7 trends in robotic automation relevant to the medical device industry
Robotic technology nowadays is being seen as the standard of progress in many different industries. Healthcare assisting robots are a new thing now, and therefore, it has been specially studied and developed to improve the handling of patients and being used in this sector more than ever. These robots vary a lot depending on the intended use, as there are numerous ways to use robots in the healthcare sector. The medical industry is progressing with the integration of robots & automation across all the areas. For example, robotic surgical systems are a perfect example of how robotic technology in the medical industry is acting as a catalyst and is forever helping this sector in its crucial stage of development. And you can note that, if the current rate is maintained at least not to fall, then within the next few years, this robotics industry will see rapid growth, especially in the healthcare sector.
Using robots to support medical procedures has been a subject of R&D for many years. For example, the FDA approved the da Vinci Surgical System which was known as the first robotic system. It is used in general surgery (Laparoscopy). Leading companies in medical robotics have launched several exoskeleton programs aimed at enabling patients to walk even with spinal cord injury.
Medical robotics have enormous promise, especially for surgeries requiring high precision. It’s believed that the great technological evolution like AI and cloud computing will one day eliminate the need for the surgeon to be physically present. Medical robotics development from now on will focus on preventive care and less invasive procedures to reduce the recovery time and associated cost. Another intriguing application of medical robotics is in the field of Nano surgery. In this technology, micro-robots will be operating on individual cells resulting in a wide range of possibilities in curing diseases.
There are some trends in robotic automation currently. We believe they will become some game-changers in the field of medical device and robotics industry. Let’s discuss some of those to shed more light on the topic.
The increasing use of Artificial intelligence (AI) in medical device manufacturing facilities are making the process even more accurate & efficient. In particular, machine learning is playing an important role. Machine learning enables a robot to understand, process, and then take steps in real-time, to improve the efficiency and productivity of its task.
This ability will be even more valuable in the coming days as it will serve the growing need for mass customization. Numerous medical devices will be manufactured in batch sizes of one. A COVID 19 pandemic-like event can be a prime example when many vaccines are needed to be manufactured in a small time frame.
Data Science is a fundamental concept for the lucrativeness of the medical device manufacturing industry. This importance will increase several folds in the coming years and decades. With appropriate data, these companies can do everything. They can optimize overall equipment effectiveness for developing better products to increase their customer satisfaction.
However, data collection is not the concern here. With improvements in sensor technologies and today’s cloud computing accessibility, data collection is not an issue. Therefore, data science is the key as it helps to decide what to do with the data. In other words, data science dictates the organizing, analyzing, and understanding of data.
Now we see the use of virtual solutions in robotics more and more. These virtual solutions offer us many possibilities to explore. Examples include:
- The use of mixed reality in robotics technologies enable companies to provide real-time support to their customers manufacturing facilities, regardless of location
- The increasing use of digital twins is giving us the option to implement predictive maintenance and modeling of machine performance.
- Robotic systems created in a virtual environment are letting us use them for applications such as proof of concept, to develop software for those platforms, and more.
Cybersecurity is the central priority as increasing numbers of robotics technologies are integrating into medical device manufacturing facilities. The latest Sensors, cloud connectivity, remote monitoring & control systems, and such technologies mean that these robotics technologies are not in isolation.
On the contrary, these robots are heavily dependent and interconnected to these platforms and hardware. And this connection is not just confined in the factory boundary but the entire business and supply chain. We all know that with this interaction with the internet comes the question of cybersecurity.
Therefore, we must keep the security systems regarding these technologies updated with the technological development in robotics.
The increasing rate of using collaborative robots & cobots has now become the most visible advancement in robotics technology. Collaborative robots have the unique ability to work safely alongside humans. An exciting application in this sector is the development of mobile robots that help people.
These robots are generally light-weight, small scale, and have proficiency around the factory floor. Using these collaborative robots is another step towards the automation of the entire production line. Robots like these will handle everything ranging from raw material delivery to shipping the completed product.
Robot manufacturers are now focusing on developing modular machines. One of the benefits of this modular approach is that it means multiple tasks can be performed by a single robot with its outfit. And that is as simple as swapping parts such as arms and sensors.
This technology, for example, opens the door to strategies like mixed manufacturing. Additionally, through the modular approach of manufacturing, a large number of customization becomes more feasible.
A robotic arm with more dexterity offers many upsides. Their proficiency makes them more adaptable to a range of manufacturing processes. It also helps them to implement machine learning more efficiently.
In the case of medical-device manufacturing, it is even more essential as medical devices need to be very accurate. The same applies to medical robots as they are involved in small and delicate procedures.
All in all, medical data is the main driving force of the vast improvement in the medical field. It has helped doctors create medicines curing severe diseases and instilled medical researchers’ confidence to make continuous improvements in this specific field. Hence, it has come so far with rapid advancement via AI – ML and Robotic Automation subsets.
Besides medical data, experts believe that medical surveys can also be a great means of improving the medical field. It can help medical researchers closely examine the masses’ preferences, helping them innovate and create devices catering to their specific needs.
About The Author: Elisabeth Andrew is a freelance healthcare writer. She is passionate to write about women’s health, side-hustle for doctors, medical surveys, healthcare technology and machine learning in healthcare.