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5 for Friday: Rely on Your Humans in a Robot’s World; Merger Upheaval in 3D Printing; Manage Your Data Effectively

Sept. 29, 2023
Machine Design takes a look at the past week, and a look ahead to the issues facing the design and manufacturing sector.

1. Relying On Your Humans in a Robot’s World

While we all are embracing robots in the workforce—just so long as they don’t embrace us in return—we still are finding places where robots need a human approach to solving issues.

A new Machine Design article notes that while robots are designed to work autonomously, that doesn’t mean they don’t occasionally need attention, or even repair. “The recent emergence of a new human-centered remote monitoring and control system for industrial robots provides a new take on remote connectivity and control,” wrote article author Ryan Cox of Olis Robotics. “Consisting of several USB or IP cameras, a compute box and software, the plug-and-play system provides 24/7 low latency video and data access to any robot cell. Once secure remote access has been configured, integrators can monitor and manage automation remotely from anywhere via any browser-capable device. When an error occurs with a robot, the system sends out an alert via that secure connection, completely avoiding the cloud—and a host of cybersecurity risks—in the process.”

The cybersecurity issue is well-documented. The matter of human intervention in robotics might get overlooked in the enthusiasm over its potential benefits. But like any other technology, the need for human intervention remains.

2. Working Hand-in-Hand with Robots

For another perspective on robotics, we turn to a new Machine Design article that talks about the five ways cobots boost productivity among human workers. But as the article also notes, productivity comes second in the list of cobot attributes.

“Cobots are undeniably changing the game in automotive manufacturing. However, ongoing training and education are necessary to seamlessly integrate cobots into manufacturing processes,” notes article author Eric Whitley. “While cobots are safety-oriented, we must prioritize worker safety when working with them. This means implementing robust safety protocols, conducting regular risk assessments and ensuring quality communication for safe human-cobot interactions.”

3. Stratasys Seeks “Strategic Alternatives”

Stratasys shareholders overwhelmingly rejected a merger with Desktop Metal, which is forcing Stratasys officials to quickly begin rethinking the company’s future. Shareholders representing 78.6% of Stratasys shares voted against the deal, prompting Stratasys chairman Dov Ofer to state, “We have decided to undertake a comprehensive and thorough review of all available strategic alternatives.”

Our colleagues at IndustryWeek reported that 3D Systems and Nano Dimension had submitted bids to acquire Stratasys in recent months and had actively encouraged investors to vote against the Desktop Metal purchase, as had Donerail Group, owner of more than 2% of Stratasys’ stock.

4. The Race to Manage Data

The biggest challenge in a data-driven age is to turn the data into actionable solutions without overburdening either your network or your workers. I discuss the need to manage data and turn it into a useful took with new Control System Integrators Association (CSIA) Board Chair Karen Griffin of Hargrove Controls & Automation. This new Machine Design Insights looks at the explosion in plant floor information and how system integrators are working with customers in new ways to deliver successful projects. 

5.  Participate in the 2023 Salary & Career Survey

Speaking of managing data, for those of you who have yet to submit your opinions for our annual Salary & Career Survey, there’s still time to participate. This research will help highlight key issues and benchmark compensation by job types, experience and region. This is a valuable reference tool for everyone in manufacturing, and it becomes more valuable with every new contribution. We welcome your views.

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