4 manufacturing processes that benefit from a cobot workforce
Experts expect the collaborative robot, or cobot, market to expand to a $2bn industry by 2021. But they are already being used to much success in industries including automotive, food packaging, and manufacturing, their benefits meaning that they will become increasingly prevalent. Below are some ways in which cobots are already being used:
Pick and placement
Pick and place tasks are among some of the most repetitive tasks performed on assembly lines. This repetitiveness can lead to human error, and mistakes cost money. Cobots can identify products, safely collect products and move them to a desired location. Errors and mistakes are eliminated, and human operators are free to perform more complex tasks.
Machine tending is another tedious but essential task. Operators may need to monitor equipment, ensure safety levels are met, and might only need to input data occasionally. This sporadic work is another area where human mistakes are often made. Cobots not only eliminate errors, but they can also operate multiple machines at once, and use input and output interfacing hardware that is specific to the task at hand.
Process tasks exist in most manufacturing procedures. Examples include welding or glueing, where accuracy and reliability are as important as speed and quality. It can take considerable time to train operators to perform the task to the desired level, but a cobot can be “trained” to perform the task and then repeat it, with exactly the same quality of results, every time. A cobot can also work in potentially hazardous conditions, which can eliminate the risk of injury to employees.
Quality control is typically completed at the end of a manufacturing process, although it may be completed at various stages to ensure ongoing quality. It requires the careful checking of products to identify any flaws or errors, weak points, and areas of poor quality. Equipping a cobot with multiple high-resolution cameras enables the bot to compare finished products with their CAD design template. Not only does this reduce potential man-hours, but machines can methodically spot errors that humans would otherwise miss.