A New Frontier: How Automation is Changing These 6 Industries

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Updated 11/27/2023

For the longest time, automation has been mostly synonymous with manufacturing. But now, with advancements in automation technology, almost every industry is finding a way to leverage solutions like machine vision, robotics, artificial intelligence, motion control and more—for the better.

From coping with the rising scarcity of labor and supply chain issues to gaining more visibility and analytics of operational needs, the opportunities are waiting to be unlocked. Just take these six industries that are using automation to pave a new way forward.

Automation in Retail

Customer service means everything in retail. But when employees are overloaded with tasks or shutdowns like from the COVID-19 pandemic, that service can falter. Add an e-commerce boom to the equation, and many retailers are left looking for new or innovative ways to meet demand. With robotic solutions, retailers have the ability to free human workers from routine tasks and let them focus on providing the best customer experience—virtually or in person.

Retail heavy hitters, like Walmart and Lowe’s, are experimenting with automated solutions like self-checking shelves, embedded vision and picking robots to streamline their floor operations.

And yet the biggest benefit of retail automation is its ability to capture and process even the smallest amount of data. Whether it’s spotting shoplifters or tracking customers’ buying patterns, combining AI with the Internet of Things (IoT) is revolutionizing the ways stores work—and understand their customers.

Automation in Grocery

Robotic solutions aren’t limited to big retail stores either. In fact, a growing number of grocery stores and supermarkets are benefiting from employing autonomous robots.

Friendly-looking, multi-purpose droids like Marty the Robot can roam grocery stores greeting customers, cleaning up spills and keeping shelves stocked. At the same time, heavy-duty robots can work in the storeroom unloading trucks and storing goods before they’re sent out to the store floor.

Perhaps the most impressive example of automated grocery stores is the Amazon Go stores. Instead of cashiers and kiosks, they use machine vision and AI (or “Just Walk Out Technology” as they call it) to create an expedited and contactless experience.

Automation in Construction

Construction work is notoriously hard on the body and it’s easy to see why—repetitive motions, heavy objects, dangerous power tools, etc. But by integrating robots into their worksites, construction companies have found that they can cut back on accidents and costs while also ramping up their productivity.

While human workers need breaks, construction droids (such as swarm robots) can do repetitive tasks like bricklaying or moving heavy materials like cement columns or bags over and over again.

Robots are also incredibly precise, making them ideal for highly delicate tasks such as welding column joints or shaping cement columns. But more importantly, they can do dangerous tasks like demolition work without jeopardizing worker safety.

Automation in Agriculture

From the surge in food demand to the emphasis on more sustainable growing practices, many farmers are looking to solutions like precision technology and automation as a way to increase their crop yields.

Automated agricultural machinery equipped with machine vision, sensors and AI can control every life stage of a crop. Farmers armed with smart drone technology can also monitor, fertilize and successfully fight off damage from pests and disease.

Meanwhile, indoor farmers are using automation to save water, monitor crop health, and pick even the most delicate herbs and flowers without damaging them, like with OnRobot’s RG6 gripper.

Automation in Food Processing

Preparing food with consistent quality requires years of practice and non-stop vigilance—unless you have a robot on hand.

From slaughterhouses to restaurants, food processing companies and manufacturers across the board are exploring how automation can help them sort, mix, make, cook and bake large amounts of food with minimal human help. And, of course, without compromising the taste or safety of their products.

Just take the Cake Sculptor for example: using a simple app, bakeries can create visually stunning designs and then let a robotic arm, like from ABB Inc., reproduce hundreds of birthday or wedding cakes.

The same principle applies to many other food processing plants, from packaging consumer goods to the precision cutting needed in meatpacking factories.


Armed with embedded vision systems, thermal imaging and sophisticated sensors, security and surveillance systems can scan a premise for possible threats like fire hazards or spills, detect movements or intruders, and even know if the doors are locked.

Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) and legged bots with vision systems can also be used as roving security bots. In fact, the military and law enforcement have been using mobile robotics for patrols, exploring dangerous environments and gathering intel for decades—with new advancements continuing to unlock new possibilities.

Are you ready to see how automation can change the game for your business? Then join us at the Automate show in Chicago, Illinois, May 6–9, 2024.


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