Humans & Robots Becoming Team Players

In today‘s competitive world, errors and delays in order fulfillment can have a lasting negative impact on a brand. Add to that rising costs, changing consumer habits, the trend towards customization that requires additional resources, and competition pressure – these are just few factors that present new challenges for businesses these days. Businesses that are not going to implement any changes to the way how they operate risk to be left behind and the cost of inaction in this case can easily exceed the price of a modernization project. But how many businesses are ready to adapt to changes fast?

According to a study conducted by the analysts at Gartner, there will be 26 billion networked devices worldwide in the year 2020 that will be able to exchange data among themselves interoperably. In addition to the expected sales revenue of USD300 billion, this also entails major challenges for processing the enormous quantities of data in the Cloud. Applying the same principle, should operations these days not also be conducted in a more intelligent way? In this case thanks to flexible, adaptive solutions, businesses will remain efficient even in the face of constantly changing clients’ requirements.

And today, robots are a key element of such changes. The rapid development of robotics will permanently change the world, just as the Internet and information technology have done in all areas of life. Initially designed merely as a universal machine to boost productivity, the robot has increasingly developed, with its ever greater sensitivity and mobility, into a colleague that supports humans in their work.

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This evolutionary step can only succeed, however, if we finally break down the barriers between the digital and real worlds. Just as robotic colleagues have become a matter of course in industrial settings, they will also establish themselves as service assistants in many other areas of life in the next few years. It is foreseeable that robots will also become smaller, more mobile, networked and cognitive, reflecting the development from the mainframe computer to the desktop computer (miniaturization), laptop (mobilization), tablet and smartphone (omnipresence). Endowed with these smart skills, they will accompany us in every area of our daily lives – both in the workplace and at home.

Future generations, “robotic natives”, will see robots as the state of the art, as a lifestyle, or quite simply as normal. Generation “R” will certainly have no inhibitions regarding robots. They will have overcome the old human versus machine antagonism. It will be a society that not only works differently, but also thinks differently. It will see the capabilities of robots as universal, networkable services that can be requested via the Internet and flexibly adapted to the requirements and desires of the individual at the click of a mouse.
The key drivers of such changes are:

  • World population growth
  • Customization
  • Digitization: In the future, ever more products and services will be provided via the Cloud in digital form. The interoperability of things in the Internet will create new business areas
  • Mobilization: Smartphones and tablets have made communications mobile. Robotic solutions are undergoing the same development. They are becoming smaller and more agile and moving autonomously
  • Globalization: The Internet is turning the world into a single, complex, networked location in which everyone can trade and communicate with everyone else.

“The rapid development of robotics will permanently change the world”

Robots not only broaden our productive capabilities, however, they are also the most flexible and versatile machines that mankind has ever come up with. Genuine teamwork between the two opens up an opportunity to support the worker, make his work easier and extend his human capabilities. Human-robot collaboration still seems like a vision of the future to many. However, small, specialized service robots have long since established themselves in our everyday lives. The rapid development of robotics will permanently change the world, just as the Internet and information technology have done in all areas of life. Today, robots are a key element of many business operations, providing answers to the major questions of our times: global challenges such as shortage of resources, climate change and the consequences of accelerating population growth combined with the aging of society. Equipped with pioneering technology and new capabilities, the robot, in its capacity as the world’s most versatile tool, will throw the door wide open for entirely new fields.

Headquartered in Switzerland and present with a local office in Dubai, Swisslog is a subsidiary of the German robots manufacturer KUKA and is organized in two divisions “Warehouse & Distribution Solutions” (WDS) and “Healthcare Solutions” (HCS). Swisslog Warehouse & Distribution Solutions designs, develops and delivers best-in-class intralogistics automation solutions for customers for a wide range of industries.

Frédéric Zielinski
General Manager
Swisslog Middle East