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How will mobile robots help transform manufacturing and logistics?

Nurdianah Md Nur | Oct. 5, 2017
Omron has also opened a live lab in Singapore to help organisations experience first-hand the benefits of industrial automation.

Omron mobile robot
Screenshot of Omron's mobile robot from product brochure

Omron believes that mobile robots will be key in smart factories and smart logistics.

It is thus offering mobile robots to help transport carts or goods to a target location in warehouses, distribution centres or manufacturing facilities while calculating the optimal route and avoiding humans and obstacles. This removes the need for employees to manually carry the materials from one point to another, allowing them to focus on more value-added tasks, said Swaminathan Vangal-Ramamurthy, general manager of Omron Asia Pacific's robotics business division.

Vangal-Ramamurthy also shared that it is easy to deploy the mobile robots as they do not require companies to manually programme routes or install additional infrastructure such as floor magnets or laser beacons. 

This is because Omron's mobile robots use an onboard laser to scan the environment and generate a map which is used for navigation. In addition, they identify overhead lights and overlays the light map with the floor map, enabling them to adjust to frequently changing environments, explained Vangal-Ramamurthy.

According to Omron, the mobile robots can benefit various industries. For instance, it can be used to transport heavy car parts from the subassembly areas to lineside in car manufacturing plants, move printed circuit boards in handset assembly for mobile device manufacturers, or for e-commerce order fulfillment. In fact, Omron itself is using the mobile robots in its Kusatsu factory for its manufacturing operations.  


Experiencing the benefits of automation first-hand

Companies that would like to test the potential of mobile robots or other robotics solutions for their operations can do so at any of Omron's nine automation centres (ATC) globally.

Positioned as a "live lab", Omron's latest ATC in Singapore is dedicated to exploring the use of artificial intelligence, internet of things, and robotics for manufacturing applications. Instead of simply displaying use cases for such technologies, the ATC invites customers to share the problem they'd like to address and test their ideas there to experience the benefits of industrial automation first-hand.

"Since the test is based on the actual problem, 70 to 80 percent of it is the real deployment so not much tweaks or development is needed by the customer if they decide to deploy the solution after the test," said Vangal-Ramamurthy.

Takehito Maeda, Managing Director of Industrial Automation Business, Omron Asia Pacific said: "We have worked tirelessly alongside Singapore industries for decades now having equipped factory floors here through the generations. It is no different now as we continue to support our customers [through the ATC] as they move on to embrace [smart manufacturing]. We are no doubt proud to be able to play a role in helping them build smarter factories in line with Singapore's Smart Nation vision."


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