R2TR: ROBOTS TO THE RESCUE
Divided by the Yangtze and Han rivers, Wuhan is the economic engine of Central China’s Hubei province. The spread of the coronavirus from Wuhan to the rest of the world continues to threaten society as we know it and impact people from all walks of life.
The question is: What can be done to reduce the number of coronavirus cases?
Technology and robots are providing answers to this question.
In Australia, over one million people have downloaded the government’s coronavirus contact tracing application. Similar to apps rolled-out in South Korea, China and Singapore, ‘COVIDSafe’ utilises a ‘digital handshake’ alert. Users are informed if they have been in close proximity to another user who has tested positive and can take suitable measures depending on results.
Living with, and adopting, advanced technologies during this pandemic will save lives as robots are combating the spread of the virus. At the epicentre of the coronavirus in Wuhan, robots are disinfecting and sanitizing city streets.
Demand for safety equipment and medical supplies is growing. ‘3D Printing for a Cause PH’ is an online three-dimensional printing community consisting of industry practitioners in the Philippines. The group is printing and supplying face shields, ventilators, medical tubing and valves and encourages 3D printer-owners to do the same.
Advanced medical-robots are being used as a remote tool to treat patients infected with the disease. Boston Dynamics is planning to expand its use of robots to help workers on the frontline.
Companies such as McDonald’s, Amazon and Walmart are using robots to replace human workers and reduce the coronavirus’ impact on their businesses.
Robots also play a huge role in continued social-distancing efforts. Robots are performing tasks such as preparing orders, conducting inventory checks, delivering packages to customers and reducing human-to-human contact.
The coronavirus continues to impact our lives and change the way we live. In our post-coronavirus world, we may be more welcoming of robots– after all; they are helping the human race get through a global pandemic.
Hirose Electric Co., Ltd. is a leading global supplier of innovative interconnects. Takao Kimura, Chief Operating Officer of Hirose Electric (China) Co.,Ltd. discusses the company’s actions in the Chinese market:
“Due to the impact of the pandemic, the demand for medical equipment, infrared temperature-monitoring equipment, gun-style thermometers has increased dramatically during this period. In addition, the demand for the mobile phone market and other consumer electronic products has not declined. There are many customers who are worried about the delivery of goods in the future, so they are preparing in advance. These factors have made our booking and billing situation quite good.”
“Soaring base-station and consumer-terminal communication demands are leading to increased online activities. The Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) market demand is also being driven by the increase of e-commerce activities. Reducing close-contact of personnel has led to increasing demand for various service-robots and online education-application terminal products in schools. With the global spread of the pandemic, it can be predicted that in the future, the demand for automobiles and general consumer-electronic products will have a downward trend. From the perspective of the whole year 2020, the growth of the market is somewhat pessimistic.”
“Due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, developments in online communications platforms have been accelerated. As a manufacturer of connectors, we want to better-meet the needs of the whole market and we will increase our ‘online’ activities in the future to become faster, better and more efficient to meet the needs of our customers in different regions and provide better services. In the future, we will carry out more cross-regional and cross-departmental ‘online’ team cooperation within the company to quickly respond to the needs of the Chinese market and Chinese customers. In addition to offline sales activities, we will increase our ‘online forum’ live broadcasts and regularly share industry solutions and high-performance product information. In this way, we can communicate with customers in different regions, industries, applications and scale the business more efficiently.”
“Human body-temperature monitoring equipment, ventilators, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), service robots, computed tomograph (CT) scanners and other products play an important role during this pandemic. Even after the pandemic is completely eliminated the application of these products will see a long period of stable growth. We will continue to pay attention to these industries and products and prepare more connector-solutions for the upgrading of these products in the future.”
“In China, the pandemic situation has been controlled as a whole. The urgent question is how do we resume production activities to promote economic growth? In 2015, the Chinese government officially put forward their ‘made in China 2025’ initiative; connected with the development goals and demands of many key industries. In 2019 last year, the government also put forward the ‘new infrastructure’ initiative. We will promote the market in China and we will focus on 5G related communication equipment this year.”
FANUC provides automation products and services such as robotics and CNC technology.
V-DOSE received comments from FANUC Hungary Kft.
What measures has Fanuc Hungary introduced to prevent the spread of the virus?
“In mid-March, the Hungarian management of FANUC decided to switch to remote work, spending as little time in the office as possible. For those who still had to operate in the office or perform service jobs, we provided them with high-quality protective equipment. Even our headquarters in Japan supported us with FFP3-rated masks as it would be difficult to acquire them in Europe.”
When do you expect the situation to settle down and do you expect changes in the market, if so, what kind?
“The rapid plant shutdowns of our customers are now being followed by a period of reorganization and a continuous restarting of production; followed by a ‘rethinking’ of supply chains. We feel like a lot of companies are not being able to fulfil their orders due to the lack of parts expected from other continents; more are thinking of bringing their suppliers closer. New markets are also opening up, especially in the manufacture of medical devices, where Europe’s exposure to the coronavirus has been very high.”
The role of technology now seems to be appreciating on all fronts. How does the role of robotics change as a result of the coronavirus?
“Our example proves that production on automated production lines is independent of human factors. Robotization can be an ideal choice in situations such as the current one, because in this way, continuous production can be ensured despite significant limitations. The coronavirus has brought not only a crisis and austerity, but also opportunity. We must strive to help as many of our partners as possible with the opportunities provided by robotics and automation.”
FANUC provides automation products and services such as robotics and computer numerical control wireless systems
FANUC’s expertise in robotization is a necessity, especially during these times. Get a full dose our interview with Fanuc and how others are using robotization during this time through our article found in the link in bio!
To what extent can a company’s technological advancement help a company in such a situation? Japanese production is famously automated. Is production running smoothly?
“Technology plays a significant role in our everyday communications and we have been building stable web-based communications for more than three years. Thanks to this, we were able to switch to remote-working overnight and production is running smoothly in our factories in Japan. For example, we can run our machining plant without human intervention for up to 720 hours – even material logistics are fully automated. Thanks to this and the disciplined community-standards of the Japanese people, we do not expect a disruption; even if restrictive measures were to be taken in Japan similar to Europe.”
What lessons does Covid-19 hold for the operation of Fanuc?
“For the time being, the economic and social effects of the coronavirus can only be estimated, so of course a full conclusion has not been reached, including in Hungary. What is certain is that we are already thinking about how we justify continuously working in the office for certain functions and how it would be possible for employees to establish a remote-based working environment; saving the company costs and employee travel-times.”
Does Fanuc see any changes or rearrangements on a global scale that need to be addressed with either a technological solution or an operational reorganization?
“Technological solutions have long been available to enable manufacturing companies to ensure the continuity of their production. I am thinking here of the availability of fully-automated systems and the opportunities offered by Industry 4.0. In addition to their introduction, it is likely that supply-chain experts will be put to the test in the new-economic period. Covid-19 has caused a global-downturn and thus economic damage to the global supply-chain network; especially in the automotive industry.”