Early this year, the IFR (International Federation of Robotics) published fascinating statistics. That in Singapore, where there are 488 robots per every 10,000 employees, 90% of these robots are used in Singapore’s electronics industry.
Across the world, the electronics and semiconductors industry replicates this extensive use of robots.
Paradigm electronics, for instance, a company in Canada that manufactures loudspeakers and subwoofers uses collaborative robots sourced from universal robotics. Paradigm offers a testimonial that robots have helped increase production by 50%.
Similarly, Betacom a company in New Zealand turned to universal robotics for a solution when they decided to launch a new line of led road lighting products.
What Robotics Brings to the Table
These two fields—robotics and electronics—are fascinating because they depend on each other. The robotics industry depends on parts manufactured by the electronics industry and the electronics industry, in turn, uses the robots to improve efficiency.
Collaborative robots have added a lot of value to the electronics industry over the years.
1. Efficiency in Assembly and Dispensing
Assembly and dispensing are two very distinct processes in the electronics and semiconductor manufacturing industry where robots are in high use.
Electronics assembly involves tasks such as snapping electronics into a plastic element, putting all the components together and packing at the end of the assembly line.
Robots working in such an assembly process are fast and accurate hence efficient.
Dispensing, on the other hand, involves the application of sealants and adhesives often needed by electronic products. Using robots for this job reduces wastage.
2. Precision and Accuracy
A staple of the electronics industry is that it requires small parts and precise placement. If you have ever peeked into the insides of your laptop or desktop, think about all the parts. They are tiny but very deliberate in their precision.
Robots used in the electronics industry use vision technology to guarantee the accuracy needed in the manufacture of electronics. Adaptive tools such as force control are also used allowing the robot to place parts in a dynamic assembly process correctly.
Henry Loos an Application Engineer with Applied Robotics says that precision is still a challenge when developing robots meant for the electronics industry. This is because unlike the automotive industry, tolerances in electronics are tight and this is further complicated by the fact that high production is still required.
That is not to say that current robots in the electronics industry are not precise, they are, but due to focus on precision, speed is compromised. The consensus is that those in the robotics industry ought to focus on dexterity, the range of motion, reach and force compliance to improve precision.
3. Reduced Cost of Manufacturing
Lower costs are possible because robots can handle a myriad of tasks. Robots can deal with display screens, populate and coat circuit boards, and perform testing and inspections.
Also, because the quality is assured, the high productivity contributes to the low cost of manufacturing.
Robotics has had a massive impact on the electronics and semiconductors industry, but there is yet a lot to be done.
Singapore recently renewed its commitment to Artificial Intelligence and Robotics by working with research institutes to push the boundaries of AI, robotics and industry 4.0.
Singapore is an excellent example to take cues from because they are leaders in the electronics industry. Almost any important gadget in the world today has a part created in Singapore.
The larger electronics industry should, therefore, emulate this if the impact of robotics on the industry is to reach the next level
In addition, because these two industries are closely linked, if the electronics industry fully embraces robotics, then it will, in turn, affect the robotics industry positively.
Ultimately, time will tell how “smart future” will shape the future of the electronics industry. One way or another, it is apparent the electronics industry will not remain the same.