Benefits of Using Collaborative Robots (COBOTS) for Machine Tending Solution
Industry 4.0 is all about creating “smart factories” with the help of digitization and automation. Robots and IIoT are leading the path to Industry 4.0. In addition to industrial robots, collaborative robots are also paving the way for industries to automate their everyday operation. The use of collaborative robots has multiple benefits for many applications. Before discussing the benefits of using collaborative robots for machine tending solutions, let’s first explore what collaborative robots are and how they work.
What are cobots?
Cobot is an abbreviation for Collaborative Robots. Collaborative Robots are specialized robots that are designed to work in collaboration with human beings. Unlike robots built to replace the human workforce from the manufacturing units, cobots are made to improve the human workforce’s efficiency. Therefore, cobots are not a human replacement. Instead, they are the supplement or cushion that humans need to get the job done more efficiently. Cobots work in close proximity to human beings. According to MIT’s research, productivity increases by 85% when humans and robots work together than when they are working individually.
How does cobot works?
Cobots work alongside humans in a manufacturing unit. They are ideal for repetitive work that usually consumes a lot of time and energy. Cobots are suitable for performing functions like machine tending, pick and place, packaging and palletizing, gluing, welding and inspection, etc.
Cobots are easy to set up and operate, and they do not occupy a lot of space. Cobots automate the tasks that require constant human monitoring and interactions and save time and energy for their human counterparts.
Difference between cobots and Industrial Robots
Cobots and Industrial Robots are both invented to automate the manufacturing industry and speed up the Industry 4.0 revolution. Although both cobots and industrial robots’ goal is the same, there are still some significant differences between them.
A critical difference between cobots and industrial robots is that while the former is designed to collaborate with humans, the latter completely replaces humans from the manufacturing operations.
Another difference is that cobots can be relocated easily to different locations, but industrial robots are installed in a fixed location and can not be moved around. Although cobots and industrial robots have certain differences, their goal is to bring automation to the industries.
Cobots in Machine Tending
Machine tending is a time-consuming task requiring workers to load the machine parts into machines, load material, tool changes, remove the finished products from the machines, and reload them again for the next operation. Machine tending is a long and repetitive process. With the help of cobots, the machine tending process can be made easier. A single cobot can tend multiple machines, reducing operating costs and time and increasing productivity. Industries can utilize human skills in more specialized functions that can not be completely automated.
Benefits of Using Cobots in Machine Tending
There are multiple benefits of using cobots for machine tending, such as;
- Safety: The machine tending process involves the risk of injuries and accidents. Cobots are designed with safety features to avoid the risk of accidents at the operating unit. Cobots work with a particular speed and force; therefore, they are easy to control and operate. Robots need to be kept behind a safety fence as the in-built sensors stop the robots from working when they sense any human presence. On the other hand, cobots are safe to work with and do not need to be kept under any safety fence.
- Productivity: Machine Tending consumes too much time and physical labor while performed manually by the workers. It requires repeating the same process over and over again. It is a tedious task for the workers. Cobots are specialized in performing tasks that require repetition. Cobots increase productivity by reducing the time and workforce spent on machine tending.
- Flexibility: Unlike industrial robots, cobots are smaller, easy to place and adjust, and easy to operate. If required, they can be moved to another location easily. This flexibility of cobots is highly beneficial for the industries as it helps in getting the job done wherever and whenever it is needed.
- Easy to use: Cobots are relatively easy to use when compared with industrial robots. The manufacturing workers can operate the cobots with minimum training. No additional skills and qualifications are required to handle the cobots, and therefore the employees can use them easily.
Cobots are revolutionizing the manufacturing, automotive, agricultural, metal and machining, and many other industries. Small and medium-sized companies benefit from cobots as they are easy to use, safe, and provide flexibility in operations. Cobots are the most suitable Industry 4.0 products as they are helping all kinds of industries automate and digitize their operations. Cobots can easily be integrated with the Industry 4.0 supported technologies in any factory to promote transparency in data collection and analysis.