Collaborative robots are now accepted in many large and small manufacturing entities. Over the last decade, since they were introduced, they were viewed with skepticism. However, continuous improvement on thor functionality and features has seen their uptake into factories and other entities grow.
One of the major reasons for their increased acceptance is their affordability. Compared to other types of robots, collaborative robots have a quick return on investment. The other is their features.
Here are some of the major features of collaborative robots that make them a staple in manufacturing going forward.
Easy To Program
Unlike other robots, when a factory buys a collaborative robot, they don’t have to hire a specialized robot programmer. Because the collaborative robot is simply made and is easy to understand and use. Only a short training is required to operate it.
Its user interface is similar to a smartphone. Anyone who can use a smartphone can use a collaborative robot. You can program the robot by feeding in instructions through this interface. The robot will understand and implement as instructed.
You can also teach the robot how to perform certain activities manually. You can do this by holding the robot arm and getting it into the motions to complete the task.
As technology advances, advanced cobots with access to the internet can teach themselves how to perform tasks in the factory.
Collaborative robots are small. Thus you can use it to collaborate on tabletop tasks and other tasks around the factory.
A small robot with a limited reach easily collaborates with human workers. It can work alongside the human employees in tasks that need passing products from one end to another during production.
Besides working alongside human workers, small industrial collaborative robots can be set up next to other machines and collaborate with them.
Further, due to its size, small manufacturers with little space can buy collaborative robots. As factory leases become expensive, manufacturers need to use their space optimally. Collaborative robots allow this to happen easily due to their high levels of productivity coupled with their small size.
Flexible Robot Arm
This is the main feature of the collaborative robot. The collaborative robot’s arm has six degrees of flexibility. As a manufacturer, this means that with a smaller and cheaper robot, you can manufacture the same product.
The flexibility of the cobot robot arm makes it a powerful robot on the factory floor. It enables manufacturers to eliminate bottlenecks in the design and finishing of their products. It also makes it easier for the collaborative robot to take on different tasks within the factory.
Further, the robot arms on the collaborative robots can handle weights of between 3 to 16kg. This makes collaborative robots ideal for thousands of manufacturing entities around the world.
Another significant feature of collaborative robots is that they are mobile. Mobile robots mean they can be set up anywhere in the factory. Thus you can get them wherever they are required in the factory.
Different tasks carried out in different parts of the factory can be completed with ease. Once the robot has finished its task on one side, it is switched off and moved to the other side. It is then plugged and programmed ready for the next task.
Collaborative robots can complete a range of tasks in the factory. This is a significant feature of these robots that has increased their uptake with manufacturers. Rather than buy multiple robots for different tasks, manufacturers buy one robot and use it for all the tasks.
To enable this, the cobots have end-of-arm effectors. These are appendages of the robot that enable it to perform a range of tasks.
There are end-of-arm effectors that allow the robot to perform tasks such as painting, pick and place, vision, quality inspection among other tasks.
The effectors are bought together with the collaborative robots. As a manufacturer, you will buy only the effectors that you will need in your factory. You can determine the effectors you need based on the tasks that you will assign the robot in your factory.
Collaborative robots are inherently safe to use. Traditional robots had to be fenced away from workers while collaborative robots don’t require fencing. Collaborative robots can work safely alongside human workers.
Cobots have in-built safety sensors. These sensors help the robot to sense human presence. Consequently, the robot slows down and reduces its working force. When human presence is gone, the robot proceeds with its tasks at optimum level.
They also have anti-collision sensors for when they work side by side.
Additionally, cobots are made of smooth stainless steel. They have smooth, rounded corners as an extra safety feature. The rounded corners ensure that anyone who comes into contact with the robots is not injured.
The stainless steel material they are made from doesn’t corrode. Thus, collaborative robots can be assigned tasks handling hazardous materials without a problem. These tasks can then be taken away from human workers on whom they may cause health problems.
Another attractive feature of collaborative robots that makes them suitable for manufacturing is their price. Collaborative robots are an affordable method of manufacturing automation. Unlike other methods of automation, their cost isn’t prohibitive.
The return on investment for those with collaborative robots is about two years. This fast return is enabled by the affordable price and the immediate effect of the robot on the manufacturer’s productivity.
Collaborative robots also don’t have additional costs such as a specialized programmer and regular service and maintenance costs. Collaborative robots rarely break down and are highly efficient in their production.
They also produce high-quality products that help to improve the financial strength of the manufacturer.
These are some of the main features that have made collaborative robots as attractive as they are to manufacturers. Business leaders predict their increased uptake in different industries for different tasks. Fortunately, collaborative robots are adaptable and can function efficiently in any setup.