Colleague Robot Reduces Energy Consumption
4/13/2023 New Paths Sustainability Article

Colleague Robot Reduces Energy Consumption

Robots neither sweat nor whine. They take on many jobs in the packaging and logistics industry quickly and reliably. In the production environment, companies are increasingly focusing on achieving the most positive CO2 balance possible. In this, robots can also play an important role.

The ultra-compact forklift AGV transports pallets and increases productivity at an automotive OEM. The ultra-compact forklift AGV transports pallets and increases productivity at an automotive manufacturer.
Whether it's chocolate or sparkling wine, robots are helping to package luxury products and bring them to the retail shelves. New cobots (collaborative robots) by Schubert, for example, process chocolate or muesli bars and bags of potato chips. Wine producer Freixenet works with robots by Fanuc. Their entire process from grape pressing to packaging is automated. Robots have long since arrived in the food industry as well. “Today, introducing robots for automated production is no longer a departure into unknown worlds,” is how the ABB Group sums it up.

According to the latest “World Robotics 2022 Report” by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), Germany has increased the number of installed industrial robots by 6 percent year-on-year to 23,777 units. “With a total of 245,908 units, the German industry ranks first in a European comparison:  one in three industrial robots of the entire European inventory (36 percent) is in use between Flensburg and Munich,” explains IFR President Marina Bill. Germany is one of the world's five largest robot markets.
To improve the competitiveness of companies in times of rising energy costs, energy efficiency is a key to success. “The use of robots makes a decisive contribution to reducing energy consumption in manufacturing. Compared to traditional assembly line production, automation can achieve significant energy savings through reduced room temperature. At the same time, robots operate at high speed, making manufacturing more time- and energy-efficient overall,” reports the IFR in its latest February 2023 Trend Report.

In addition, robots today are designed to consume less energy and operate with lower operating costs. To achieve sustainability goals for their production, companies are using industrial robots equipped with energy-saving technology: robot controllers, for example, can convert kinetic energy into electricity and feed it back into the power grid. This technology significantly reduces the energy required to operate a robot. Further savings are possible with an intelligent power-saving mode that controls the robot's energy supply as needed during the workday. 

When it comes to sustainability, energy efficiency, and resource conservation, robotic automation can make valuable contributions, Stäubli shares. To avoid the environmental impact associated with new machine production, refit is a resource-saving alternative. “The quality of our robots is so good that we overhaul old ones and send them on to a second life with a fresh update. And the drives perform with the same dynamics and precision as on the first day,” says Peter Pühringer, Managing Director at Stäubli Robotics Germany.
In addition to energy consumption, the service life of the robots is the determining factor for sustainability. Stäubli relies on drive technology developed in-house with a far above-average service life for its robots, the company explains. A real plus in terms of sustainability comes from the flexibility of the robots. A classic, highly automated production line with stationary conveyor technology in the automotive industry, for example, lives just as long as the vehicle model it is used to produce.