This year’s Automate event was a great experience. Much like past years, the show was lively, focused, and very well attended. Here is a look at five things we learned about the state of the automation industry from our time in Chicago.
1. Factory Automation Is Trending - Smart 3D Robotics On The Rise
Automate is always a busy show but it seems like it’s getting busier and more competitive every year. There were many new 3D sensor vendors and solutions for attendees to explore, with an increasing focus on robotic technology, 2D & 3D vision, and system integration. The noticeable buzz around 3D technology and its use with robots to perform dynamic processes such as pick-and-place and visual guidance make this a very exciting time to be working in the automation industry.
2. Automation Means Cost-Savings
It seems clear that the automation trend is driven by cost savings and efficiencies. Some of this is about manufacturers wanting to replace manual work that can otherwise be done by cost-effective robots with a better level of consistency and objectivity, with no sick days and minimal employee cost overhead. And now even the jobs that humans still do better are starting to get addressed with AI and Deep Learning technologies.
3. Bin Picking Is Everywhere. Deep Learning Is An Enabler.
This year’s show featured a lot of smaller and lower-cost robots, working in a wide variety of bin picking applications. There was also some talk of AI/Deep Learning, and the impact it will have on machine vision going forward.
4. Large Object Scanning Solutions Are In High Demand
The robot demo brought a lot of people into our booth. They wanted to know how these hi-tech, futuristic-looking applications work and what sort of feats they can achieve. Once in the booth, people were more open to a conversation about their specific machine vision needs. For one, there were a lot of visitors who were interested in scanning larger targets. Our large FOV Gocator® 2880 connected well with this audience. Second, once people saw our multi-sensor networking capability, they quickly understood the power of having extended fields of view using many sensors, and the benefit of the fact that this capability is built into our sensors.
5. Interactive Technology Experiences Win the Day
People really enjoy interacting with our products and seeing how they work. This means as a vendor you can’t limit yourself to simply showing 3D scanning of parts, or demonstrating the same application year over year and nothing else. You have to showcase the full scope, flexibility, and evolution of your product’s capabilities—from smart 3D robot vision to laser vs. snapshot sensor technology, to multi-sensor networking. People really respond to this kind of dynamic and immersive experience. It allows them to connect with the products and experience what our solutions can offer first-hand.