Cobot manufacturers know the importance of collaboration between robots and humans. Robots in the manufacturing industry are used for repetitive jobs and manual work. They are often better at these types of jobs than human workers. Plus, robots are necessary for some work that humans can’t do, or that might be dangerous to do.
While robots are doing these jobs, they free up human workers to do more value-added tasks, such as complex activities that require analytical skills and technical intelligence. Both simple and complex tasks are required within a manufacturing plant, and human-machine collaboration helps maximize efficiency for operations. That’s where cobots come in, and why they are becoming more prominent in the industrial sector.
Because cobots, also known as collaborative robots, have safety measures and programming in place, they can conveniently work in the same environment as human operators. Cobot manufacturers highlight this as a revolutionary development in robotics that truly allows robots to work side by side with humans. This means cobots have some advantages over traditional manufacturing robots and provide some additional benefits.
Cobots have several advantages over traditional industrial manufacturing robots. In addition to being quicker to install and easier to program, cobots are more flexible than your normal immovable industrial robot. These collaborative robots can physically be moved between locations within a factory and also be reprogrammed to do different jobs. Depending on the cobot and the task, some can even be moved between tasks without being reprogrammed.
Aside from being easier to implement, cobots are also a more cost-effective form of robotic automation. Cobot manufacturers are able to offer low integration costs, plus cobots in general have a much lower starting cost than conventional robots in manufacturing. Additionally, because they work with humans, cobots don’t need a protective barrier around them, which eliminates that cost entirely.
The biggest advantages of cobots, though, are the safety features that allow them to collaborate and work with humans, because it provides cobots with a higher potential to increase productivity. Cobots can increase efficiency of repetitive, difficult, and dangerous tasks, and help improve human efficiency by providing workers with time to concentrate on resolving complex issues and completing value-added work. Cobots can sense human workers and coordinate their movements around them, which creates significant opportunities to improve operations beyond the capabilities of traditional robots.
The Benefits of Using Cobots
Though there are advantages to cobots when compared to traditional robots, there are also specific benefits to using cobots — not only for individual manufacturing companies, but for the industry as well. One big impact cobot manufacturers have had is making automation more accessible. Collaborative robots have allowed small- and medium-sized manufacturers to implement automation into their operations. Experts within the robotics industry believe automation is necessary to survive in the future. Cobots are helping to ensure smaller manufacturers can remain competitive within the industry.
In addition to the accessibility aspect, cobots also maintain a lot of the benefits of automation. They can take over all repetitive tasks within manufacturing production, effectively eliminating the need for humans to do these jobs. This enhances employees’ work experiences and improves their job quality. Cobots also make significantly fewer mistakes compared to humans and can be built with equipment and software that detect product flaws during production. This improves overall product quality as well.
Being able to decrease production time and manufacture better products faster are major cobot features that impact return on investment (ROI). A benefit that many businesses see is a positive ROI within one year of installing cobots. This quick ROI is due to many factors, predominantly the increase in productivity and decrease in downtime caused by cobots.
Cobots are also attractive to potential customers, as they help manufacturers avoid production delays and stay on top of increased production. This gives peace of mind to customers who are expecting quality products in a timely manner, meaning cobots can result in more business and contracts for manufacturers.
Safety Regulations for Cobot Manufacturers
Safety is paramount when it comes to robots on the manufacturing floor, and even more so when it comes to cobots working directly alongside humans. This is why from the onset, cobot manufacturers limit the power and force capabilities of their collaborative robots. They also ensure cobots have accurate force sensing capabilities and can constantly monitor the surrounding area.
If a cobot senses unexpected or abnormal amounts of force, it can quickly stop any movement. On the rare occasion there is human contact, cobots are designed in a way that prevents severe injuries. They are smaller and use human-equivalent speeds to match human-scaled operations, which — paired with their sensitivity to force and resistance — make cobots much safer for humans to work alongside within a manufacturing facility.
Cobot manufacturers also have to meet certain safety standards, such as Robotics Industry Association requirements, to further ensure their products are safe. These requirements include formal risk assessments, safety validation testing, and specific documentation to ensure cobots are safe before production even begins.
With such considerations going into these machines, it’s no wonder cobots are making such an impression within the manufacturing industry. As the need for automation becomes a necessity, collaborative robots will be hailed for their cost-effectiveness, accessibility, and versatility.
To learn more about cobots and meet with industry-leading cobot manufacturers, attend WESTEC.