Factors to consider when adopting cobots for industry
Collaborative robots are increasingly being adopted by a diverse range of manufacturing companies. From auto makers, furniture makers and even medical and pharmaceuticals manufacturers, cobots are permeating into the manufacturing industry the world over.
As a result of their increased uptake, robot assembly is becoming common in the manufacturing industry and changing the quality, design and availability of numerous products.
Even with their growing popularity and acceptance, some concerns have been raised about the usability and functionality of robots.
Listed are some of the issues that different users have with collaborative robots.
With the name collaborative robot implying working together with robots, lots of factory workers are concerned about their safety when working alongside cobots on the factory floor. With the numerous reports of the fatal accidents cause, this is a valid concern and cobot manufacturers have looked into all aspects of this and addressed it in their design.
Collaborative robots are designed to work in the factory together with human employees without the need of fencing or caging. They were designed and produced to get rid of the need to have locations that were out of bounds for humans as robots were at work.
Cobots are designed to be sleek and smooth. They have rounded edges to ensure that incase a human being bumps into them while on the factory floor, there will be little or no injury.
Secondly, cobots are designed to sense the presence of human workers especially when they are working independently. When they sense human presence, they are expected to slow down or stop, to avoid the risk of an accident. Besides slowing down, they can also change the direction in which they are working.
Taking away jobs
Traditionally, automation was a sure sign that a company would cut its human workers numbers. With cobot adoption, this does not have to be the case.
As their name suggests, collaborative robots work alongside human factory workers. Factories that have already adopted the use of cobots, have assigned the cobots monotonous and boring tasks. This in turn allows the factory workers who used to carry out these tasks before to now handle more challenging tasks either manually or mentally that help push the factory forward.
Enhancing factory working conditions for employees
In addition, cobots can also handle dangerous and harmful tasks and jobs to the human worker. Tasks that involve handling chemicals and other hazardous materials can be assigned to cobots as human employees are assigned other tasks that do not involve handling substances or tasks that can be harmful to their health.
For example, tasks such as heavy lifting can be assigned to industrial robots and they will carry it out with ease rather than endangering the health of their employees.
Modern robots are designed to withstand the vagaries of the factory. As a result, they will consistently work in condition that are deemed to be unsuitable for working. In factories that have lots of dust and debris that can prevent smooth movement of the joints, the robots can be easily covered up and continue to work. In addition, if they get into contact with any type of liquids, they can be simply wiped up without any negative effect to their functioning.
Finding competent robot operators
This is another pressing concern as more and more manufacturing companies acquire cobots and modern industrial robots.
To solve this problem, and reduce the burden of having to hire an expensive robot operator, cobot manufacturers train each of their clients on how to operate and program their equipment effectively.
The manufacturers teach a few factory workers how to teach the robot how to work. It can be taught manually or via computer programming.
In addition, the cobots are designed to be easy to use by having a friendly and easy to understand interface. In addition, manufacturers have developed different types of software that can be used to enable the robots complete different types of tasks.