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Will Working Alongside Cobots Become the New Normal?

Since they are lightweight, small and designed to be inherently safe to operate in close proximity to humans, cobots are an ideal entry point for a plethora of companies seeking to embrace robotics and collaborative technology.

While conventional robots are impressive machines in terms of handling substantial loads of work with great precision at lightning speed, they are hard to programme, expensive and expensive. Also they may be liable to chop off your head or hand if you stand too close thus why they are placed behind safety fences and cages. In addition to this, they are huge some even taking up enough space to build a house on.

The advantages of using cobots instead

Compact and lightweight cobots are different in that they can perform duties alongside humans in the same working environment. This is all thanks to force-limiting as well as soft skin sensors which keep the energy of collision at a level that makes it safe for cobots and humans to share the same working space.

Deployment costs are far less since cobots is easy to programme and there is no need for protective guards. Efficient working is the main reason behind the creation of cobots. It is evident that man and machine complement each other. While the human worker uses his or her big brain to handle intricate tasks, his machine coworker prepares the product or rapidly processes it for human attention.

If more people view cobots as fellow coworkers then they will realize that they are not threats, instead they may actually create employment in the near future. Since their advantages outweigh those of traditional robots, cobots are rapidly flooding the factory floors of many companies

The history of cobots

Collaborative robots didn’t just fall from the sky so just like many other clever ideas they are far from new. In fact, cobots first appeared over 50 years ago all thanks to research that was funded by General Motors, the pioneer of robotics. The first intelligent ‘Assist Device’ designed by General Motors featured a movement-limited hoist which helped car plant operators in Detroit to easily move heavy loads.

The present-day cobot is much smaller and it comprises of one or two magnesium or aluminum arms which feature force-limiting sensors. Barclays Equity research predicts that the price of cobots will annually decline by 3 to 5% through 2025 the more production volumes continue grow.

Teaching and training cobots

The training of cobots is considered to be so simple that even a child could manage it. So far, the software for cobots is the most innovative attribute since it lets users to set up processes in hours instead of days or weeks.

Additionally, there are collaborative robots that feature the ‘lead-through programming’. This means that if an operator wants to record the path that the cobot will follow, he or she has to literally take it by arm and show it where to go and what to do. However, even this kind of simplicity can have its drawbacks.

At the moment, one of the biggest challenges the robotics industry is facing is being able to customize end effectors together with their control code to suit individual processes. Even though the arm tooling of cobots may still be a bit expensive, through the use of innovative software, operators can find it easier to plug in standard tools.

Are cobots becoming the new normal?

At present, collaborative robots are doing almost everything from doing basic quality-control inspections and gluing on car door liners to welding, painting and stacking boxes. For this reason, more companies are starting to see the benefits of investing in cobots thus making them a new normal especially of factory floors.

Collaborative robots have an obvious role to play in helping to free up human capital for more productive roles as well as fill in some skill gaps. They also help manufacturers in countries such as the UK and the US to compete against rivals from low-cost markets.

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Written by simonhopes

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