Robotics systems are thus becoming an economically viable alternative to human labor in more and more industries. A human welder today earns around $25 per hour (including benefits), while the equivalent operating cost per hour for a robot is around $8 when installation, maintenance, and the operating costs of all hardware, software, and peripherals are amortized over a five-year depreciation period. In 15 years, that gap will widen even more dramatically. The operating cost per hour for a robot doing similar welding tasks could plunge to as little as $2 when improvements in its performance are factored in.
Source: bcg.perspectives – How Robots Will Redefine Competitiveness
Emphasis added by me.
Materials science engineers have developed a “metallic glass” gear system that operates at very low temperatures, without lubrication, and provides high strength.
“Metallic glass” has the strength of a metal but sigh the amorphous structure of a glass. Further, parts made from the materials can be injected molded, similar to how plastic parts are made.
Applications include many kinds of robotics, and especially space systems that must operate in extreme temperature conditions.
Source: Metallic glass gears make for graceful robots — ScienceDaily
‘Some polymer fiber materials, including highly oriented nylon, have an unusual property: When heated, “they shrink in length but expand in diameter,” Mirvakili says, and this property has been harnessed to make some linear actuator devices. But to turn that linear shrinking motion into bending typically requires a mechanism such as a pulley and a takeup reel, adding extra size, complexity, and expense. The MIT team’s advance was to directly harness the motion without requiring extra mechanical parts.’
Source: Nylon fibers made to flex like muscles | MIT News
Spotted by me, recently:
As labor and benefits costs rise – and tech costs fall – we will see much more of this.
McDonald’s is adding self order kiosks and mobile order apps – which will reduce the number of staff needed to process orders at the front. See story at Money.CNN.com.
This is total awesomeness! The application of robotics to assist those subject to physical disabilities:
It’s not only engineers who work in robotics
Source: It’s not only engineers who work in robotics | Robohub
My wife recently retired from nursing. She had worked as a Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse, working with spinal cord injury patients, and sometimes with traumatic brain injury patients. She tells me that tremendous advances are being made toward spinal cord regrowth and repair – this is still a ways out but is another exciting development for those with these types of injuries.
Amazon uses 45,000 small robots at about one-third of its U.S. warehouses to automate order processing. The robots look like bread boxes on wheels, lifting modular shelves stuffed with products and carrying the shelves to workers who pick out pieces.
Source: America’s Dazzling Tech Boom Has a Downside: Not Enough Jobs – WSJ
Source: ‘Industry 4.0’ comes to B.C.: Smart machines and Internet of Things change the workplace
IOT changes everything for service and industrial businesses. As described at the link, IOT enables smarter machines/automation. But it also means deploying sensors throughout a “work environment” to monitor and detect safety issues, to identify productivity issues, to detect quality problems, to optimize production and much more.
Ultimately, it means P&G’s signature products, such as Tide detergent and Pampers diapers, will be made in fewer, but larger manufacturing plants, and ones with more robots and automation that reduce personnel.
Source: Procter & Gamble consolidates plants, adds automation
Automation systems such as packaging and labeling systems, medication dispensing system, storage and retrieval systems, table-top counters and compounding systems are employed in order improve the efficacy of regular jobs within pharmacies. The market is expected to grow owing to features including system integration that increases productivity and time to clinicians for patient care, thereby lowering medication errors.
Source: Pharmacy Automation Devices Market Worth $8.99 Billion By 2020