Reconditioned robots could offer more cost effective ways to automate repetitive processes, enabling manufacturers to run more efficient operations, save money and upskill the workforce.
One example of repurposed robotics is at bakery manufacturer, Macphie Ltd; the company has reconditioned robots at their Glenbervie factory in Scotland.
The manufacturer, who has a total of 330 people working in the business, has five reconditioned robots that were previously used in the automotive industry.
Neil Freckingham, operations director at Macphie, told The Manufacturer: “As far as we are aware the reconditioned robotics come from the automotive industry.”
He added: “They are installed and commissioned at around a third of the price of a new robot – they are very, very good value.”
Automation has been introduced at the factory to enable the workforce to upskill and to be a more efficient and cost-effective operation.
Repurposing robotics is an excellent concept to put into practice. If automation is doing a repetitive job then there is no reason why an existing automotive robot, for example, cannot afterward be reprogrammed and work in a bakery factory or otherwise.
The idea certainly makes a good business case; if reconditioned robots can be introduced at a third of the price of a new robot, this could even allow smaller businesses to begin their industry 4.0 journey.
Reconditioned robots in carpentry
Another example of repurposed robotics is in customised wooden furniture. Researchers from MIT have created a system called AutoSaw to automate carpentry.
The robotics are modified existing technologies, created via repurposing a Roomba vacuuming robot and two robots from KUKA.
This innovation could allow carpenters to focus on other important tasks such as design aspects.
The robots can reportedly cut the wood correctly, adding the holes needed to assemble products, and transport component parts.
Compared to existing machines used by carpenters, AutoSaw is more mobile, flexible and cheaper.