We briefly mentioned about Cobots in our very early blogs when we spoke of big technologies disrupting manufacturing. You can read the blog here.
Let’s understand COBOTs better.
Cobots are Collaborative Robots and these are robots that are meant to work along side humans. Cobots can take up difficult, dull, risky or repetitive jobs while us humans can work on jobs that are truly a value addition – like strategising, innovating, researching, etc. Cobots have in them to disrupt the manufacturing world. This is estimated to be USD 3.3 billion industry by 2022.
Cobots as a disrupting technology!
Cobots are developed to be much effective (read smarter) than the industrial robots known so far. They are designed to operate like any other worker. Cobots are great for SME Manufacturers. Here’s a look at how Cobots make a difference.
Cobots are not expensive. Some reports price Cobots at USD 25k at an average. However, since they are developed to work like humans, they can take up risky or repetitive jobs and can protect the company any additional manpower costs and related expenses – salary rise, insurance, bonus, incentive, accommodation, etc.
High on Safety
Cobots work as humans and are not like huge machineries that have long, arms that are heavy and cover a distance in motion and risk hitting workers in its zone. The sensors embeded in the Cobots halt action on scanning an object/human in its path.
Tuned to be efficient
The collaborative approach of Cobots means that the work flow is better streamlined and therefore higher levels of efficiency achieved. Cobots are organised to do specif tasks at pre-decided speeds. This makes the outcome consistent.
‘Trainable’ by a non-techie
The idea of Cobots is to make the task easier to manage. Therefore, people who build the Cobots ensure that they are easy to train and operate. Once the Cobot is delivered the concerned shop floor team would be able to train the Cobot to perform its duties. No help from a software person would be required.
Flexible & Adaptable
Cobots are developed to adapt to situations. This is so because they may be required to handle multiple activities than just one. They are built to be trained for different tasks.
PICK & PLACE: Cobots are used for repetitive manual pick and jobs that was hitherto performed by workers. The unchallenging and boring nature of certain jobs can lead to performance errors, physical strain or even injure workers. Cobots are programmed to pick an object and place in a different part of the process. Some examples of Pick & Place jobs are (a) packaging, (b) sorting (c) place or remove objects from conveyor.
MACHINE TENDING: Jobs where a worker attend to a process requiring them to stand for a long duration in front of the machine. Cobots work effectively for such jobs in fact allowing for several machines to be handled by a cobot simultaneously. Cobots deployed for such jobs would require an interface directing the Cobot on what needs to be done.
PACKAGING & PALLETIZING: This is an extension of the pick and place jobs. Items can be readied for shipment by Cobots – performing duties like wrapping, putting in boxes, labelling, loading, etc. Using conveyor tracking means this job is seamlessly performed.
PROCESS TASK: Cobots are good for attaching/welding. Jobs that are time consuming, risky. Cobots handle repetitive actions and those requiring precision. Cobot systems are easy to programme – by what is known as place and position record methods or by a traditional CAD/CAM programming method.
FINISHING TASKS: Jobs that require heavy power to handle a tool are candidates for Cobots to take over. For example, drilling work using heavy duty hammer drills. A cobot designed for the purpose provide the required power, repeatedly, for such jobs. Other finishing jobs are as follows: (a) polishing, (b) grinding, (c) hammering, (d) drilling, (e) excavating, (f) welding and more.
QUALITY INSPECTION: Cobots are good for quality check/inspection work as well. Cobots fitted with cameras can inspect by capturing images of the product and comparing them with CAD drawings.