Robots: The Industrial frontliners for covid-19

Robots are Industrial Frontliners

There is no subtle way of saying this but the pandemic has definitely brought unprecedented changes to the manufacturing as well as the service industry. The situation is already ushering in a host of challenges to the industrial manufacturers, especially those that depend on the workers whose jobs cannot be carried out remotely.

As India deals with the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic, businesses are forced to innovate, including utilizing workplace robots. Robots are increasingly expected to do dull, dirty and dangerous work and Covid-19 has put their usefulness under the spotlight.

How the pandemic has really affected the manufacturing industry

One of the hardest-hit segments from Covid-19 is the manufacturing sector. The lockdown that followed brought the manufacturing facilities to a standstill, derailing the entire global supply chain.

After having elaborate discussions with various industries post-lockdown and augmenting my personal observations, some side effects of the pandemic that were observed on a broader level were:

  • Limited customer visits or, in some cases, shut down completely
  • Major delays in ongoing customer projects and new projects
  • Many industries have seen a triple increase in the number of orders
  • Majority of R&D work has stopped
  • Large scale migration of labourers to their hometowns
There has also been a significant spike in the demand for automation solutions by manufacturers especially the Process manufacturing, Pharmaceutical and the Hospitality industry. Covid-19 sure is bringing in new opportunities for the Robotic Automation Industry.

How robots are helping combat covid-19


There is no doubt that the real frontline workers are the healthcare workers. With such a high rate of infection and the constant exposure to the virus at the medical facilities, the prime community at the risk of infection are the people aiding other ill people – medical professionals. Limiting the doctor-patient interactions is one way to lower the infection rate.

This is where the robots have a major impact. Instead of risking personnel at intake locations, Mobile robots are used in place of doctors to perform routine observations such as temperature checks and also disinfection of the facilities. Robots performing tasks that would normally put workers at risk of infection greatly improves not only the capabilities of the facility, but dramatically reduces the risk to both workers and patients.

Revolutionising the factory floors and warehouses

Industry 4.0 being a major driver for smart manufacturing, automation of the shop floors across various industries is no longer a futuristic vision. The competitive edge lies in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Industrial Internet of Things (IoT), Robotics and Additive manufacturing (better known as 3D Printing), which are all set to fundamentally transform global production. These trends got a big boost during the pandemic as e-commerce soared.

The new massive warehouses are emerging that can only be managed with extensive robotisation, automation and digitisation. Retail giants like Flipkart, Amazon and Reliance are opening up massive spaces to fulfill their warehousing needs. Various robotic solutions like Autonomous Mobile Robots(AMRs), AGVs and ASRS solutions are being deployed to keep up with the ever growing demand, by increasing production without compromising the workers’ safety.

Robots are Industrial Frontliners

Source: Times of India, Bengaluru (March 31, 2021, p.17)

Automation has helped some of the companies pull through the crisis better. A case in point is Cairn Oil’s Barmer plant which saw a dip in the number of its personnels from 7500 to 1500 during the lockdown. Another major contributor to the crisis was the lower demand for the barrels of oil. Cairn has been keeping up production solely because of its investment in digitization and automation over the past one and half years.

The silver lining

We cannot deny the fact that the world has been putting all eggs in one basket by over-relying on China for sourcing the raw materials. The pandemic is now beginning to disrupt this monopoly held by China by disrupting the global supply chain. Countries like Japan and India are now giving a major boost to its manufacturers to become self-reliant. To put things in perspective, Japan has announced a package of 2.2 billion dollars to its manufacturers to help them relocate their overseas factories, including bringing them back home.The growth of reshoring of manufacturing in this country has depended heavily on the use of robotics.
While technology and autonomy continues to improve as prices reduce, the question is no longer whether autonomous robots will find a way into the supply chain of the future, but where and how soon.Thank you for reading.

Robots are Industrial Frontliners

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