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As states begin re-opening thismonth after more than 80 longdays of social restrictions andCOVID-slowing precautions, nearly every conversation seems tocenter on the return to “normal.”These conversations, particularlyregarding manufacturing, oftenseem to miss the point—they assume that the road forward is tocarry on as though nothing hashappened, as though the objective is to return directly to2019 processes and trajectories and start this year overagain. As much as I’d like a 2020 reboot, this is all, ofcourse, impossible.
The fixation on the idea of “normal” assumes thatmanufacturing is somehow static or fixed—that the products it produces or the tools, processes, and techniquesused to produce them are permanent or unchanging.Which is simply untrue. Every breakthrough or breakdown,every innovation or disaster experienced by this industrypushes it forward. It adapts and it changes, it creates newprocesses and new tools, new products and new tactics.That’s how manufacturing endures and survives.
The effect of COVID- 19 will be no different—it will changethe world and it will change the industry forever, butmostly in ways that will eventually be difficult to pinpointto the pandemic at all.
The trick now is to work out what some of these changes will be. For this, I keep looking back to those earlypost-recession days a decade ago.
In 2009, as the economy began to expand, everyoneexpected manufacturing to open its doors and beginhiring en masse—to get us back to pre-recession “normal”days. And that happened somewhat, but mostly what wesaw was massive capital spending on a new wave of“smart” equipment and tools, of automation and earlydata collecting tools. It heralded a technological awakening in U.S. manufacturing—the beginning of the fourthindustrial revolution and (eventually) the rise of the Industrial Internet of Things. Basically, the industry had justendured a disaster and needed to ensure that it had thetools required to return to growth and establish somestability in a still very shaky world.
This is exactly where we are again today. This new kindof disaster made clear exactly what kind of tools andtechnologies we need to remain steady. As we forge ournew path forward, I believe we will see a new volley ofinvestment along these lines—advanced automation, remote tracking and controls, and (finally) the full supplychain visibility and collaboration tools needed to keepessential products running no matter the circumstances.
The result, I believe, will be a new technology revolutionin manufacturing, one that will set a tone of change forthe next decade, long after the immediate effects of COVIDdry up. It will make manufacturing a stronger, more resilient industry than before, with the tools it needs to reallythrive in an uncertain world.
But this is not a “new normal” for the industry. This isexactly how manufacturing responds to every crisis, howit adapts and evolves fromevery set back. It’s asnormal as it gets.
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Robotic arms are often tasked with picking items notpresented in the same orientation, shape or size. Asopposed to other vision systems on the market, Eyesjust needs to take a single image for calibration andpart recognition and has an automatic focus to work atdifferent distances within the same application.
Eyes is ideal for sorting a wide variety of objects or
for CNC machine tending with metal parts that are de-
fined by outer shape, as well as many other pick-and-
place applications where orientation is important.
Eyes can be easily mounted on the robot wrist orexternally, and integrates seamlessly with all leadingcollaborative and light industrial robot arms throughOnRobot’s One System Solution, a unified mechanicaland communications interface based on the company’sQuick Changer, now an integrated part of all OnRobotproducts. The vision system directly interfaces withother OnRobot devices making it very easy to use Eyestogether with any of OnRobot’s grippers.
FOR A MEDIA KIT VISIT:
Grappling with the Post-COVID Future