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Robotics Industry Insights

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A Little Green in Every Robot

by Brian Huse, Director, Marketing & PR
Robotic Industries Association

Brian Huse, Director, Marketing & PR, RIARobots are among the most efficient machines available to manufacturers and can be part of any company’s strategy for green manufacturing. Faster cycle times, improved quality and less scrap contribute directly to a greener footprint, and robots are well known for these advantages. If you use robots you have a green manufacturing story already.

When green manufacturing surfaced as a corporate strategy there were many who believed there was little or no payback. Isn’t it cheaper to pump waste out of the factory than it is to recycle it? And who can really afford to cultivate an eco-roof on top of their factory? Despite the skeptics, more companies now do such things and are able to show there is a return on investment.

One way robots have a place in the green manufacturing discussion is simply the fact they are usually on the front lines for fabricating alternative energy devices. Thanks to innovative work cell design, extremely long parts such as wind turbine blades are manufactured with the aid of robotics. (Many integrators have developed rails and ways to move robots long distances as they apply composites, for instance.)

In the solar energy market, robots are major workhorses for handling delicate wafers and other parts for solar cells. Here the benefit is often quality control and reduced breakage.

Demand is on the rise for alternative energy and robots already have a track record for improving the manufacturing process in these sectors. Government activity is driving the upward trend in solar, wind and hydroelectric investment. Leaders around the world are opening their eyes to robotics as they invest in technology to help their companies and their countries find a manufacturing edge.

These days most companies want to publicize their contributions toward environmental responsibility. There are many RIA member companies that have products and systems that play a role in green manufacturing strategy. They have published papers on how to save money and energy through automation and how to reduce waste with best practices and many of these resources can be found on Robotics Online.

Wafer Handling Robot: Demand for renewable energy resources such as solar cell manufacturing can be quickly met with robots. Photo courtesy of Adept Technology, Inc.Robots have excellent return on investment and are eco friendly by nature. Visit Robotics Online to find companies that can help your company capitalize on the green advantages of robotic automation.

5 Ways Robots are Green

  1. Robots reduce cycle time thus saving energy
  2. Robots can multi-task and eliminate the need for extra, less energy efficient equipment
  3. Robots improve quality which means less energy used for re-work
  4. Robots can be “recycled” for new applications unlike most hard automation (a used robot is the first robot for some companies)
  5. Makers of sustainable energy products in solar, wind and hydroelectric markets need robots for some tasks that people and hard automation don’t do well.

Originally published by RIA via www.robotics.org on 10/19/2009

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