The idea that automation and robotics would eventually change not only the way we work but what we consider work, is not a new sentiment. And while the heights of expectation have risen and fallen over the years, there is no doubt that even today, a business committed and capable of leveraging automation has the potential to completely transform itself, both with regards to revenue and in output.
While we may still be a few years away from a full-scale robotics revolution, a number of companies are redefining our perception of all that is possible through automation and what robots are capable of doing, today. Here, Innovation Enterprise highlights five of those companies transforming what is possible.
FANUC is one of the most influential robotics companies in the world and it specializes in the manufacture and installation of industrial robots. It has been one of the biggest propellers of factory automation for almost 60 years and its production lines have some 2,000 robots assembling and testing other robots meant for the assembly line. FANUC also happens to be one of the few companies that develops and manufactures every single major component it distributes, be it hardware or software, in-house.
FANUC is actually a group of companies initially based in Japan that has since expanded into the FUNAC America Corporation based in Michigan and the FANUC Europe Corporation based in Luxembourg. The company was once a part of Fujitsu, the Japanese electronics company, and FANUC itself is even an acronym for Fuji Automatic NUmerical Control.
Based in Washington, Fortive is an industrial conglomerate company specializing in industrial technology and professional instrumentation. Originating as part of the Danaher Corporation, it split from Danaher in 2016 to become its own publicly traded company.
Since then, the company has spread into more than 40 different countries and is now comprised of more than 20 businesses that cover the spectrum of robotics and automation. It has made significant innovations in the realms of field instrumentation, transportation, sensing, product realization, automation, and specialty and franchise distribution.
Unlike the two previous entries on our list, both of which have quite broad automation offerings, Intuitive Surgical specializes in the manufacture and design of medical robots. It strictly focuses on robots that can perform surgeries as noninvasively as possible. Its flagship product, the Da Vinci Surgical System, has assisted in more than 5 million surgeries over the past 20 years.
Formerly part of a non-profit research institute called SRI International, its first prototype of a robotic surgical arm garnered it funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), an agency of the US States Department of Defense. Since then, it has installed more than 4,000 surgical systems worldwide with over half of those in the US.
Founded in 1981 and based in Massachusetts, Cognex sits among the leading lights in machine vision systems, software and sensors used to automate everything from defect detection and product assembly, to guiding other robots on assembly lines.
Machine vision enables technologies to extract information from images and therefore has a number of useful applications in automation that save both time and significantly improve accuracy. Considering it gives machinery the ability to effectively see, it is a crucial aspect of automation and Cognex's technologies enable many industrial and non-industrial operations.
Intelligrated was already a successful automated material specialist in the design, manufacture and installation of factory and warehouse tech prior its acquisition by US engineering giant Honeywell for $1.5bn in 2016.
Its portfolio of conveyors, palletizers and robotics are a common sight in warehouses all across the US. Since its acquisition, Honeywell Intelligrated has become a significant player in the supply chain automation technology sector and offers an all-round, single-source for automation solutions to a myriad of manufacturing, warehousing and distribution challenges.
To find out more about developments and trends within the robotics and automation industry, visit DATAx New York on December 6–7, 2018.