Bob Doyle is the vice president of the Robotic Industries Association (RIA) and the Association for Advancing Automation (A3).
The trade association is based in Ann Arbor, Mich., and represents about 1,250 member companies from around the world in the robotics, vision and motion control industries. Its flagship event, Automate, which is held every two years, will take place April 8-11 at McCormick Place in Chicago.
This year, Doyle is expecting a record event with more than 500 exhibitors spanning 160,000+ square feet of exhibit space. Since 2017, the show has grown more than 40 percent.
In a recent interview with IEN, Doyle discusses the state of the automation industry, including emerging new markets, while debunking modern myths and stating how new technologies will enable applications that were previously impossible.
- According to Doyle, small-to-medium-sized manufacturing companies are still hesitant to automate, but many realize that they need the technology to remain competitive.
- While the industry’s biggest myth (robots take jobs) persists, the opposite is true. Doyle says that robots actually create jobs — better, higher paying jobs.
- Collaborative robots will play a significant role in the factory of the future, but Doyle stresses the importance of risk assessments, especially if a worker is going to be working side-by-side with the robot. He also adds that traditional industrial robots are now working in more collaborative environments as they are paired with vision and sensing technology that improves work-space safety.
- A recent report from A3 states that robotics sales in the automotive industry are retracting (with 52% market share); however, non-traditional industries like food and beverage, consumer goods, plastics and rubber and aerospace are growing. The emergence has been pushed by new technologies, such as gripping and machine vision, which enable applications that were previously impossible.
- New technologies to look for at Automate 2019 include advancements in Industrial IoT (or smart factory), mobility and autonomous mobile robots.
- Misperceptions about the manufacturing industry has led to a “lost generation” of workers, which has created the skills gap.
Associations like A3 exist to make sure that manufacturers have the best tools available, and at the end of the day, a robot is just a tool.