Why the rise of autonomous machines could help workers, according to robotics CEO
Singaporean autonomous technology firm SESTO Robotics is stepping up its game as it launches the latest model of its Automated Guide Vehicles (AGVs).
Called the SESTO 300, the AGVs are customized mobile robots created specifically for the manufacturing industry to fulfill logistical roles. The company, which was spun-off earlier this year as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singaporean engineering firm HOPE Technik, announced the new product Tuesday at the Manufacturing Technology Asia conference.
SESTO Robotics CEO and co-founder of HOPE Technik, Michael Leong, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that automation “is a direction that [Singapore] is moving along as the population gets more well-educated.”
According to Leong, the average company could stand to boost efficiency by shifting toward automation and robotics.
Manpower productivity improvements “can range from 30 percent to 200 percent,” said Leong.
A tracking function embedded in the AGVs also “resolves or eliminates the chances of things” that have been “moved wrongly and inserted into the wrong station.”
Companies have saved “millions of dollars” as a result, said Leong.
Contrary to the rhetoric of robots stealing jobs, Leong said he believes robotics will “transform jobs,” especially in “high-growth-stage countries” where the population will no longer be satisfied with simple menial jobs.
“So imagine what used to be a job pushing the trolley is now changed to a robotic technician or robotic engineer to make sure these AGVs are well-managed and well-serviced,” Leong said.
What is Industry 4.0?
“This is really an exciting time for Industry 4.0 to happen,” Leong said.
Beyond the automation of single machines and processes, Industry 4.0 (also known as the fourth wave of industrialization) is the Internet of Things that digitizes and integrates complete chain processes, and grants autonomy to robotics.
“We are able to connect the digital world now better with the robotics world… in the past, where you have automation running by [itself], [the robotics] are not really plugged into your back-end software, your tracking systems.”
“But now everything can be plugged in and gelled together,” Leong said, citing the integration capabilities of SESTO Robotics’ AGVs.
SESTO Robotics is exploring the possibility of attaching “robotic arms to the AGVs” and how it could advance its automating potential in assembly and manufacturing lines. Leong also said the company plans to open two new offices in Asia, and could possibly set up in the U.S. this year.