How Do We Integrate Cobots in Manufacturing?
There are two primary types of robots used in manufacturing: Industrial robots and collaborative robots.
Industrial robots are large and stationary. They’re powerhouses when it comes to repeatedly performing one task that they’ve been programmed for, and can boost productivity immensely. They also require a very large work envelope, and operate within caged off areas to prevent any injuries to workers during operation.
Collaborative robots, on the other hand, are mobile and built to work alongside people. They can usually be quickly repurposed on the fly to suit the situation and are a great investment even for small to midsize manufacturers.
Cobots on the Floor
You’ve probably seen a cobot before if you’ve seen any pictures or videos of modern manufacturing. Sometimes they look like robotic arms with claws or tools on the end. Sometimes they look like little box shaped robots that move around the floor carrying loads.
Whatever form they take, they’re usually operating next to and amongst people. That’s because they’re built and risk-assessed to be safe to work around, and they’re often part of a process chain that involves both people and robots handing off tasks to one another.
What Do Cobots Actually Do?
Because of their adaptable nature and ease of programming, cobots are used for a wide variety of tasks.
They’re often used for repetitive manual tasks, like pick and place tasks. Picking and placing is simply when a workpiece or a component of the manufacturing process is picked up and placed somewhere else. For people, these repetitive tasks can be monotonous, and the monotony can lead to mistakes. The repetitive motions can also cause injuries in the workers. Cobots are able to pick and place flawlessly without ever getting tired or facing any risk of injury.
They can also be used for process tasks after being equipped with the proper tools. For instance, an arm-like cobot can be equipped with a welding torch and perform welding tasks on a repeated basis with the sort of precision that can only be accomplished by a machine.
Other tasks performed by our tireless mechanical companions include machine tending, packaging and palletizing, finishing tasks, and even quality inspection. The possible applications of cobots in manufacturing are vast, and new collaborative robot technologies are constantly being developed to even further their capabilities on the floor.
The Other Half of the Cobot Equation
Of course cobots cannot do everything on their own. They need people to program, operate, and maintain them. This is where the problem lies, as there aren’t enough workers being trained to work with robotics to fill all the jobs that are being created by the use of cobots in manufacturing.
At the ARM Institute, we’ve dedicated ourselves to connecting potential workers with robotics and automation training programs and educational organizations from around the country.
Students, or even people who are already working in manufacturing and just need to acquire some new skills, are able to search through our vast database of U.S. based educational programs to find what works best for them. Then they’re connected to the educational resources that will provide the necessary training for a fulfilling career in robotics.
Find a robotics program near you with our search tool, and soon you’ll be working with cobots of your own.