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The Importance of Continuous Power Flow in Mobile Robotic Operations

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In an increasingly automated world, the role of mobile robotics in various industries is more pivotal than ever. Robots perform a myriad of functions, from picking tomatoes in greenhouses to logistic functions in distribution centers. However, one often overlooked aspect that is crucial for the seamless operation of robots is the continuous power flow. Ensuring a consistent power supply to robotic operations is of paramount importance to guarantee operational efficiency, safety, and precision.

Understanding the Need for Continuous Power in Mobile Robotics

The Criticality of Power in Robotic Operations

Autonomous Mobile robots, especially those used in manufacturing and logistics, often perform tasks that require 24/7 availability and maintain constant throughput. Solution downtime can lead to inefficiencies, production delays, and, of course, fleet inflation due to needed unit replacements. Therefore, understanding the robotic operations’ power needs is crucial for maintaining an efficient and effective environment.

Challenges in Ensuring 100% uptime 

Ensuring constant efficiency for robotic operations is easier said than done. Several challenges can arise, from battery limitations such as size and material type to very high upfront expenditures like extra units. Implementing an effective perpetual power solution is essential to overcome these challenges and ensure seamless robotic operations.

The Consequences of Power Inefficiencies  in Mobile Robotic Operations

Operational Inefficiencies Due to Power Interruptions

Losses of power during robotic operations can lead to operational inefficiencies, such as production delays and increased costs. For example, if a robot delivering parts to an assembly line in a car manufacturing plant is running low on power, it could either lead to production delays or inflated costs due to additional units needing to be added to the duty cycle.

Residual Implications of Power Inefficiencies

Operational Inefficiencies Due to Power Interruptions

Losses of power during robotic operations can lead to operational inefficiencies, such as production delays and increased costs. For example, if a robot delivering parts to an assembly line in a car manufacturing plant is running low on power, it could either lead to production delays or inflated costs due to additional units needing to be added to the duty cycle.

Residual Implications of Power Inefficiencies

Moreover, overcoming power inefficiencies by fleet inflation results in inflated expenditures such as additional charging stations and additional battery purchasing. 

Not only do those additions cost valuable money, but they also require facility “real-estate” and force you to allocate precious space in your warehouse. Every charging station requires its own space, and in the automated charging solutions’ case, additional docking space is needed in addition to the actual charging spot. 

Safety and Logistics

Traditional power solutions rely on batteries. A much-needed transition has been made from lead-acid to Lithium-based batteries, which has dramatically increased working time and reduced ongoing maintenance. 

But this migration is not without costs- Lithium is considered a hazardous material, and Lithium-based batteries are prone to dangerous malfunctions like overheating or overvoltage, which can result in the battery catching flame and exploding.

Storage and refurbishing actions are also affected by the battery type, and although storing Lithium-based batteries is much simpler than lead-acid ones, it can still needs attention.

Perpetual Power Solutions for Robotic Operations

Overview of Perpetual Power Solutions

When stated “perpetual power”, the term does not necessarily apply to the power source itself (in a UPS meaning of constant power delivery), but in a sense that the mobile robot’s power regime allows 100% uptime without the need to stop charging. 

Therefore, a perpetual power solution will ensure that throughout a designated route, the overall power the robot consumes will be lower than the power it receives from a perpetual power system. This can be achieved by both powering the robot and charging its power source at the same time. 

Implementing Continuous Power Solutions in Robotics

Implementing continuous power solutions in robotics involves assessing the power needs of the robotic operations, selecting the appropriate power delivery method and layout, and integrating it into the existing infrastructure. It is essential to consider factors such as the power capacity required, the route itself (stopping points, distance, speed, etc.), and the cost implications when implementing these solutions.

To ensure robustness, perpetual power solutions must be able to integrate quickly and seamlessly with any robotic platform and on any kind of surface.

The Future of Continuous Power Flow in Robotics

Technological Advancements in Perpetual Power Solutions

Advancements in technology are leading to more efficient and cost-effective power solutions. For example, the development of more efficient batteries and chargers allows reducing solution downtimes. In addition, solutions like battery swaps or opportunistic charging can dramatically increase efficiency. But everything comes with a cost- better batteries are more expensive, faster chargers reduce battery life cycle, and opportunistic charging is very expensive and real-estate demanding.

Solutions exist and keep on improving, but one needs to be aware of the inherent inefficiency that each solution brings.

Ideal Perpetual Power Solutions 

Ideally, a perfect solution will ensure 100% uptime for 100% of your fleet, without the need to add additional robots to your fleet. At the same time, this solution should not inflate your ROI by causing you to invest higher upfront fees due to the perpetual power solution’s infrastructure, nor by causing additional operational expenses post-deployment.

By making sure both pre-launch and post-launch expenditures are not inflated, and by providing your automation solution with perpetual uptime, you optimize your overall efficiency and can also keep it constant.

In addition, perpetual power solutions can and should reduce the sole dependency on traditional batteries. By doing so, you gain both expenditure drops (smaller, cheaper batteries and less maintenance) and increase safety by not relying on hazardous materials.      

Interested in learning more about perpetual power? Explore the innovative power delivery system by CaPow.

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