As robotics become more capable and versatile, they are becoming more integral to staying competitive in manufacturing. Robots are used in various spaces, and are most common in the automotive industry, with 17,500 industrial robots implemented in the U.S for automotive in 2016. Electronics and metals production are the second two industries that highly use industrial robots.
It follows then, that many OEMs and motion distributors are beginning to add verticals and partnerships to their businesses that include robotic components and systems in their portfolios.
Companies like Motion Industries, which is a distributor for motion solutions and fluid power systems in North America, are entering the robotics and automation markets through partnerships. The company just announced the acquisition of Numatic Engineering, which is a distributor for automation and industrial robots based in California. Numatic also has a value-added solutions team, which, under UL508 listing, can assemble products into systems for their customers’ needs. It distributes machine vision systems and controllers as well.
“The acquisition of Numatic Engineering continues to build upon and complement our growth strategy in the area of industrial plant floor automation,” says Motion Industries CEO Tim Breen. “Numatic Engineering will be operated as part of Motion’s Automation Solutions group, which includes Braas Company, acquired in October 2016.”
Other companies are entering the robotics space through introduction of new products. For example, Bimba, a manufacturer of hydraulic, pneumatic, and electric actuators, along with other accessories and controls, just released its new T-bot and H-bot configuration linear robotics products last month. The units use linear belt drives to enable circle, ellipse, and sine-wave motion on two-dimensional planes, and target electric linear robots in medium to heavy-duty industrial applications.
Rollon also began to apply its linear motion products to Gantries with the introduction of its Motion Box Cartesian system last year. The Motion Box is designed to be comprehensive and easy to employ. It includes its own human-to-machine interface, and is pre-engineered and pre-assembled to meet the needs of the customer. Their whitepaper in the link discusses how gantries can be good for transporting robotic arms and handling robots around the factory to reach shelves and change position in three dimensions.
Therefore, it remains an option for motion solution OEMs and distributors to begin to incorporate robotics in their businesses. Companies that decide to enter this market should consider providing solutions that are easy-to-implement and can be retrofitted for different communications protocols. They might even consider including maintenance and servicing as part of their offerings, especially if robotic solutions from the company are implemented directly into factories.