Everything You Need to Know About Automation in Sanitary Industries
In just a few short years, industrial automation has evolved from what once many saw as “just another trend” into one of the most significant technological advancements to come along in a generation or more.
According to one recent study, by as early as the end of 2022, approximately 42% of all task hours in manufacturing environments will be completed by machines. The same source indicated that the total number of industrial robots around the world is growing by a rate of about 14% every year – a trend that shows absolutely no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Once you also realize that the global industrial robot market size has grown to an enormous $50.2 billion as of 2021, it’s easy to see why this is something that so many people are paying attention to.
At the same time, one of the major benefits that industrial automation brings with it is that it is nothing if not flexible. How robots and other automation assets are handled in one industry can vary wildly from the next. When people hear the term, they call to mind images of robotic arms assembling cars in an automotive factory somewhere – but truly, that’s simply a fraction of the full potential of this tech-based revolution.
Case in point: automation in sanitary industries. Organizations in the food, healthcare and even research sectors are benefiting from this level of automation in a wide range of different ways, all of which are more than worth exploring.
Automation in Sanitary Industries: Breaking Things Down
Although concerns about the pandemic may have accelerated the push towards automation in certain industries like food distribution, it’s important to note that this has actually been going on for quite some time. Tyson Foods, for example, produces approximately 20% of the chicken, beef and pork in the United States. Over the last three years, they’ve invested more than $500 million in automation and related technologies like artificial intelligence.
But within the context of this particular sanitary industry, automation isn’t simply limited to what is happening on your average factory floor. In an effort to bring about greater levels of efficiency and scalability, those in the industry are regularly turning to automation for things like irrigation, fertilizer, harvesting and more. Some companies have even turned to automated breeding systems to make these crucial stages of the supply chain as effective as possible. Not only does this go a long way towards helping to keep things as sanitary as possible, but it also helps lower production costs by allowing these organizations to control their use of water, fuel and other essential resources.
One of the major advantages of automation in these types of environments is that it allows for consistent, high quality results that are repeatable over the long-term. In addition to freeing up the valuable time of human employees to focus on more important matters, it also virtually eliminates the possibility of human error in a context where the consequences are far too great for mistakes of any kind. According to one recent study, approximately 600 million people get sick after eating contaminated food every single year. That number makes up about one in every 10 people around the world. What’s worse, about 420,000 of those people will go on to die – and automation can absolutely help cut down on these numbers as much as possible.
In terms of the healthcare industry, automation is also being used in a host of unique ways – especially when it comes to caring for the well-being of patients with COVID-19. In China, for example, robots are already being used to complete jobs that are designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible, like cleaning infected areas that would otherwise be dangerous for humans. Even in hospital environments, certain tasks that would formerly require a medical professional to directly interact with an infected patient can be largely automated – thus reducing their potential exposure and bringing some much-needed relief to medical facility staff members who are already overwhelmed by the burden of the ongoing global pandemic.
Of course, the robots themselves designed for sensitive environments like healthcare and medicine also have very strict cleaning requirements. They need to be totally free of germs, as well as any microbes that could potentially spread contagious diseases around a facility. All service robots, regardless of what they’re being used for, will need to be properly sterilized periodically so that they don’t inadvertently become carriers to diseases and other pathogens that could make people sick.
Regardless of the industry you’re talking about, the major advantage of automation in sanitary environments has to do with the reduction of menial tasks for the sanitation workers themselves. A lot of these jobs are essential, but they’re also very repetitive in nature. That makes them prone to causing not only physical fatigue but also a general lack of alertness as someone becomes disengaged with their position. This could lead to poor sanitation practices, which is something that automation largely helps to avoid.
All of this goes a long way towards increasing the efficiency of the workforces in these environments, too. By allowing human employees to both avoid potentially dangerous situations and focus on those tasks that require a human element, organizational leaders are getting the most value out of the people they employ on a daily basis. This also has the added benefit of offering a more consistent and efficient use of things like chemicals and even energy, leading to a more cost-effective enterprise as well.
But when you also consider the lengths that automation in sanitary industries can go to guarantee safer workplaces, you begin to realize that you’re looking at a perfect storm in the best possible way. All of this is only possible due to the significant advancements that have been made in automation over the last decade in particular – to the point where it’s truly exciting to think about what the next 10 years (and beyond) may have in store for us all.
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To find out how automation can improve your Sanitary operations, contact JHFOSTER today. Our automation experts can help you find the best way to improve your company’s workflow.