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The role of robots in post-COVID South Africa

Home Engineering Automation & Control The role of robots in post-COVID South Africa

STRINGENT health and safety measures have always been a concern for manufacturers, but many organisations will need to redouble their efforts to meet the new requirements in a post-COVID-19 world.

That’s according Yaskawa Southern Africa Chairman, Terry Rosenberg, who said robotics in South Africa is already operating at international standards.

“Since our products come from an international source, they already adhere to the strictest health, safety and quality guidelines. As a result, we insist on the same standards in our operations,” Rosenberg said.

“When a client purchases equipment from us, we recommend they take the mechanical and electrical safety facilities we offer as part of the robotic solution, to ensure safe and responsible machine usage. Further to this, we offer prescribed training for the safe functional use of the equipment once in the production environment.”

Globally, the automotive industry accounts for a significant portion of every robot produced. According to Statista, the automotive robotics market is the second-largest industrial robotics market. It’s no different in South Africa, where the sector is one of the largest users of robotics solutions.

But Rosenberg has seen growing adoption of robotics in another key sector.

“We’ve seen growth in the food manufacturing industry, particularly in the material handling aspect of the production line where robots are used for the packing and palletising of large volumes of products.

“When there are mass quantities and heavy lifting, robots are capable of performing the functions that might be too dangerous or impossible for humans to execute.”

He said the food manufacturing industry is also cognisant of the impact of the 2017 listeriosis outbreak and now COVID-19. “There’s a need to increase the cleanliness of operations and remove the need for human contact. And this can be achieved through the use of robotic solutions.”

One of the most common misconceptions about robotics is that it’s strictly aimed at large enterprises. However, Rosenberg said he’s seen a substantial interest and increase in the usage of robots in the SMME sector recently.

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