The word robot usually inspires images of red-eyed boxy 1950s movie minions with flashing buttons. The entertainment industry has added to that through the years, with androids and human analogs also receiving the same title. However, the little domed circle that whizzes around on the carpet until it bumps into a wall and turns around is not just an “automatic vacuum,” it’s a robot. Devices in factories that perform simple repetitive tasks are robots. We often don’t notice the number of robots in our world because they escape our definition of the term. Any mechanical or electrical device that carries out a repetitive task autonomously on the instructions of circuitry or computer programming is a robot. Glowing red eyes or humanoid appearance are not defining features.
The benefits of using robotics in industrial settings are inarguable. The jobs replaced first were the most dangerous, followed by the most tedious and repetitive. In addition, while those factory positions were replaced by machines there were new jobs generated in robotic engineering and maintenance. Humans are gradually being reserved for the jobs that require reasoning and decision making. Humans, while brilliant creatures, are limited in their ability to perform exacting tasks without breaks or errors and although the reasons for automation began with a desire to protect human safety, the new robotic force quickly became the more efficient choice.
A perfect setting for the modern robot is a laboratory, where exacting measurements and precise actions are a necessity and many tasks are repetitive. In the pharmaceutical industry, chemicals have to be synthesized and put through a variety of steps and tests, such as adding liquids or solids and freezing or heating compounds. Using laboratory robots, there is less likelihood of waste through accidents or human error and the work can continue around the clock without taking time for breaks. Clean and efficient, a robotic staff can allow a few people to produce amazing large-scale results.
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The technology of robotic laboratory systems is still improving and even complex sensors that detect changes in color may be just around the corner. The ideal candidate for a complete robotic laboratory system will one that expects to have consistent need for the same tasks to ensure long-term use and therefore offset the cost of the installation. The longer the system is in use the more cost-effective it becomes as the initial investment is earned back time and time again in quality, around-the-clock results.
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A world that makes the most of robotic labor is one that has an efficient, clean and exciting future. Without the burden of repetitive tasks, humans can work as innovators. It will still be a human who finds the cure for cancer, but if that human has automated lab instrumentation and automated lab robot systems to help, it will just come that much quicker.