ZEN AND THE ART OF COBOT MAINTENANCE - Global Trade Magazine
  September 3rd, 2021 | Written by

ZEN AND THE ART OF COBOT MAINTENANCE

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  • Robotics can assist staff members with learning efficient routes through warehouses to pick and pack products.
  • Innovative robotics and automation technology are helping organizations get more done, in less time.
  • With robotics comes new requirements for the maintenance team.

Innovative robotics and automation technology are helping organizations get more done, in less time and with limited facility space. 

Warehousing, distribution centers and logistics companies are some of the organizations that are seeing big benefits with robotics.

According to the 2020 MHI Annual Industry Report, 67 percent of survey respondents said they believed robotics had the power to disrupt their industry and offer a competitive advantage for their organization.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that 39 percent of surveyed companies said they’ve adopted robotics and automation. An additional 73 percent of those surveyed said they plan to add more robotics or start implementing robotics in the next five years.

Benefits of robotics and automation

There’s no doubt that robotics and automation can help organizations meet their mounting needs to standardize production and overcome challenges related to high staff turnover rates. With robotics, you can increase your facility’s outputs without expanding your physical footprint or facility size.

Robotics can help organizations with staffing challenges by offering the following:

-High staff turnover rates often mean added expenses in training and keeping a facility running at full capacity. Robotics can help reduce this fluctuation in staffing by offering a consistent and reliable work source.

-As warehouses, logistics companies and distribution centers look to streamline operations, it often means increasing the weight of fulfillment carts. This puts added strain on workers and can lead to workers’ compensation claims and costly time off, lowering production. Robotics help streamlines product picking and packing activities without straining employees physically.

-Robotics can assist staff members with learning efficient routes through warehouses to pick and pack products. With artificial intelligence, robotics can map out a way to efficiently pick and pack products throughout a facility. This can offer heightened job satisfaction for workers that use “cobots” (collaborative robots) to assist them in their daily activities, allowing them to be more efficient.

But robotics offer more than just improved staffing and a reduction in fluctuations from staff turnover. Robotics can also help facilities do more with the same amount of space. Some ways robotics help with stronger outputs despite capacity limits include:

-Better inventory management allows your organization to automate the inventory process so you have to keep less on hand.

-Set aisle sizes based on robotic width and smart technology that tells machines when another robot is in an aisle. That way, you reduce the need for two-way traffic in an aisle so you can shrink the aisle size and make better use of the space.

-Reduction in need for additional workspaces, such as electronic scales, because it’s built into the robot’s system.

Maintenance for robotics and automation

But with robotics comes new requirements for the maintenance team. 

Preventative maintenance becomes increasingly more important as keeping equipment up and running is crucial to your business operations.

If the robots fail regularly, you could experience worse staff turnover rates than you did without the technology as staff members get frustrated and tired of the loss in productivity. Your organization’s agility and ability to respond quickly to requests become more important than ever as you begin to rely more heavily on robotics.

To add robotics to your warehouse, logistics or distribution center operations, you need a maintenance plan that includes:

-Condition monitoring: Prepare a dashboard that shows each robot’s condition and expected date for new parts to prevent breakdowns.

-Work order requests: Allow staff members to make a work order request and have a process for assigning those work orders to your maintenance team for fast service.

-Reporting: Run reports that help your maintenance team see how often each robot requires maintenance so you can project and anticipate that maintenance in the future to avoid costly breakdowns.

Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) help warehouses, logistics companies and distribution centers operate efficiently while taking advantage of the competitive advantage robotics can offer. 

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For more than 30 years, Eagle Technology Inc. has worked with various industries. The Mequon, Wisconsin-based company offers clients the ability to boost productivity, control costs and maintain compliance, all from its web and mobile-enabled CMMS software, Proteus MMX.