The use of robots and robotics technology is on the rise in all industries. Robotics technology is advancing, and the types of robots are changing, as well. According to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), “Robotized automation is flourishing… There is a clear parallel trend for greater deployment of industrial robots in enterprises removed from conventional application fields.” This is transforming industry as we know it in many ways. The IFR also reports, “The latest industrial robots are about to capture other industrial sectors that, to date, have remained undeveloped. Opportunities are huge.”
Yes, when it comes to using robotics, opportunity is knocking for all industrial sectors. Lately, with more intuitive software and control units and smaller overall footprints, industrial robots have become easier to use, and it’s become a simpler process to add robots to a collaborative manufacturing team where they safely work side-by-side with humans on production lines. An IFR board member says, “It’s steadily easier for users to work with industrial robots… allowing diverse tasks to be automated even by people without any experience in robotics. This opens up new potential applications for medium-sized companies in diverse industries.” One of those industries is the medical industry.
We’ve been seeing the medical industry being transformed by robotics for several years now: Medical screening, diagnostics and surgery are just some of the more “traditional” applications of robotics in the medical industry, and these applications have transformed the world of healthcare. The transformation of the medical industry will continue as robots with more abilities become more prominently used within the industry and in medical device manufacturing. Advancements in technology have allowed robots to be more “human-like.” For example, the latest generation of robots possess capabilities such as sensing, memory, dexterity, trainability and object recognition – and they’re able to interact and collaborate with humans. We’re seeing this new generation of collaborative robots working side-by-side with human operators who train them through physical demonstration, and industry insiders predict we’ll be seeing more of this in the very near future.
Robotics experts say all types of manufacturers, including medical device manufacturers, can benefit in a variety of ways by using robotics technology. Medical device manufacturing production lines are becoming more automated through the use of robotics. Some of these benefits include realizing cost savings, having a more flexible and productive manufacturing environment, and becoming more competitive in business, in general. A recent article on ManufacturingGlobal.com reports, “Manufacturers are also recognizing that being competitive means injecting greater flexibility into their production lines in order to satisfy consumer demand for products with shorter life cycles and more variety – robots can help on this front as well.”
So much is happening very quickly in the robotics industry – and in every industry touched by robotics and automation. IFR reports that sales of industrial robots increased 12% from 2012 to 2013, and the organization reports that 2014 is headed for similar growth. Reports also say the global medical robotics sector was estimated at almost $5.5 billion in 2011 and is expected to reach $13.6 billion in 2018.
When it comes to the robotics technology boom, the medical industry is no exception. Robotics technology and robots are quickly transforming the medical world and will continue to do so for many years to come.