Collaborative Cobots as an Automation Tool
With the rising need to help solve labour shortages, increase productivity and improve the quality of the products, many manufacturers are turning to cobotic solutions.
This is because, these robots are said to be not only flexible, cost effective but also they are seen as the best automation solution for diverse range of production applications.
Cobots are generally designed to work alongside humans, sharing a common physical workspace. Cobots are not only empowering humans in having more satisfying jobs but also they are greatly improving the work conditions.
Collaborative solutions are widely being applied in various industries such as food and beverage, electronics, education, healthcare, aerospace, defence and security.
Areas in Which Cobots can be Applied
Machines such as injection modelling and CNC usually require the presence of a person to stand for long hours in order to tend to its operational rrequirements. While the process can be long and tedious for human workers, a single cobot can be programmed to operate multiple machines hence freeing up the human operators while increasing productivity.
Pick and Place;
This is one of the repetitive tasks that humans are forced to perform today. While the repetitive physical movements can lead to injury or strain, the mundane nature of the task can often result in mistakes. Cobots are being used to take up these pick and place tasks such as picking workpieces and placing them in a different location.
This may include welding, dispensing or gluing processes. The cobots are fitted with end reflectors to enable them to hold sealants, glue, welding torch and solder paste. While training new workers for such tasks can take a lot of time, it only requires the programming of one cobot to perform the task and copying to the rest.
After the pick and place, products also require packaging and compressing before they leave the factory ready for shipment. Tasks such as box assembly and loading, shrink wrapping and box placing are ideal for cobots due to their repetitive nature.
By mounting different high-resolution cameras on cobots can help speed up the process of quality inspection while giving more accurate results. The quality inspection process includes verification of parts, inspection of finished parts and resolution quality of precision machine parts.
Some of the many advantages that are being seen in companies that have embraced the use of collaborative cobots include;
Increased Return on Investment
The use of collaborative technology is leading to increased ROI in just less than year for companies that have invested in cobots. Besides the technology being attractive to many customers, it is also helping in increasing productivity while reducing labour costs.
Human and Cobot Efficiency
Since cobots share a common physical workplace with the human workers, performing of tasks become very easy and fast as the two work alongside each other. Cost, time and floor space is greatly reduced. A research has revealed that teams made of cobots and humans tend to be more productive as compared to the teams made of either humans or robots alone.
Complex and Dangerous Tasks
Complicated and Dangerous Tasks that human workers cannot undertake can be easily performed by cobots. This will lead to humans paving a way for them to rely on robots in the improvement of more complicated and dangerous techniques.
Useful to SME’s
Small and medium-sized enterprises can benefit from cobots by applying them to perform various applications such as sorting, polishing, packaging, dispensing, loading and unloading of products. The use of an universal robot which is smarter, cheaper and accessible is the best option for automation in SME’s.
As artificial intelligence technology advances, more and more companies are embracing cobots as a way of increasing productivity. As collaborative robots continue to be embraced across a wide range of business sizes, their benefits will continue to increase. Cobots are gradually evolving from the traditional heavy duty industrial applications to enhancement of augmenting and assistance skills.