Four ways mobile robots can improve operational safety
While workplace safety is important for all industries, for those in high risk industries such as manufacturing, warehousing and transportation it is a major concern which has only increased with the impact of COVID-19.
With of manufacturers reporting that collisions and other shop floor accidents are a big challenge for their businesses, the recent statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that in 2019 there were 5,333 fatal occupational injuries recorded in the US alone.
1. Improved visibility
Highlighting that the frequent cause for workplace injuries is ‘limited’’ or ‘obstructed’ visibility, those that harness sensors, LiDAR scanners, mapping and universal fleet management, can ensure that autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) can detect and respond to people and/or objects that are in their path.
AMRs can remove humans from dynamic and high risk environments due to their ability to autonomously navigate and establish the best route to get to a given destination.
2. Reduced contact with dangerous machinery
While manually-operated forklifts are one of the most common technologies used in warehouses and material handling, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), there are 97,000 forklift injuries on a yearly basis.
Meili Robots comments that “with a worker getting injured on the job every seven seconds and a loss of 104 million production days due to work-related injuries in 2017, using mobile robots as an alternative will not only lower the risk of injury and death among workers substantially, but it will also keep your business moving without losing valuable production time.”
3. Automation of repetitive tasks
According to Meili Robots, 33 per cent of worker injuries in manual material handling can be attributed to lifting or lowering objects. Using AMRs reduces the risk of collisions, optimises efficiency and can reduce the risk of injuries due to repetitive lifting and lowering tasks.
4. Social distancing
With the increased need for safety in the workplace in light of COVID-19 , the use of AMRs can eliminate unnecessary contact between workers.
“Autonomous deliveries are bringing supplies to people as they adopt social distancing. Automated workstations are speeding up the work of pharmaceutical companies. Automation is on the front lines of this battle,” said the .
IMF: Variants Can Still Hurt Manufacturing Recovery
After a year of on-and-off manufacturing in the US, UK, and the eurozone, demand for goods surged early last week. Factories set growth records in April and May, suppliers started to recover, and US crude hit its highest price point since pre-COVID. As vaccination efforts immunise much of the US and UK populations, manufacturers are now able to fully ramp up their supply chains. In fact, GDP growth could approach double-digits by 2022.
Now, the ISM productivity measure has surpassed the 50-point mark that separates industry expansion from contraction. Since U.S. president Biden passed his US$1.9tn stimulus package and the UK purchasing managers index (PMI) increased to 65.6, both sides of the Atlantic are facing a much-welcomed manufacturing recovery.
Lingering Concerns Over COVID
Even as Spain, France, Italy, and Germany race to catch up, and mining companies pushed the FTSE 100 index of list shares to a monthly high of 7,129, some say that UK and US markets still suffer from a lack of confidence in raw material supplies. Yes, the Dow Jones has made up its 19,173-point crash of March 2020, and MSCI’s global stock index is at an all-time high.
Yet manufacturers around the world realise that these wins will be short-lived until pandemic supply chain bottlenecks are solved. If we keep the status quo, consumers will pay the price. In April, inflation in Germany reached 2.4%, and across the EU’s 19 member countries, overall prices have increased at an unusual pace. Some ask: Is this true recovery?
IMF: Current Boom Could Falter
Even as Elon Musk tweeted about chip shortages forcing Tesla to raise its prices, UK mining demand skyrocketed; housing markets lifted; and the pound sterling gained value. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), however, cautioned that manufacturing recovery won’t last long if COVID mutates into forms our vaccinations can’t touch. Kristalina Georgieva, Washington’s IMF director, noted that fewer than 1% of African citizens have been vaccinated: “Worldwide access to vaccines offers the best hope for stopping the coronavirus pandemic, saving lives, and securing a broad-based economic recovery”.
Across the globe, manufacturing companies are keeping a watchful eye on new developments in the spread of COVID. Though US FDA officials don’t think we’ll have to “start at square one” with new vaccines, the March 2021 World Economic Outlook states that “high uncertainty” surrounds the projected 6% global growth. Continued manufacturing success will in large part depend on “the path of the pandemic, the effectiveness of policy support, and the evolution of financial conditions”.
Mathias Cormann, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) concurred—without global immunisation, the estimated economic boom expected by 2025 could go kaput. “We need to...pursue an all-out effort to reach the entire world population”, Australia’s finance minister added. US$50bn to end COVID across the world, they imply, is a small investment to restart our economies.