Delhi: New robotic tech for ultrasound with doctor at arm’s length

an ultrasound imaging be done from a remote location? A research collaboration between IIT Delhi and AIIMS New Delhi has made this a reality with their new jointly developed Telerobotic Ultrasound System. The research team at IIT Delhi was led by Prof. Chetan Arora and Prof. Subir Kumar Saha, while Dr. Chandrashekhara was responsible from AIIMS. Mr. Suvayan Nandi was the lead contributor from Addverb Technologies.

The other research team members include Mr Deepak Raina (PMRF Research Scholar, IIT Delhi); Dr. Krithika Rangarajan, Dr. Ayushi Agarwal, (AIIMS, New Delhi); and Hardeep Singh (Addverb).

The system allows remote ultrasound access through a robotic arm. In the routine ultrasound setting, the doctor (Radiologist) stands in close contact with the patient for the entire scan duration. However, cross-sectional imaging is preferred instead in the current pandemic scenario with stringent social distancing requirements – a more expensive and less dynamic technique. Ultrasonography is a non-invasive, non-ionizing, cost-effective, rapid, bedside, and readily available modality with immense use in point-of-care and follow-up examinations.

Robotics is going to play a definite role going forward

We all know, that past one to two years have been real challenge for all the verticals, and automobile was one of the worst hit at that point of time. Now it is picking up. We have seen a lot of challenges in automobile supply chain in past, which has been there, this V shape, recovery means, we really need the supply chain to be more robust. We want supply chain to be from the standpoint that’s able to take this kind of demand, which is expected to be there in next year or two years, hoping that the pandemic goes down, and, there is no there is no third wave coming in.

Biggest challenge which I would like to mention is, overstocking, storage and right inventories, because visibility is not there. You need to be controlling the supply chain from all aspects. I will also talk about the pandemic effects which have actually affected supply chain and how things are moving as far as supply chain is concerned and what all needs to be done. Further Singh says, the majority of supply chain professionals today, already use some level of efficient tools, we know most of which only work on one specific task. So due to this complexity on the supply chain tasks, many tools can become a burden to managers right now. Often takes longer times for audit, and the reason for that is it’s totally manual or there is some level of automation, which is related to barcodes or rfid. Here robotics along with wms is going to play a definite role going forward, that’s what is going to improve the storage, inventory stage and overstocking of the supply chain.

We are seeing high demand for logistics automation due to pandemic: Addverb Co-founder

Addverb’ is one of the leading robotics and automation firm in the intralogistics solutions space. By leveraging various digital technologies, the company has designed its own software solutions that are embedded in the hardware for accomplishing a task. The company currently works with many large e-commerce players and fashion retailers to automate their warehousing process. In a conversation with Bizz Buzz, company’s Co-founder Bir Singh said that the company has opened offices in overseas market in the last one year and has plans to set up a centre in the US soon. Such overseas expansion will help the company to bag more orders. The technology firm aims to attain $1 billion revenue mark in the next five years and is in talks with investors to raise its next round of funding in the near future, which will enable it to set up another manufacturing unit.

Importance of Artificial Intelligence and its impact on humanity

Alexa! What is Artificial Intelligence? “Artificial Intelligence is the study of devices that perceive the environment and take action that maximize their chance of success at some goal, more commonly is used to describe when machines are seen as mimicking human cognitive functions such as learning and problem solving”. Well, isn’t that convenient.

Artificial intelligence (AI), a radical concept developed by computer scientists in the 1950s, has tremendous applications in our daily lives today. It has come to play a crucial role in manufacturing, healthcare, finance, marketing and more. Companies and people worldwide are relying on machine learning, robotics and artificial intelligence to improve their products, processes and customer experience. Whether it’s the cars we drive, computers that predict the weather, toys that learn to interact with children, or writing computer codes, AI is changing the way we live, work and play.

Next phase of industrialization has already begun in India

The emergence of Industry 5.0 as concept and as reality is based on the idea of human-robot collaboration to combine the intelligence of both for getting accurate and faster results. The term Industry 5.0 refers to people working alongside robots and smart machines. It’s about robots helping humans work better and faster by leveraging advanced technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data. It adds a personal human touch to the Industry 4.0 pillars of automation and efficiency.

As machines in the workplace get smarter and more connected, Industry 5.0 is aimed at merging those cognitive computing capabilities with human intelligence and resourcefulness in collaborative operations. The pairing of human and machine workers opens the door to countless opportunities in manufacturing. And since the use cases of Industry 5.0 are still in their relative infancy, manufacturers should be actively strategising ways to integrate human and machine workers to maximise the unique benefits that can be reaped as the movement continues to evolve.


Artificial Intelligence: A game changer for manufacturers

Even as the disruption caused by the pandemic in the manufacturing and supply chain industries makes companies hold back investment in high technology; leadership teams continue to look for Artificial Intelligence (AI) to address their revenue generation and cost effectiveness concerns.

“A large number of manufacturing companies, and supply chains as a collateral, have had to halt their operations. Many SMEs and large manufacturing plants have halted or postponed any new technology upgrade in their factories in order to recover from the losses caused by the lockdown and economic slowdown,” says Sangram Kadam, Vice President and Head (APAC and META) at Birlasoft.

At the same time, 94% of the 200 chief executives surveyed in India by PwC in August-September 2020, affirmed of either having adapted or planning to adopt AI in their organizations. Talking to industry experts about challenges in adaptation of new technologies in the background of the disruptions caused by pandemic, some issues find common resonance.

Inability or inattention to quantify benefits of adaptation of new technologies in terms of ROI, unavailability of applicable data, shortage of talent, disparate incompatible nature of the data available, inadequate storage facilities and slow response time are some of the issues that find common resonance among industry watcher. Extent and pace of digitization in the country, inadequate availability and training of talents, privacy and security concerns and employee resistance to change are some of the other challenges, it is felt.

Warehouse As an Assembly Line: Mobile Robotics

Robots have come a long way since their introduction in the 60s. But recently, they have found their exclusive space in the warehouses. Warehousing activities comprise of tasks such as inbound, picking, storage, movement and transfer, packing and outbound, etc. These tasks can be broken down into steps like in an assembly line and the concept of division of labor can be applied on the same. With the evolving technologies and emerging capabilities of mobile robots, the idea of human-robot collaboration has picked up the conversation across the globe. Humans can be divided to operate in the assembly line of a warehouse to carry out the above-mentioned tasks by collaborating with their robotic counterparts. In this case, autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are a simple, efficient, and cost-effective way to automate all the tasks related to storage and material movement till the dispatch of items from the warehouse where previously manual operators were required to push carts around the facility.

Some very apt application of mobile robots which has contributed to marking its own place in the warehouse are mentioned below:

Picking: AMRs are incredibly versatile. Not only can they speed up the picking process by handling the tedious task of moving products around, but some collaborative robots can guide operators through tasks by navigating to inventory locations, displaying the items and quantities to pick, directing workflows and keeping associates on task to improve the accuracy and efficiency of order fulfilment operations. AMRs can determine and follow optimised picking routes and are particularly valuable in facilitating zone and pick-and-pass picking methodologies.

Evaluating Pandemic Measures

We have witnessed a phase-wise and more calibrated lockdown in the second wave compared to the sudden lockdown in the first wave. More than the lockdown, the economy will be hit by the spread of the virus as people have been affected as Covid has spread to rural parts of the country as well. As the cases are receding now and we are seeing positivity rate falling below 5 percent, the lockdowns must be lifted in a phase-wise manner to ensure the number of infections do not rise again. We might see some casualties in businesses which have stressed balance sheets. But we see a very strong revival from Q-2 in the economy. With a good chunk of population in the West being vaccinated, their economy is opening which will fuel the export-oriented sectors and the pent-up demand will drive up consumption in the domestic sector.

Robotics As A Service Will Be The New Trend: Sangeet Kumar, Addverb Technologies

The automation market is projected to reach a valuation of $253 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 8% during the forecast period (2021-2026), as per the Global Industrial Automation Market Outlook report.

Analytics India Magazine got in touch with Sangeet Kumar, Co-founder & CEO, Addverb Technologies, to understand the ins and outs of intelligent automation and how the company is supporting its customers in implementing automated workflows.

“Our products are enabled with advanced technologies such as AI, ML and deep learning, thus giving us an edge in comparison to the existing products and players in the market,” said Kumar.


AIM: What is industrial automation? Why is it important?

Sangeet Kumar: Industrial automation uses intelligent machines in operations so that the processes can be carried out with minimal human intervention. It can be achieved through several means, including mechanical, electronic, robotics, AI, ML, deep learning for leaner operation processes that require less energy, less material, and reduced labour waste. In the current era, technological advances have overcome many of the traditional limitations of robotics and automation. A new generation of flexible and versatile robots cost far less than those used in manufacturing environments today. It can be trained by frontline staff to perform tasks previously thought to be too difficult for machines— picking and packing irregularly spaced objects, resolving wiring conflicts in large-scale projects can be taken care of with the help of industrial automation.

Manual work is getting replaced by smart robots. Demand for precise production without compromising on quality, increasing need for digital transformation across sectors – healthcare, transportation, retail and favourable government policies in the manufacturing sector are driving the industrial automation market. As the potential of IoT and interconnectivity is realised, the industry is expected to grow at a fast rate in the future.

Rise of mega distribution centres and its impact on logistics

There have been some key triggers in the last five years which have changed India’s supply chain and manufacturing sector. The rise and popularity of ecommerce in the country after internet data revolution, the growth of organised retail in major towns and cities, the implementation of GST which led to the consolidation of small warehouses, have all contributed.

These warehouses being the last touch point before the product reaches the customers, play a crucial role in the entire value chain of the business. So, companies must plan their inbound, outbound, storage and picking activities in their distribution centers (DC) to stay nimble yet capable to respond to black swan events such as corona virus.