Large companies have always had an advantage in a world where new technologies are being developed at breakneck speeds. It’s easy to see how this would be true when looking into the future of cobots—aka collaborative robots.
These advanced machines will change our notions about what types or operations can actually take place in one factory with just its own staff. They make production lines more efficient while also boosting employee productivity by doing tasks such as installing parts onto finished products seamlessly without human assistance.
However, technological advances in more affordable collaborative robots today makes it easier for SMEs to compete effectively with the larger corporations. Cobot’s application is growing at a breakneck pace in capabilities, broadening their flexibility and functionality.
What Are Cobots?
Ordinarily, cobots are movable robotic arms made to work efficiently, safely close, and alongside human workers. The intended purpose of cobot is to make the workers’ jobs easier by taking over the more tedious and physically challenging activities.
Cobot utilize a robotic arm attached to an autonomous mobile robot (AMR) to obtain a solid mobile operation with the highest flexibility and efficiency possible. Integrating a robotic arm allows for broader use of cobots capabilities. It also makes it possible for a significant number of workers to use the cobot in a more extensive range of applications.
What Are the Benefits of Cobots?
Cobots are quickly growing with increased adaptability and extensive applications across various industry sectors. The following are some of the most apparent benefits of collaborating robots.
1. Collaboration with Humans
Cobots can collaborate in a flexible and versatile manner with human workers. Getting people and robots to work together has not always been straightforward but integrating cobots at the workplace makes that outdated. Staff can set up and customize cobots to perform tedious, repetitive, and physically exhausting tasks, allowing them to focus on more rewarding work.
2. Easy To Set Up and Program
It usually takes a few days (or even weeks) to install an industrial robot before it starts functioning fully. On the other hand, Cobots are easy to set up and program, making collaboration possible within the shortest time possible.
It is easier to move cobots about because they are smaller than their industrial counterparts are. They are easy to move between stations with little effort and without wasting any valuable time. Collaborative robots have not only flexible and dynamic hardware but also adaptable software.
Their interactive software makes implementations easy to deploy and redeploy many tasks and process flows, creating a versatile automated remedy that can enhance diverse manufacturing processes.
In addition, the arm attachments on these robots are interchangeable. The flexibility of the cobot is unlike that of industrial robots, which may necessitate significant hardware upgrades.
4. Improved Repeatability and Consistency
One of the most significant advantages of any robot, notably collaborative robots, is their capacity to perform repetitive tasks consistently. Monotony can lead to boredom and errors. Cobots are ideal for monotonous, labor-intensive jobs, which save people from performing chores that can cause damage or result in wasted time due to inactivity.
With cobots, workers do not have to worry about the risk of repetitive strain injury injuries or exhaustion that a human may experience. By delegating these clerical duties to cobots, people can focus on higher-value tasks without risking burnout or injury.
5. Improved Safety
Robot arms in conventional manufacturing, such as those used in automobile factories, are incredibly powerful, but they cannot recognize and prevent impediments. It was necessary to separate them from the public to avoid mishaps.
Because of their increased intelligence, cobot arms can work side by side with humans safely, lowering the likelihood of injuries. Humans can work at safe distances from one another and potentially dangerous machinery by using mobile robots.
6. Saves Floor Space
Another of the most appealing features of cobots is their small footprint, which helps businesses conserve valuable floor space.
They enable a tremendous amount of tool movement freedom while also saving workspace and facilitating reach-in and reach-around operations in just about any process. In addition, they have adjustable bases, making it easier to position and orient them.
7. Productivity Gains and Performance Improvement
The primary goal of automation is to maximize the productivity of a process by making the most of your resources while minimizing costs. There are fewer mistakes; workers have more time for other activities, and overall production rises.
The initial cost of installing and outfitting cobot might seem costly though it is still cheaper than implementing a conventional industrial robot. However, in the long haul, it saves the company money by cutting costs and, in most cases, even generates profits.
8. Employee Satisfaction
It is more likely that employees will enjoy their jobs more if they get all the support they need in their efforts. Cobots perform tedious and repetitive allowing humans to perform duties that encourage initiative, problem-solving, and creative thinking.
Therefore, cobots create a pleasant work environment that prevents repetitive strain injury (RSI), which takes place after repeating the same for an extended period.
Cobots reduce employee absence rates, enhance participation in their work, provide a better working environment, and improve morale. They add value to the individual development of every employee in the end.
Disadvantages of Collaborative Robots
Just like every other machine, collaborative robots have the following disadvantages.
1. Cannot Handle Heavy-Duty Applications
Cobots typically handle payloads of 3 to 10 kg, while some variants may manage 35 kilograms. On the other hand, some six-axis robots may lift as much as 2 tons depending on the application.
2. Limited Speed
Safety is the primary concern of the cobot; therefore, using it at high speed is impossible. Standard cobots move at a speed of 250 mm per second, which is four times slower than the speed of a regular industrial robotic arm.
The lower speed ensures more safety for the workers at the cost of increased cycle time. As a result, cobots are not the ideal solutions for applications that necessitate rapid response times.
3. Cobots Are Not Entirely Self-Sufficient
There are some disadvantages to a robot-human collaboration. Although cobots can operate around the clock, they still require human aid or monitoring when the rest of the workforce departs the plant for the night. On the other hand, industrial robots may operate at total capacity even when no human personnel are present.
4. It Can Be Challenging To Get a Cobot’s Safety Certification
It may be challenging to get a cobot’s safety clearance as there are so many regulations in place, and because relocating the cobot, changing its responsibilities, or changing its toolset may necessitate an additional safety accreditation.
An approved notifying body must complete this as part of the CE-marking documentation process. For example, modifications to the cobot’s initial purpose are vital when installing a new gripper with pointed edges. As a result, an additional safety authorization is necessary, which might cost the organization time and money.
The prospect of production is bright with the advent of collaborative robots. Cobots prove that AI and automation do not replace human workers. Instead, they help enhance the production processes with more precision and consistency.
Cobot also collaborates with the human staff, providing a safer working environment and taking over the more tedious and hazardous tasks. It is also possible to customize some units to other jobs. Besides collaboration, cobots are cost-effective, flexible, adaptable, and affordable.
For manufacturers and investors alike, cobots are enticing because they increase production, help corporations realize their ROI faster, and are fun to work with side by side.