Strategic Focus: Improving Safety With Robotics And Automation

Published 17 November 2022 by Rain Chiang & Bill Pennington &
Environment, Health & Safety Ergonomics Lone Worker Musculoskeletal Strategic Focus

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Executive Summary

Robots have automated repetitive and dangerous industrial tasks since their initial deployment in the automotive manufacturing industry in the 1960s. In 2021, the International Federation of Robotics reported that industrial robot installations had been increasing year on year by 16% on average since 2016. The trend to digitize operations has been driven in part by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has changed how firms decide to deploy human capital. Modern advancements in environmental sensors, machine vision and advanced mechanics have expanded the applicability of robots to several high-risk functions. EHS executives should recognise the increasing complexity of tasks industrial robots can automate and the implications for worker safety and plant efficiency. As a result, firms should take a holistic approach to investment in robotics and automation that accounts for these tangible and intrinsic benefits. This report outlines the key safety benefits and implementation considerations when automating human-led tasks with industrial robots. Readers can identify applicable use cases from the examples provided to help inform the implementation of robotics and automation for safety. 

Table of contents

Robotics And Automation Create Compelling Safety And Efficiency Considerations For Investment
Industrial Robots Fit Into Three Broad Categories 
The Elimination Of Human Exposure To Workplace Hazards Creates Far-Reaching Safety Benefits
Firms In High-Risk Industries Use Robotics And Automation To Perform Dangerous Tasks
Automated Industrial Robots Present Unique Implementation Considerations

Table of figures

Figure 1. An Illustration Of Industrial Robots In A Highly Automated Warehouse 
Figure 2. Case Studies Of Robotics-Enabled, Safety-Focused Processes By Industry

About the authors

Rain Chiang

Rain is an Analyst in the Verdantix Environmental, Health, and Safety practice. His current research agenda focuses on evaluating the financial return of proven EHS technologies. Prior to joining Verdantix, Rain worked at Deecon Consulting where he gained project management experience in the UK construction and telecommunications industry.  Rain holds a Master of Arts degree in Economics and Politics from the University of Edinburgh.  

Bill Pennington

VP Research, EHS & Risk Management.

Bill leads the Verdantix Environment, Health & Safety and Risk Management practice. His current agenda focuses on EHS and sustainability services, product stewardship as well as benchmarking EHS technology buyer’s budgets, priorities and preferences globally. Bill comes from a background of corporate EHS roles in the manufacturing and logistics industries. He holds an MBS degree in sustainability from the Rutgers University.

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