In an already competitive business market, automation is what separates high-flying companies from struggling ones. Rightfully so, about 31% of organizations that automate realize lower operating costs, faster ROI, and improved worker safety within the first year.
Automation couldn’t be such a success story without the input of collaborative robots. Unlike their counterparts, industrial robots, cobots offer better value for your money in terms of productivity. But what exactly are collaborative robots?
This article explores collaborative robots in detail and answers some of the frequently asked questions about collaborative robots.
What Is a Collaborative Robot?
A collaborative robot, also known as cobot, is a robotic machine designed to work closely with humans without taking over their duties completely.
Cobots can apply to multiple industries, but numerouscollaborative robot machines are in the manufacturing and metal fabrication industry.
Most collaborative robots are able to perform simple tasks involving pick and place or without too much configuration. But to undertake advanced functions such as heaving lifting, you must be familiar with basic programming to perform operations using a collaborative robot.
Are Collaborative Robots the Ideal Automation Tool?
Most industries rely on industrial robots to perform critical internal operations. For example, the car manufacturing industry uses industrial robots to weld, assemble and paint cars.
It begs the question.
Why would a company want to replace its robotic options with collaborative robots?Below are the reasons behind collaborative robot automation:
The safety of workers is always a top priority for an organization to avoid paying millions in workers’ compensation fees for workplace-related injuries.
Collaborative robots contain motion sensors that sense when these machines come into contact with other surfaces. This reduces the risk of injuries from collusions between employees and machines in the workplace environment.
Economical on Space
Large companies looking to create extra working space or smaller businesses that want to make good use of the available room can all benefit from collaborative robot. Structurally, cobots are circular, which means they don’t take up much space. This is ideal because you don’t have to change the existing flooring plan or shift premises to accommodate these collaborative machines.
Reduced Time Spent on Repetitive Tasks
An employee can spend a considerable amount of time on one repetitive task, especially when doing it manually. This is not only time-consuming but downright counterproductive as these workers often close the day without accomplishing their goals.
Involving cobots in functions such as assembly and disassembly reduces the time workers spend on repetitive tasks.
Collaborative robots can adapt to different environments, depending on the needs of the workplace. For example, you can use a robot for smaller but risky activities, such as applying toxic glue to a surface. You can also program the cobot for labor-intensive activities like carrying heavy loads from one point to another.
In Which Situations Should You Deploy Cobots?
Introducing collaborative robots in the workplace to work alongside your employees is a big step. Therefore, you want to be sure that this move comes at the right time. Some of the factors you should consider include:
Too Simple Tasks
Some operations in an organization are too simple to waste valuable human resources on. If your workers spend their time and energy on easy tasks such as putting parts into a box or inserting screws, they may not accomplish the most essential tasks.
Instead, delegate these activities to a collaborative robot so that your employees can focus on the most essential tasks.
A worker can spend a considerable amount of time waiting for one process to complete before moving on to another. The time wasted while waiting for these processes to complete could be utilized elsewhere for better output.
Cobots can take over processes that involve long waiting periods for workers to maximize their time and be more productive.
Tasks in a company are organized from start to finish through a series of chronological steps to try and break their monotony. However, a boring task will always remain mundane to an employee no matter how you simplify it.
Unbundled tasks are best left for collaborative bots as they’re more accurate while performing these operations and won’t feel bored in the process.
How Can You Successfully Deploy a Collaborative Robot in the Workplace?
A collaborative robot is a significant addition to a working environment that impacts how you conduct operations. To ensure a successful cobot deployment, these are the things you must do:
Identify the Risks Involved in an Application
Cobots apply to different areas around the workplace. Some of the operations cobots perform put them at risk of developing technical complications in the future. For example, exposing cobots to extreme temperatures and moist environments during arc welding reduces the equipment’s lifespan.
Therefore, you should get a risk application scorecard from your manufacturer before buying a collaborative robot to make an informed choice.
Train Workers to Become Cobot Operators
Because cobots and humans will be working hand in hand to ensure the success of every operation in a company, they should acquaint early. The fastest way to get your employees to use cobots is to train them to how they work using different gadgets such as smartphones or tablets.
Note that the cobot training may take time, and to keep workers excited about this new technology, you may need to run several popularization campaigns.
Pick the Right Cobot Application Accessories
A collaborative robot can have specific accessories, depending on its application, to perform at the highest level possible. For instance, cobots that conduct palletizing operations or inspections come with end-of-arm tooling hardware to ease their operations.
That said, you must understand the different applications scenarios a cobot will be involved in to ensure the manufacturer includes the necessary accessories.
Collaborative robots have become the go-to robotic option in many industries. While some sectors greatly benefit more than others, the impact of cobots cuts across the entire marketplace. Remember that robots aren’t meant to substitute human labor but instead compliment it and, therefore, are more preferred in the workplace.