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The Role of Robots in Manufacturing Automation

The Role of Robots in Manufacturing Automation

Industry insights

12 Oct 2023

The manufacturing landscape is undergoing a dramatic transition, and the expansion of robotics is at the center of this change. Industrial robots are a vital part of contemporary manufacturing processes as technology develops because they provide efficiency, precision, and adaptability. 

In this article, we examine the beneficial effects of robotics on manufacturing and examine current trends and technologies.

What is Manufacturing Automation?

Manufacturing automation is the process of using modern automation technologies to make industrial machines perform specific manufacturing tasks. The goal of manufacturing automation is to streamline different production processes to increase the efficiency, speed, and accuracy of production. Automation is often applied to optimize manufacturing practices which might be repetitive, tedious, and risky to perform. 

Automation can improve the quality of goods produced while reducing the need for manual effort and minimizing the chances of human error in manufacturing. It also enhances the operational performance of industries and reduces resource wastage to deliver finished products at lower production costs.

The Role of Robotics in Manufacturing Industry

There are many advantages to integrating robotics into the manufacturing industry. Increased efficiency is one of the main advantages. Robots can carry out repetitive jobs with unmatched speed and accuracy, cutting down on errors and speeding up production. Due to the increased efficiency, you can get results like increased productivity, lower costs, and higher-quality products.

Additionally, using robotics in manufacturing offers a safer working environment. Robots can be used to perform tasks that are dangerous for people, such as handling toxic materials or working in harsh environments. This safeguards workers' health while also enhancing safety at work.

Historical Overview: When Did Robots Start Working in Factories

The origins of automation robots began in the early 1800s when innovators around the world started developing self-operating machines to carry out repetitive tasks. One of the first mentions of robotics is found in Aristotle’s idea of automata, where machines could help eliminate the need for human slavery. The conceptualization of robotics is also found in Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings from 1495. Drawing from these historical inspirations, scientists around the world have been able to develop increasingly sophisticated automation machines that can perform a variety of tasks with precision and speed. 

The first commercial robot was invented by George Devol in 1954 and granted a patent in 1961. Following this, George Devol and Joseph Engelberger went on to name this robot Unimate and build a company called Unimation to market these machines. Unimate was an electronically controlled robotic arm that could conduct arbitrary sequences of motion to perform heavy lifting in industrial settings. One of its first recorded functions was to transfer objects from one point to another, where it acted as a programmable transfer machine. 

In 1969, Victor Scheinman invented the Stanford Arm, which was an electric, 6-axis articulated machine which was designed to permit an arm solution. It could perform sophisticated tasks such as assembly and welding by following arbitrary motion paths in space. This invention widened the potential uses of factory robots. Around this time, innovators were looking to automate functions such as assembly, picking, placing, and moving heavier objects using robotics in common industrial settings. The automotive industry was most heavily affected by robotics, followed by the food and beverage industries. 

The industrial robots of the 1980s were characterized by better interaction capabilities with both operators and their environments. They also had some basic self-programming capabilities and could do more complex tasks using servo controls. They could be programmed online or offline and offered motion programming opportunities using popular coding languages. They paved the way for higher-functioning robots of the 2000s, which offer features like scanning, sensor reading, recording and using databases, and updating their programs according to environmental feedback.

How Are Robots Used to Automate Manufacturing Processes?

Factory robots are extensively used in industries to automate various aspects of the manufacturing process. The application of industrial robots can be divided into four main categories. These are:

Handling Materials
Industrial robotic automation can carry out activities like transferring manufacturing materials from one place to another and loading or unloading industrial machinery. Material transfer involves repetitive functions to move industrial materials or product components from one location to another. This could involve picking and moving objects from conveyors, or even from one part of the manufacturing unit to another. Machine loading and unloading functions usually require robots to grasp product parts and unload them onto another machine. 

Industrial Processing
A common example of processing operations is noticed during spot welding of automobile bodies. In this activity, an industrial robot is used to position a welding device against automobile parts so that they can be welded together to complete the assembly of car bodies. Spray painting is another instance where robotic arms are used to manipulate a spray gun's motion over an object's surface that requires coating. Other operations could include polishing, grinding, and packaging tasks.

Automation robots can help improve the efficiency of repetitive assembly activities such as inserting, mounting, screwdriving, and positioning of product components. Assembly robots can be a substitute for manual labor, especially in time-consuming tasks requiring consistent and precise parts handling. As manufacturing robots are programmable, they can be set up to identify different product components from a mixture and assemble multiple product types in batches using pre-defined execution tactics. 

Inspection and Monitoring
Robots can identify errors and deviations in product components to ensure that only high-quality parts can reach the next stage of the production cycle. The inspection process in manufacturing can be divided into four main stages, these are pre-production inspection, during-production inspection, pre-shipment inspection, and container loading/unloading inspections. Manufacturing robots can optimize the monitoring of industrial processes by using pre-programmed testing and scanning functions to measure the quality of products against specified benchmarks.

5 Types of Automation in Manufacturing

Here are the five main types of automation used in manufacturing:

Fixed Automation
Fixed automation is a form of automation where the manufacturing process is configured to follow a fixed sequence of automated tasks. Also known as hard automation, this type of automation uses specialized machinery which are built to perform fixed manufacturing functions. Fixed automation is usually employed to carry out repetitive production tasks that require a continuous flow of work using dedicated machinery. Systems designed for fixed automation are designated for a limited range of functions and do not adapt to changes easily. 

Flexible Automation
Flexible automation combines the characteristics of both fixed and programmable automation to create a robot that can be easily re-tasked to serve different manufacturing operations. Flexible automation is set up using reconfigurable machinery that can adapt to the changing requirements of an evolving industrial process. It uses software programs and control systems that can accommodate different product designs, production schedules, and process requirements. Flexible automation is ideal for agile manufacturing processes which might include overlapping product life cycles. 

Programmable Automation
Programmable automation systems depend on robotic equipment controlled through software to carry out a sequence of manufacturing functions. The automation of these systems is coded using online or offline programming tools which allow for easy modification and customization. This type of automation is flexible as manufacturers can change coding sequences or update machine programs to implement new processes within minutes. It is preferred for medium-to-high volume production activities, and ideal for batch production processes that require frequent variations.

Process Automation
Process automation uses robotic machines and AI- controlled programs to automate manufacturing cycles to meet pre-defined industrial goals. It is commonly utilized by companies that employ a combination of industrial processes that require flexible and well-integrated manufacturing systems. Process automation often creates opportunities for human workers to control and modify different parts of a manufacturing process using optimized network controls. Special software is used to automate organizational workflows and maintain uniform execution of manufacturing tasks. 

Integrated automation
Integrated automation systems try to combine multiple manufacturing and industrial organization techniques into a cohesive framework of operations. It uses computers and programming technology to integrate key business processes under a single command system. A range of interconnected sensors, controllers, and databases are programmed to coordinate with the larger objectives of an industrial unit. Integrated automation aims to harmonize different arms of a manufacturing process to synchronize and optimize industrial operations. 

In modern industrial units, different types of automation might be applied to improve the efficiency of various phases of the manufacturing process. The goal of most organizations is to improve productivity at lowered costs, and business owners often use a combination of automation strategies to accomplish this. Consequently, most new-age robots are highly customizable and offer programming variations to suit the unique needs of a business.

5 Industries Benefiting from Manufacturing Automation

Here are the top five industries that have employed manufacturing automation to their advantage:

Automotive Industry
Automation robots allow automobile manufacturers to produce a variety of vehicles with better precision, and speed. As most automotive companies are responsible for producing thousands of vehicle variations- each with a distinct set of parts and features, automation can improve the consistency and efficiency of vehicular manufacturing. Robotics manufacturing systems are often employed to perform functions such as welding, painting, assembly, machine loading, and transferring. Automation has allowed the automation industry to be more flexible in adapting to changing trends, and quickly reconfigure their production lines to introduce new vehicle models. 

Electronics Industry
Automation machines can help manufacturers meet the increasing demand for electronic devices by improving the efficiency and speed of device production. As electronic manufacturing requires a wide range of small, but precise production processes, robotic machinery can help achieve consistent production goals at a more reliable rate. Additionally, manufacturing robots can substitute for the growing shortage of skilled workers and allow manufacturers to easily adapt to changes in a rapidly evolving market. Robotic technology can help industries develop agile product development solutions that are tailored to the needs of a manufacturing unit. 

Food and Beverages Industry
Automation machines can help in enhancing the hygiene, and efficiency of food processing industries by integrating robotics into their manufacturing cycles. Modern robots can help improve the consistency and reliability of common manufacturing tasks such as cleaning raw materials, combining ingredients, packaging processed foodstuffs, and labeling of prepared packages. Robotics can significantly reduce the cost of production in these industries by reducing labor costs, minimizing ingredient wastage, and implementing regular quality control throughout the manufacturing process. 

Pharmaceutical Industry
Automation technology has made it easier for companies to improve the consistency and safety of pharmaceutical manufacturing. Robotics can streamline the processing of drugs by automating activities like compound synthesis, drug formulation, and packaging of appropriate dosages. Moreover, automated machinery can also help in assembling medical devices, and maintaining product inspection systems for regulating the quality of pharmaceutical products. Robotic manufacturing automation tools can be programmed to carry out specific industrial tasks, and also be updated or reprogrammed to meet the needs of different batches of products. 

Aerospace and Defence Manufacturing
The aerospace industry applies advanced manufacturing technologies to achieve high quality and precision in building aircraft. Aerospace and defense industries apply different versions of automatic manufacturing to create solutions for tasks such as drilling, welding, conveyance, and inspecting parts. Automation robots can greatly improve the efficiency of manufacturing processes and help in the rapid production of military vehicles, weapons, and communication and navigation devices.

Why Use Robots in Manufacturing?

Here are four key benefits of using robots in manufacturing:

Improved Speed
Robots can work long hours without needing breaks, leading to an increased rate of output production in factories. The introduction of automation technology can help in increasing the efficiency of manufacturing processes, while also doing away with the need for manual effort. Automated machines can operate for 24 hours a day, and result in increased volume of production over a shorter time frame. 

Consistent Quality
Automated machines are able to perform manufacturing operations with higher consistency and accuracy, resulting in better product quality. They can be employed to perform repetitive and high-intensity tasks with precision, leading to reliable results and minimizing errors in production. Consistency of manufacturing processes leads to a reduction in defective products and subsequent resource wastage. 

Enhanced Flexibility
Modern robots can be programmed to perform a complex combination of tasks in order to meet the unique needs of a manufacturing process. Automation allows manufacturers to fine-tune their machines according to the specific parameters, and geometrical characteristics of product parts. This is especially helpful in high-mix welding scenarios where welding robots must move according to the requirements of welded components. Automation robots can be reprogrammed to accommodate different product customizations and quickly switch between product lines to enhance manufacturing agility. 

Reduced Cost of Production
Automation manufacturing systems can be costly to install, as new infrastructure and machine integrations can require monetary investments. However, improved efficiency lowered product wastage, and increased speed of production can result in higher profits for an organization. Additionally, robotic machines have a high ROI due to perks like reduced energy consumption, lower reliance on human labor, and better safety for operators.

Preparing for Robotics: What Manufacturers Need to Know

Technology is developing quickly, and this leads to ongoing production advancements. The incorporation of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) into robotic systems is one of the newest trends. Robots can now learn new tasks and adapt to them because of these technologies, which increases their versatility and ability to do difficult tasks.

Collaborative robots are another manufacturing trend. These robots can collaborate with human operators, improving efficiency and teamwork. In addition to maximizing productivity, this collaborative method creates new opportunities for human-robot collaboration across a range of manufacturing processes.


Join Augmentus at ITAP 2023

While discussing the latest trends in manufacturing, Augmentus will be exhibiting at Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific (ITAP) 2023. In collaboration with LINX Singapore, Augmentus will showcase our Scan & Plan solution, highlighting its prowess in applications such as welding, sandblasting, painting, and thermal spray. Don't miss the opportunity to witness this groundbreaking collaboration at the ITAP event, where we will be at Booth No. 2G23 in Hall 2 – Singapore Expo from October 18th to 20th. Join us as we redefine the future of intelligent manufacturing together. Register here before it gets too late!

Future Trends in Industrial Automation and Robotics in Manufacturing Industry

Robotics in manufacturing industry has a great deal of room to grow and innovate in the future. The incorporation of robotics is probably going to get more complex as technology develops.

Collaborative robots' continuing growth will result in a more peaceful coexistence of people and machines. In fields where the human touch is necessary, such as intricate craftsmanship or occupations requiring creativity and problem-solving abilities, this collaborative approach will be crucial.

Robotics' integration with other cutting-edge technologies, like 5G connectivity and edge computing, will improve manufacturing systems' capabilities even more. Real-time data exchange and decision-making will be made possible by this connectivity, which will optimize production procedures and increase responsiveness to market changes.

Augmentus: Streamlining Robotics in Manufacturing

Despite the advances in manufacturing robotics, Augmentus stands out for its unique strategy for streamlining the frequently difficult and time-consuming task of programming industrial robots. Augmentus was developed in response to the demand for a method that simplifies the integration of various robot hardware and programming.

This platform is designed to intelligently automate industrial robots without the use of complex code. This ground-breaking solution avoids the downtime associated with conventional programming techniques and allows people with different degrees of robotics expertise to take part in the automation revolution.

Steps to Automate Manufacturing Processes Using Augmentus

System Integration: Augmentus creates a uniform platform for automation by smoothly integrating with different robot hardware. This connection guarantees interoperability with a variety of industrial robots, increasing manufacturers' flexibility.

AI Integration: To enable intelligent automation, Augmentus makes use of the capabilities of artificial intelligence. The system is capable of visual information interpretation, real-time decision-making, and dynamic manufacturing environment adaptation.

No-Code Robotics Programming: The no-code programming interface of Augmentus is one of its main advantages. Through an easy-to-use graphical interface, users may assign jobs to robots regardless of their programming experience.

Real-Time Simulation: Users of Augmentus can test and fine-tune their robotic programs virtually before implementing them in the actual industrial environment because of a feature that enables real-time simulation. This reduces the possibility of errors and speeds up the implementation procedure.

Robotics in manufacturing has a great deal of room to grow and innovate in the future. The incorporation of robotics is probably going to get more complex as technology develops.

Collaborative robots' continuing growth will result in a more peaceful coexistence of people and machines. In fields where the human touch is necessary, such as intricate craftsmanship or occupations requiring creativity and problem-solving abilities, this collaborative approach will be crucial.

Robotics' integration with other cutting-edge technologies, like 5G connectivity and edge computing, will improve manufacturing systems' capabilities even more. Real-time data exchange and decision-making will be made possible by this connectivity, which will optimize production procedures and increase responsiveness to market changes.


Future collaboration between people and robots together with technological improvements, has the potential to completely transform the manufacturing industry. As we enter the era of intelligent manufacturing, the combination of human ingenuity and robotic accuracy will help us reach new levels of innovation and productivity. With advanced robotic programming tools like Augmentus, manufacturers with no prior coding experience can build customized robots to support their industrial operations. If this development is any indication, we can tell that easy-to-use robotic programming is set to change the future of manufacturing by enhancing the speed and quality of production in a short span of time.


What is the most common manufacturing robot?

The most common manufacturing robot is the industrial robotic arm. They are widely used across industries and excel in tasks like material handling, processing, assembly, and inspection, increasing efficiency and productivity in manufacturing operations.

What advantages do robots offer over manual processes in manufacturing?

Robots offer several advantages, including increased efficiency, improved precision and accuracy, enhanced safety, and cost savings. They work continuously, minimize errors, handle risky operations, and reduce labor costs. 

Will robots replace humans in manufacturing?

While robots are increasingly used to automate repetitive tasks and improve efficiency in manufacturing, they are not likely to replace humans entirely. They will enhance human effort, performing tasks that are repetitive or dangerous, while humans focus on tasks requiring creativity and problem-solving.

Can Augmentus programming software integrate with existing manufacturing systems?

Yes, Augmentus programming software is designed to integrate with existing manufacturing systems. It smoothly integrates with different robot hardware, accommodates users with varying levels of programming expertise, and offers real-time simulation capabilities for testing robotic programs before implementation.