OTC Insights Team
Established in 1963, OTC Industrial Technologies is one of the largest industrial distributors & service providers in the United States. We're committed to seeing industrial operations advance through expert technical solutions & unmatched support using our years of experience.
The robotics and manufacturing automation industries are always evolving. With 2022 coming to a close, it’s time to look forward and take note of some new and emerging trends for the new year.
10 Manufacturing Automation and Robotics Trends in 2023
At OTC, we keep our finger on the pulse of the industry and technology so that we can always provide our clients with the best solution, the latest tech, and the highest-quality service. Here are a few of the trends that we’re looking for in the coming year.
Robotic Assistance with Labor Shortages
With rising labor shortages in the manufacturing industry, many companies have started to look toward robotics to fill these necessary positions. While it can be difficult to find an automated system that performs the same level of work as a traditional employee, these options are becoming increasingly attractive with many companies struggling to find qualified professionals.
Adoption of Low-Code Systems
Low-code or no-code systems are automated solutions that require little or no coding experience to operate. Relying on an automated system can be a great choice for many manufacturers that find it difficult to fill high-skill positions. When working with low-code systems, it becomes easier for regular employees to maintain these advanced tools. However, skilled technicians are still required to repair and set up the devices.
Increased Prevalence of Cobots
Collaborative robots, or cobots, are automated systems that work in tandem with human employees. While many robotic systems operate independently of humans, cobots are built to work in the same location. With advanced algorithms governing their behavior, these systems keep the workplace safe when working with humans. They are designed to increase the productivity of humans while reducing the labor requirement of some work.
Robots as a Service
Renting or paying for essential services in manufacturing is a common practice, so it’s no surprise that robots as a service are a rising trend. If a business is not able to afford an entire automated system for its manufacturing facility, robotic services may be the answer. Renting automation systems for short-term use can help ease the strain of busy seasons or reduce the workload when struggling to hire new employees. It’s also a great way to test out a new automation system without incurring a risky capital expense.
Increased Reliance on Mobile Autonomous Robots
Mobile autonomous robots are common in large warehouses where they need to travel large distances to reach the necessary products. The use of these mobile autonomous robots in factories, production centers, and distribution facilities is increasing as workers are becoming more difficult to find and facility managers push to increase productivity to overcome supply chain and shipping challenges.
Evolving Safety Measures
As more companies embrace automated systems, expect safety regulations to evolve. These technological solutions offer a wide variety of benefits for businesses, but it’s important to ensure that they are safe before they can be implemented on a full-scale operation. As safety measures catch up to the advancements in these industries, expect new training and protocols that keep employees safe.
Improving Artificial Intelligence Functionality
Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most exciting areas of opportunity in manufacturing. It’s a promising source of solutions for the manufacturing industry, potentially providing better insight and data on production. As AI improves, we can expect it to not only increase production and safety on the shop floor, but also allow robots to perform more advanced and difficult processes. Expect to see more manufacturers adopting AI systems resulting in an increase in overall efficiency.
Widespread Drone Usage
Drones have already been utilized in small-scale tests by some companies, and we expect their prevalence to increase in the coming year. As drone technology continues to develop, we predict that these unmanned aircraft will be able to carry greater weight for longer distances and improve on many essential manufacturing operations. It’s another way manufacturers are leveraging existing technology to complete work faster and with better efficiency.
Better Conversational AI
Conversational AI is commonly found on the internet in the form of chatbots and automated customer support services, but it may soon find its way into the manufacturing industry. While robotic systems continue to grow more advanced, it becomes beneficial for regular employees to be able to operate these devices. With conversational AI, manufacturing professionals may soon be able to control these devices with simple voice commands, with no need for advanced training or technical skills. AI should help many companies overcome the technical skill gap in production.
Currently, automated manufacturing systems take the form of large robotic arms, small drones, and self-driving systems. In the coming years, we expect humanoid robots to become common. These personified systems may be better able to adapt to conditions that have been traditionally designed around human workers and might offer greater flexibility in terms of what work they can perform.
Let the Experts at OTC Guide Your Business in the Coming Year
There’s a lot to be excited about in the future of automation and manufacturing.
We’ve covered a few of the advancing trends to mark the beginning of an exciting new year, but managing all these developments can be overwhelming. If you want to ensure that you have the best possible systems at the most competitive prices, contact OTC today. Our team is standing by to help address any concerns you have about adopting an automated system and can work with you to understand your exact needs. Don’t wait to learn more about how we can help, give us a call.