Robotic arm at MDM West

MD&M West, Day 4: Robots Reach Into Manufacturing

Aug. 12, 2021
Collaborative robots have taken the spotlight at MD&M West, and for good reason.

Robots were a pivotal part of medicine even before the pandemic thrust medicine into the global spotlight. With respect to medical robots or robots for medical manufacturing, the use of an additional mechanical arm has changed the profession, helping to make medicine both safer and more cost-effective.

Robots were a key part of this week’s MD&M West Show in Anaheim, as many major robotics distributors showed off a number of collaborative robots and their use in a wider variety of pick-and-place and material handling applications. Most of those cobots also displayed their safety function, operating within easy reach of attendees.

Beyond the topic of robotic collaboration is interoperability. Thomas Ryden, executive director at MassRobotics, led a discussion earlier at MD&M on interoperability in robotics. In 2020, MassRobotics—an independent, non-profit organization serving as the innovation hub for robotics and connected devices—established the Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR) Interoperability Working Group to tackle this problem.

Jonathan Tilley, a partner at McKinsey and Company, presents a discussion this morning at 10:20 a.m. PST that discusses the steps still needed to optimize industrial automation with robots. Tilley will provide an overview of the current state of industrial robotics market and the powerful enabling technology that will advance next-generation robotics into new capabilities and use cases. Among the topics:

  • The current state of the industrial robotics market post-COVID and a snapshot of demand trends
  • The current challenges facing the use and expansion of robotics
  • The intelligent edge technologies that can deliver new robotic capabilities
  • How robotics uses will evolve over the coming years 

Another session today focuses on gripper technology. From mechanical grippers to soft grippers, there are many choices that designers can use in deploying robotics, and just as many choices of power source for the gripper function. A panel discussion at MD&M West led by Dave Neville, president of Infinity Robotics, will look at the more popular gripper choices and how to get a handle on making the right decision in grippers—choices that extend to materials and applications.

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