Many manufacturers remain reluctant to put advanced automation systems onto their shop floors as robotics requires considerable preparation, a full understanding of complex programming language, and having enough skilled workers and system integrators. Such bottlenecks have been a major problem.
Eliminating these barriers is Columbus, Ohio-based Ready Robotics’ simplified process – a robot-agnostic online marketplace in partnership with leading providers of automation products. Ready.Market enables manufacturers to find the necessary components, empowering them to deploy automation on their own.
“By making robots easier to use, we can make automation accessible to a wider variety of manufacturers,” says Ready Robotics co-founder and CEO Benjamin Gibbs. “But, making robots easy to use is just one barrier that we can solve in terms of making automation more accessible. The market also serves as a tool for designing and sourcing automation.”
Intuitive, streamlining software
The marketplace focuses on usability. Most industrial robots require complex, time-consuming programming for each product. However, Ready’s Forge/OS platform enables any worker, even without a robotics background, to program a system.
The entire Ready.Market product line is compatible with the Forge/OS software, which provides a simplified interface, unlocking the full range of robot brands, sizes, and speeds for manufacturers.
Forge/OS enables plug-and-play integration of robots, peripherals (including end-of-arm tooling), feeders, and machine tools. Its visual programming application controls the entire solution, not only robot movement, allowing task setups to be completed in hours instead of weeks.
“The mission we have with the Forge/OS and Ready.Market is to enable other people to find standardized solutions they can either deploy as-is or modify themselves and easily add additional components to meet their specific needs,” Gibbs says.
The open marketplace also helps grow modular automation, an influential concept for more efficient operations and scalable production.
Modular automation systems simplify production setup, for example by having different cells work together, allowing manufacturers to achieve flexible operations and develop customized products.
Gibbs explains that growing these types of modular systems is also critical because of the manufacturing skills gap that’s leaving more than 500,000 manufacturing jobs unfilled.
“McKinsey released a survey last summer that identified the top challenges preventing manufacturers from scaling up with robotic automation. One major factor was the lack of a common programming interface to control the different types of hardware available, which is what we seek to address with Forge/OS. The other major setback was that they didn't have enough people to handle the complexity of deploying automation,” Gibbs notes.
Users must understand mechanical design, electrical wiring, software programming, and development to successfully deploy robot cells. If manufacturers can also develop a deep understanding of robot kinematics and learn how to program in PLCs, then it’s easier to lessen preparation time and quickly scale up. Ultimately, simplifying programming and interconnections will allow users to capture value faster and reduce the amount of time it takes to pay back their investments.
Modular components that easily fit together in a seamless fashion also open the automation market to a much larger band of individuals who understand their manufacturing problems very well and can adopt these systems to overcome challenges.
“By pairing this with other aspects that we offer, such as Ready Academy, you can take modular automation components, learn how to use them very quickly through our education demos on the app, deploy them, and then upskill your workforce to do the same. A positive feedback loop can also be created where automation begets more automation,” Gibbs adds.
Current, future needs
Ready Robotics selected all hardware and components in Ready.Market to work together cohesively. Parts presentation, workholding, end of arm tooling, and robots function well together to reduce design and sourcing complexity. Systems are no longer fragmented by different programming languages or teach pendant interfaces. Standard connections and controllable operating systems streamline everything, helping build a factory floor robust enough for any possible production interruption.
“It’s critically important for the American economy, and frankly, the global economy, to be able to more quickly deploy large amounts of robotic automation because we need to have the ability to make more and do so without worrying about supply chain disruption.”
Ready Robotics https://www.ready-robotics.com