Paving the Way for Industry 5.0 and Cobots
Currently, we're reaping the benefits from the implementation of Industry 4.0 applications, which has seen brand-new technological innovations and cyber-physical systems brought in to help manufacturing lines throughout the world. Looking ahead to the next advancement, Industry 5.0, we're set to see more joint operations than ever before, with robots, quite literally, working hand in hand with humans.
Here, Knight Optical – the leading supplier of on-spec optical components for a diverse variety of scientific and technological applications, including robotic systems – teleports you into the near future with a sharp insight into Industry 5.0.
Let's start with the overriding question...
Also referred to as the Fifth Industrial Revolution, Industry 5.0 is the next big step we'll take in the world of industrialisation. While some organisations are attempting to bring themselves up to date with Industry 4.0, other innovators are looking ahead to the next phase on the horizon.
Designed to complement the current industrial revolution, this upcoming advancement places the well-being of workers at its core by converging human "talent" and "empowerment" with "flexible" and "adaptable" technologies1. This results in the encouragement of human creativity and high-class craft while simultaneously benefitting from robotic efficiency and reliability.
Manufacturing lines and workplaces are currently more digitally driven than ever, and this next-phase transition will see humans and robots working collaboratively to undertake tasks that were previously completed manually.
Furthermore, this procedure of humans and robots working in proximity plays a crucial role in this new development. The systems themselves are referred to as cobots. They are known to be more cost-effective options when compared to prices associated with traditional robots.
As part of Industry 5.0, many workplaces throughout the globe are set to welcome other newcomers to outdated production lines, such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), big data and other intelligent machines that humans can work collaboratively with. Of course, for some forward-thinking companies, many of these high-tech technologies are already strong members of production lines and have been assisting in increasing efficiencies and productivity for some time.
Cobots – The Heart of Industry 5.0
The primary purpose behind the new industry is to combine high-performing robotic, automation and other digital systems with human participation. This is where cobots step into the spotlight. Previously, many robotic systems were deemed unsafe to work alongside, with many kept in cages and behind bars to protect workers from moving mechanical parts.
Now, they're working side by side with humans in the form of cobots, thanks to companies like automation firm Universal Robots, whose devices include everything from robotic arms with grippers and pick-and-place end effectors to 'soft hands' and welders.
Find out more about Universal Robots' devices here.
These systems are employed everywhere, from machining and electronics to the food and beverage industry, and their deployment is paying off for many companies. With benefits such as a boost in accuracy, reduction in waste and time-saving gains – coupled with their smaller size, lighter weight and easy-fit form when compared to more cumbersome robots that are cordoned off from workforces – it's easy to see why factories and production lines are welcoming these cobots to their teams.
Another exemplary manufacturer in this field is the Japanese robotic company FANUC, which has been integrating its cobots into existing production lines around the world to enhance performance and time efficiencies. One example of FANUC's products being executed to realise their full potential is within steel company Benteler International's Germany smart factory. Here, the FANUC CR-35iA drives around safely at full speed (at 750 mm/s) and loads the necessary parts – all without requiring safety barriers or cages.
Learn more about the FANUC CR-35iA in Benteler International's Germany smart factory here.
Following project-specific data captured by sensors, AI deciphers submitted information by organising and contextualising this knowledge. These details are then picked up by machines, robots and cobots to make algorithm-directed decisions and, ultimately, perform the tasks they are intended to undertake.
Due to the previous dangerous associations of working closely with robots that we've mentioned earlier in the blog, AI is essential when it comes to cobots and their assured safety. As CPO Magazine explained, "...Industry 5.0 needs trusted data", and for users to have full confidence in cobots' safety and be guaranteed that systems will not cause harm to those around them, they need to be assured "that the data being fed into these processes can be trusted2".
How Do Optical Components Fit In?
Looking beyond computer programmes and other cloud-based software, optical components are naturally used within hardware systems in this line of work. In the case of our highlighted cobots subject, these optics are integrated into these systems themselves.
Tasked with all the visual-intense duties that we've mentioned above – such as meticulous measuring, accurate welding, rapid picking-and-packing assignments, and many more tasks – optics play an important role in enabling these systems to essentially 'see' and 'sense' the environment that surrounds them so that they can perform their programmed obligations.
Moreover, clear, unobstructed, and high-quality vision is one essential ingredient for high-performing cobots. Ultra-precision, premium-quality optics provide just that and enable these automated systems to undertake their tasks effortlessly, meeting company manufacturing targets and helping to boost productivity.
Our Portfolio of Premium-Quality Optics
At Knight Optical, we provide a wide-ranging portfolio of premium-quality, ultra-high-precision optics for cobots. Whether they're optical components for savvy sensors that help cobots detect nearby objects, intended to shield other vital internal components against dust and debris in the form of protective windows or IR optics to support systems that work on a thermal imaging basis, we have a whole range of options available at your fingertips.
Check out our previous article, ‘Swimming with the Substrates: Infrared (IR) Applications’.
With a vast range of over 3000 readily available stock optics and custom-made designs, there's something suitable for every cobot application. Moreover, we also offer a variety of optical coatings, so you can rest assured that your end application will perform as intended, no matter the environment.
Why not take a look at our new product range!
Discerning customers rely on Knight Optical not only for the premium quality of our output and in-house state-of-the-art Metrology Laboratory and QA Department's capabilities but because – as well as a range of Stock Optics (available for next-day dispatch) – we also offer our optics as Custom-Made Components.
With over three decades of experience under our belt and a host of long-standing world-renowned customers on our books, we are proud to have worked on some of the most ground-breaking innovations.
If you are looking for premium-quality, bespoke optical components, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of the Technical Sales Team here.
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