Is a Cobot Really What You Need?

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 Is a Cobot Really What You Need?

By Nigel Smith, CEO, TM Robotics

Over 1.7m of new industrial robots will be installed between 2017 and 2020. Collaborative robots (cobots), machines that work harmoniously alongside humans, account for 3% of this market, but wants to reach 34% by 2025. This article explains what manufacturers need to understand before they jump on the cobot bandwagon, as this investment may not be as low-risk as it appears first.

As more companies are turning to robotic automation to get ahead, now is the time to take stock, assess the application and make informed business decisions. Automating manufacturing processes is a complex issue without a one-size-fits-all solution. Some processes call for cobots, a breed of robots designed to share a workspace with human workers.

Cobots

Cobots

Cobot has been co-located to represent an unuarded, easy to integrate collection of robots that typically carry out repetitive or unsafe tasks while the human workforce performs higher-value manual tasks. The robotics industry does not acknowledge cobots as a separate entity, but instead defines industrial safety standards for when they work collaboratively with robots on the same production floor.

Some plant managers may be.

This is an important distinction, as new robotic implementers may assume that any cobot is safe for use next to humans, when in fact, this can only be determined by thorough risk assessment forecasted initially. As a result of risk assessment findings, added safety features can result in very low operating speeds or multiple stops for a cobot. Equally, those necessary safety additions are not free, adding significantly to integration costs. Both factors can have a detrimental impact on return on investment (ROI).

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Industrial Robots

Industrial robots are automatically controlled and are programmable in three or more axes and they can be unattended to an extremely broad range of unattended processes.

Improvements in safety technology is now being made available to industrial robots to be used

Of course, this collaboration can only be done after the appropriate risk assessment – but that is no different than when choosing a cobot , What are many of the robots are capable of collaborating with the appropriate safety mechanisms in place.

Cobot Misconceptions

Remember, it's the ability for human and machine to collaborate. While these are not all black and white,

In February 2016, the technical standard ISO / TS 15066 was published in Collaborative Applications

Similarly, some manufacturers may buy their cobots assuming they will work without caging. However, they may find their risk assessment shows. The additional charge of these safety features would render the total cost of the cobot similar to that of an industrial robot, but without the additional capabilities of speed and accuracy. Suddenly, this initially low-cost, low-risk investment in cobots is not turning out as planned.

The huge growth in the cobot market represents the view that cobots can be ideal first step towards automated processes. If the application does not require safety guarding, then the initial investment is low. However, as applications evolve, multiple cobots may be required for scalability, and the additional human resources will soon exceed the cost of an industrial robot.

It's imperative that business owners assess the application and the needs (19659022)! function (f, b, e, v, n, t, s)

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