Mobile Workforce Group
This special interest group covers mobile technologies and approaches that are helping utilities do business today.
Mobile Workforces Become Robotic
- Dec 4, 2022 3:42 pm GMT
Recent advancements in areas, like navigation, manipulation, and functionality, present energy companies with a new mobile workforce option: robots. The devices have the potential to help these companies address labor shortages, improve efficiency, and reduce costs. Consequently, interest in and deployments of the space aged devices is rapidly rising.
The drive by technology vendors to deliver autonomous vehicles extends beyond the automotive market. In addition, they are building a wide range of intelligent equipment, which is becoming smarter, more flexible, more practical, and more cost-effective.
The Internet of Things (IoT) brings network connectivity to everyday objects, essentially outfitting robots with mobile sensors to collect data. These products have localized navigation and computer vision systems, powered by machine learning algorithms, to guide them. Increased processing power, better batteries, and improved sensor have all had roles in making robots appealing. Therefore, their use cases are growing. The mobile solutions are being built to handle industrial applications, such as inspecting power lines and grounding live wires.
The timing of the advances seems right for a couple of reasons. Managing utility assets has become more complex. Health, safety, security, and environmental standards seemingly become more stringent daily. Energy companies are under pressure to cap personnel costs. Therefore, they need to automate manual functions.
In addition, utilities along with other traditional industries face severe labor shortages, especially for positions, like linemen and facility staff. Millennials do not seem interested in such jobs. The current workforce is aging, and a rising number of employees are opting for retirement, creating a growing void.
Furthermore, they are increasingly emphasizing workplace safety. Many outdoor positions place individuals in risky situations. Injuries and even deaths occur because of the weather or terrain. Deploying quadrupeds to perform tasks, like safety inspections, eliminates those possibilities.
Another plus is robotic systems are more dependable than humans. The devices never call in sick, do not forget to complete a task, and follow instructions to the letter.
Interest Grows but Challenges Remain
Because of the benefits, shipments of outdoor mobile robots are expected to grow at a rapid rate. In 2021, suppliers sold 40,000 units, and the number is expected to reach 350,000 in 2030, a CAGR of 27%. according to global intelligence firm ABI Research.
However, the change presents energy companies with a few challenges. Currently, they lack experience with these solutions. Therefore, they need to rely on third parties and training companies to fill the void.
The technology is new and still emerging. Consequently, it lacks needed features and require a great deal of customization and integration work.
Maintaining a mobile workforce has been challenging for energy suppliers. Autonomous robotic solutions are emerging to augment their mobile workforces, making manual jobs safer, and reducing costs. As a result, utilities are adopting these systems in growing numbers.
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