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Revolutionising manufacturing: The impact of machine learning in robotics

Home Engineering Automation & Control Revolutionising manufacturing: The impact of machine learning in robotics

THE integration of machine learning (ML) into robotics has the potential to revolutionise many industries, in particular, the manufacturing sector, says Andrew Crackett, managing director at Yaskawa South Africa. Productivity, efficiency, precision, and flexibility are of the essence in this industry and its incorporation into production processes is increasing at a rapid pace.

Yaskawa South Africa, among others, is at the forefront of embracing this transformative technology to optimise innovation and propel the manufacturing industry forward.

Crackett emphasises the role that ML plays in manufacturing, saying: “Machine learning in automation and robotics allows for a significant increase in productivity in manufacturing processes, which would undoubtedly optimise most operations, leading to a higher degree of competitiveness.” One of the key advantages of incorporating ML into robotics is the ability to enhance the automation capabilities already in place. When considering traditional robotic systems, units operate based on pre-programmed instructions. This has limited their adaptability to dynamic environments, however, by integrating ML into production processes, robotic systems can now analyse vast amounts of data, learn from previous tasks, and use intelligent decision-making autonomously. This increases their versatility, makes them more attuned to detecting system flaws, and optimises performance without the need for human intervention.

Additionally, advanced algorithms in ML facilitate intuitive human-robot interaction. “Collaborative robots (or cobots), like Yaskawa’s Motoman HC Series of robots, not only enhance productivity but also foster a safer and more collaborative manufacturing environment,” explains Crackett.

ML is also able to drive continuous improvement in manufacturing operations. Through the use of sensors, cameras, and other sources, ML algorithms are able to identify patterns, predict system failures, and optimise maintenance. “This predictive maintenance approach is able to reduce downtime and maintenance costs, and prolongs the lifespan of machinery,” he says. Moreover, ML enables adaptive manufacturing, where production processes can be adjusted in response to changing demands. This versatility strengthens competitiveness in a fast-paced global market.

However, unlocking the full potential of ML in robotics and automation requires a concerted effort to overcome various challenges. “Data quality, security concerns, and ethical considerations are among the more critical issues that need to be taken into consideration to ensure the responsible use of ML-optimised robotic systems,” notes Crackett.

Machine learning in robotics and automation in the manufacturing industry represents a transformative force that has the power to revolutionise the industry. By leveraging its capabilities, companies can drive significant advancements in efficiency, productivity, and competitiveness. As industries embrace this paradigm shift, the future of manufacturing holds boundless opportunities for innovation and growth.

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