Tech Expert's Robotic Trio

Focus: TECHNOLOGY

Rob DeFrancesco Image Rob DeFrancesco Founder, Tech-Stock Prospector

Prepare for a wave of commercial robots and drones; automation is a major force behind the new economy, asserts technology specialist Rob DeFrancesco, editor Tech-Stock Prospector.

Manufacturers have been early adopters of automation because the technology improves operating efficiency and reduces costs on the factory floor.

Looking ahead, additional industries will embrace automation as robots become cheaper to build and more capable. Once robots are able to perform a broader array of tasks, more industries will sign on.

Research firm Gartner calls automation “the next frontier of IT.” By 2020, IDC predicts worldwide spending on robotics will more than double to $188 billion from $91.5 billion last year.

IDC looks for smarter, more collaborative robots that are 3 times faster than current versions. In two years, IDC predicts expanded adoption outside of manufacturing sectors. The firm eventually sees robots connected to a mesh network of shared intelligence.

When it comes to investment plays, NVIDIA (NVDA) is one standout way to participate in the automation trend..

The chipmaker has a strong positioning in GPU-based deep learning (DL), a breakthrough technology within machine learning (ML), itself an essential tool to enable artificial intelligence (AI).

With AI technology, robots will be a lot smarter. IDC expects 60% of robots in 2020 will be dependent on cloud-based cognitive software to define their skills and capabilities.

DL enables software to write itself by learning from a large quantity of data sources. NVIDIA’s programmable GPUs are key to handling the enormous amounts of data and computational activity needed to train and deploy networks of robots.

Rockwell Automation (ROK) is one of the leading providers of automation hardware and software for automotive assembly and other manufacturing processes.

The company’s AutoSuite software helps improve quality and speed up time-to-market across the automotive supply chain, while PharmaSuite ensures drugmakers properly adhere to regulatory compliance guidelines.

For manufacturers, the CPGSuite is a performance management solution that allows users to set factory performance goals and track progress in real time.

Lincoln Electric Holdings (LECO) designs and manufactures fixed table, turntable and positioning robotic welding systems for the factory floor.

Small manufacturers are drawn to the company’s Auto-Mate pre-engineered robotic cells because of the entry-level price points and quick installation times.

The company’s larger systems are easily expandable and can be customized to accommodate a variety of different tools.

Lincoln Electric’s iRVision robotics vision system uses cameras and sensors to provide 2D or 3D robot guidance and error proofing.

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