminates or helps compensate for physically demanding tasks that lead to musculoskeletal disorders and injuries. By automating repetitive or strenuous activities, technology reduces the physical strain on workers. Which promotes better ergonomics and reduces the likelihood of work-related injuries.
Advancements in automation promote safer environments
Take cobots for example. There was this absolutely crushing episode of Mr. Ballen where he was talking about a new employee that hadn’t been given proper training and was actually killed by an industrial robot. That doesn’t happen with a collaborative robot. That episode just gutted me. Maybe it is actually being in the automation space, but it hit so close to home. I spent the whole time cursing under my breath and wanting that plant to install a light curtain in addition to the hard guarding. Maybe a pressure mat. Something. Anything. We have so many options available that that shouldn’t be a thing anymore.
On that note, a slight tangent, guys, please, if you attach a katana on the end of a cobot. It. Is. No. Longer. Collaborative. Just because the arm is equipped with sensors and safety features that allow it to detect human presence doesn’t mean the EOAT or the process is inherently safe. Don’t get cocky and let a false sense of security cause a time loss incident. We need to automate the dull so that work is more engaging because complacency kills, folks!
Putting the soapbox aside, let’s briefly cover safety sensors and systems. Modern manufacturing facilities integrate advanced sensors, cameras, and safety systems like area scanners or pressure mats in when they design lines. These technologies detect potential hazards, monitor equipment performance, and provide real-time feedback to ensure safe working conditions. They are there, not to make work more difficult, but to prevent the injuries that can come about when guarding is easy to circumvent for convenience.
Technology has improved safety in manufacturing, and it is only getting better.
While it requires careful planning and ongoing evaluation; adequate training, maintenance, and regular updates ensure the effective and safe operation of automated systems and improve safety and quality of life. If you want to learn more come see the great presenters at the Safe + Sound event in Olney on August 9th!