With the advent of COVID-19, we saw how companies adapted their way of working to keep production active even from a distance. These developments in automation and robotics are here to stay, showing the powerful future of a sector in full expansion. Here we bring you the latest trends!

1. Remote predictive maintenance

With the pandemic, and especially in confinement, state-of-the-art software revolutionized the industry. Tasks that were previously purely face-to-face, such as checking machines or equipment, could now be done remotely by a technician. So much so that companies such as Coca-Cola have already implemented Artificial Intelligence equipment for their digitalization and production processes in order to achieve operational excellence.

These systems, called SCADA, make it possible to control production processes, avoid possible failures in the value chain, calculate times and establish the correct use of equipment.

2. Hyper-automation

Hyperautomation goes a step beyond conventional automation. It seeks to further optimize digital processes by creating a single layer of automation for all processes.

At the latest edition of the Mindtech trade fair, which took place last September 14 – 16 in Vigo, the experts participating in the automation and robotics workshop echoed this new trend:

Miguel Ángel Mancheño, digital operations knowledge leader at Everis: “No one is at this high degree of automation, as it would be the last step where all systems and equipment are automated, always subordinated to a business strategy and with a distributed artificial intelligence network. But we are on the way, and it’s exciting to see how fast it’s evolving.”

According to Gartner Financials, by 2024 organizations will achieve up to 30% reduction in operating costs by automating their processes.

3. Collaborative robotics

Increasingly, robots and humans are working in cooperation. The most repetitive and routine processes are carried out by software and artificial intelligence, while the human team is responsible for leading tasks of greater complexity.

The issues that support the need for this collaboration are safety, ease of use, productivity and flexibility, as Pablo Fernandez, ABB’s general industry business manager for robotics, pointed out at the Mindtech show. An example of these collaborative robots are the new COBOT GoFa™, which the company presented at the Mindtech show.

4. Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT)

According to data from Oxford Economics, the application of the industrial internet of things will become a major driver of innovation and productivity. It will transform industry in different processes:

  • Optimization of machine performance
  • Reduction in the number of accidents
  • Advanced sensor technology for predictive maintenance
  • Autonomous machine control
  • Intelligent logistics

In the IIoT, a key challenge for Europe is to maintain its competitiveness. The World Economic Forum warns that Western countries are lagging behind the Asian continent, which is home to the majority of innovative companies in the field of robotics and automation. The relocation and production of key components to reduce dependence on Asia will be essential to tackle crises such as that of microchips, which the industry is currently suffering.

All these present and future trends determine the so-called fourth industrial revolution, which is essential for the entire industry in order to maintain its competitiveness and mark the post-covid19 economic recovery.