타이베이 국제산업자동화 전시회, Techman 로봇

국제 데이터 공사(IDC)가 글로벌 디지털 트랜스포메이션 (GDX)의 새로운 시대를 예고하였다. 선도적인 협동 로봇, 스마트 비전 브랜드 제조업체인 Techman 로봇에서는 타이베이 국제 산업 자동화 전시회에 스마트 제조 업그레이드를 위한 일련의 솔루션을 가져왔다. TM로봇을 비전 시스템과 AI 기술로 완벽하게 통합하는 소프트 웨어 솔루션 TM AI+, 소프트웨어와 하드웨어를 모두 통합한 지능형 팔레타이즈 시스템 TM Palletizing Operator, 생산 데이터를 손쉽게 관리해 디지털 전환을 견인하는 스마트 팩토리 소프트웨어 TM매니저등을 제공한다.

TM AI+

TM AI+는 로봇 시스템에 전통 기계와 첨단 AI 비전을 업계 최초로 통합한 제품이다. 추가적인 컨트롤러가 필요하지 않은 상황에서, 과거의 통합에 필요한 인력, 시간, 비용 또한 상당히 줄어들었다. TM로봇의 내장된 비전 시스템은 가벼운 산업용 카메라와 센싱 요소와 통합되어 이미지를 캡처한다. AI의 딥러닝 기술도 결합해 검사 효율성과 정확성을 한층 더 높이고 산업별로 자동화된 생산의 어려움을 해결하기 위한 수단으로 물체의 형태와 종류, 색상을 정확히 파악하고 있다. 검사 데이터는 향후 제조 시 지침으로도 사용될 수 있으며 이는 디지털 전환에 한 걸음 더 다가가는 것이다.

TMmanager

Techman로봇은 가상 통합, IoT, 지능형 장비, 로봇 애플리케이션 등을 통해 스마트공장 자동화 생산 달성을 위해 분야별 지원을 아끼지 않아 적용성과 기능성이 높은 스마트팩토리를 구축하기 위해 노력해왔다. 스마트팩토리 관리 소프트웨어인 TM매니저의 기능은 다음과 같다.

  1. 데이터 수집 및 모니터링 시스템을 통해 고객에게 실시간 공장 장비 관리 및 상태 모니터링
  2. 제조현장에 대한 통제는 모든 제조데이터의 완전한 추적가능성과 자동 수집을 제공한다
  3. 사용자 친화적인 인터페이스로 데이터 처리가 용이하고 필요에 따라 맞춤 제작 가능
  4. 실시간 생산현황으로 운영자가 직접 생산정보를 파악할 수 있음

TM Palletizing Operator

TM Palletizing Operator는 지능형 Palletizing 전용 운영체제 유닛이다. 가이드 소프트웨어가 내장돼 있어 팰릿 사양을 손쉽게 설정하고, 팰릿화 시뮬레이션과 충돌 테스트를 사전에 수행하며, 기존 팰릿 3개월에서 6개월 정도 걸리던 설정 기간을 5분으로 단축할 수 있다. TM Palletizing의 지능형 Palletizing 완료 솔루션은 CE인증과와 3849-1의 인증을 받은 것 이외에도 대만에서 국제 제3자 ISO10218-2 안전 인증을 획득한 최초의 지능형 Palletizing 시스템 모듈이다. 그것은 다른 산업들 중 창고업, 물류업, 식품업, 제조업에 적용될 수 있다.

TM 3D 컴팩트

TM 3Dvision은 외부 3D 카메라를 탑재한 최신 비전 기능이다. TMflow의 비전 노드 기능을 기반으로 확장된 새로운 기능으로, 새로운 소프트웨어를 설치하거나 배울 필요가 없으며, 모든 기능과 설정은 TMflow에서 수행할 수 있으며 비전 컨트롤러가 필요하지 않다. 객체 모델을 만드는 방법에는 다음 세 가지가 있다.

  1. CAD 모델 가져오기
  2. 기본 기하학적 형상 선택(Sphere, Cylinder, Square 등)
  3. 3D 카메라를 사용하여 모델 제작

여러 모양의 물체를 손쉽게 처리하고 TMflow로 유연하게 프로그래밍할 수 있으며, 내장된 비전 시스템과도 협업해 비전 작업을 완성할 수 있다. TM 3Dvision은 애플리케이션을 프로그래밍하는 씬(scene) 모델을 가져와 충돌 감지 기능을 제공한다.

FTV와의 AR 협업

FTV와의 혁신적인 협업 데모에는 TM로봇과 AR 카메라 정렬 기술이 접목하였다. TM로봇은 AR 장면에서 엔드 카메라의 변위 좌표를 가상 카메라로 즉시 피드백할 수 있으며, 동시에 AR 3D를 합성해 TV 방송 표준의 정밀도로 가상 현실의 효과를 얻을 수 있다. 카메라가 장착되면 이번 전시회에 선보인 가상 스튜디오 카메라의 추적·정렬 추적 시스템 외에도 고속이나 시간 경과 등 특수효과 촬영도 가능하다.

TM 아카데미

Techman로봇은 산학협력기회를 전담하고 있어 TM아카데미(TM Academic)를 설립했다. TM아카데미는 중등교육부터 고등교육까지 자동화 수업을 위한 모든 교육 서비스와 종합로봇과정, 교실디자인 등을 망라하는 전문교육그룹이다. 현재 TM아카데미 과정을 성공적으로 수료한 분들에게 협동 로봇 자격증 및 인턴십 기회를 제공해 산업과 교육의 통합을 더욱 강화해 그들이 좋은 활용과 미래 경쟁력을 높일 수 있도록 할 계획이다.

기존 전통산업에서부터 웨어하우징, 전자제품 제조, 심지어 영화와 교육까지 이르는 일련의 새로운 솔루션으로 변하는 글로벌 디지털 전환을 막을 수 없는 추세라는 점을 감안했을 때  Techman로봇은 모든 산업에서 혁신적인 로봇기술과 스마트 제조를 지속하고 있다.

협동 로봇과 비즈니스 개선을 위한 자동화 솔루션에 대해 자세히 알아보려면 Techman 로봇에게 지금 바로 문의하십시오.

What Does “Collaborative Robot” Mean?

collaborative-robot

What Does Collaborative Robot Mean? Everything You Need to Know About Cobots

Back in the late 18th century, the First Industrial Revolution was a game-changer for manufacturers and factories. Since then, manufacturing processes and factories have taken advantage of both machines and manpower to maximize productivity. Over time, manufacturers have adapted to the latest technology made to make production faster or more effective and safer to the manpower on the work floor.

And at this day and age of smart technology, AI, and more, manufacturing companies are now welcoming the next big thing for efficient production. Enter: collaborative robots, or cobots. Here’s what you need to know about collaborative robots and what they can do for your production.

What Does Collaborative Robot Mean?

Simply put, collaborative robots are robots that can safely work alongside and with a human. While there are some machines already in manufacturing that require humans for it to operate, cobots interact with a human and work alongside the same step of their production.

Another difference is that collaborative robots are built for safety, so the chances of workplace hazards while interacting with cobots is relatively low. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists 23.5 percent of non-fatal injuries coming from contact with equipment. Collaborative robots are built to reduce the risk of that in the workplace based on how it’s built and operated.

Collaborative robots are made with lightweight materials and constructed to have rounded edges. These can avoid and accidental injuries while handling these robots in the workplace. To make it safer, cobots have a speed and force limit when moving and have sensors to determine key safety features.

Because of their safety features, people in manufacturing can operate directly with cobots rather than the former safety measure of locking robots in cages or rooms to operate to ensure no one gets hurt by their weight or fast movements.

Around five percent of global industrial robot sales are cobots. In 2018, around 14,000 cobots were installed in various industrial centers; in 2017, this was only 11,000. This may not seem like a lot on a global scale, but the industry was valued at $580 million and expected to reach near the tens of billions by 2024. But for now, that means collaborative robots account for roughly five percent of industrial robots all around the world. Given the increase, the demand is expected to rise in 2019 and 2020.

Collaborative Robot Origins

Collaborative robots were invented in 1996 due to an initiative that began two years earlier. In 1994, Prasad Akella of the General Motors Robotics Center, later with a General Motors Foundation research grant in 1995, wanted to find a way to make robots and people work safely together. The first collaborative robot was invented in 1996 by Northwestern University professors J. Edward Colgate and Michael Peshkin and patented a year later.

The first collaborative robot had no internal power source that could move on its own. To make it safe, it was the human that had control over its power. Back then, it wasn’t called collaborative robots or cobots, but “Intelligent Assist Device.”

Colgate and Peshkin would go on to create their own company, Cobotics, to produce the first cobots used in the manufacturing industry. They were used in an automobile company’s final assembly line. The company was bought by Stanley Assembly Technologies in 2003. Since then, other companies have gone on to develop different types of collaborative robots to meet the demands of various industries.

Collaborative Robot Applications

The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) classifies robots into two types: robots used in manufacturing, and those used for domestic and professional purposes. Most collaborative robots fall under the first types.

Like other machines used in manufacturing and industrial uses, collaborative robots have different applications depending on factors like their adaptability, size, mobility, and safety features. This helps streamline the process of producing manufactured foods by using machines to make certain processes faster, also known as the concept of automation.

Humans can do most of the tasks in a production line, but many robots today were invented to do certain tasks faster and more efficiently. However, while studies suggest that around 8.5% of manufacturing positions will be automated by 2030, there are just some tasks that require both human and robots. Given that a lot of robots’ processes aren’t safe to work with humans (e.g. sharp metal edges, fast movement, machine temperature), there’s a growing need for cobots.

Collaborative robots are mostly used in logistics (moving and carrying heavy loads), manufacturing (assembly, welding, painting), and industrial purposes, but they’re also used for other applications. Cobots can be used by consumers or for public use such as serving as information robots or serving as moving security patrol in guarded facilities. This takes care of the more minor steps to production and operation and making it faster for human labor to handle the more complex processes robots can’t do (for now, at least). Some of their tasks include:

  • Full logistics process – picking, sorting, and packing goods, avoiding injuries associated with heavier loads or dealing with dangerous products that have safety risks.
  • Quality control – collaborative robots can work for a prolonged period of time with consistent performance while minimizing human error. This ensures a standard level of quality on the manufacturer’s part.
  • Machine tending –cobots can replace human workers in repetitive and potentially dangerous work of loading and unloading parts from a milling, brake press, CNC, plastic molding, or other machines. Also improving production capabilities such as product output, quality, and consistency.

Like ordinary industrial robots, collaborative robots can work both on its own, before, or after a human finishes their task, or alongside a human.

Quality control of a SSD production line using cobot to help run performance tests

Collaborative Robots for Manufacturers

Robots have become a ubiquitous feature in manufacturing, especially in established corporations and large companies looking to streamline their operations, make their processes more efficient, and reduce costs on manual labor. However, this puts small to medium enterprises at a disadvantage because they couldn’t afford the costs of building and coding their own robots.

This is why collaborative robots have become a major game-changer in the manufacturing industry. A business with the resources can opt to create their own cobots from scratch, but for the most part, collaborative robots are becoming an actual product in the B2B market. Robotic companies that produce cobots provide the materials and coding, making it more accessible to smaller businesses.

This makes it easier for smaller businesses to begin automating some of their processes. Without automated processes, some of the more menial and back-breaking jobs are left to human labor, which can not only be demotivating but also put a business’ people at risk for both injuries and long-term effects on the body.

Benefits of Automation with Cobots

  • Advanced automation with reduced costs
    • Cobots give manufacturers for medium-sized businesses access to advanced automation without the high costs of programming and constructing robotics that may still post a safety risk to human labor within the manufacturing process. Collaborative robotsare also easierto program than traditional robots, lowering coding efforts from your employees.
  • Flexibility
    • Collaborative robots are generally smaller and more portable than traditional robots, so they can have multiple purposes throughout the production line without any hassle transporting it. Aside from their hardware, their programming can also be considered flexible, so cobots can be repurposed for different uses.
  • Safety
    • Collaborative robots are designed with humans’ safety in mind, so they can be work right next to humans without the risk of injury. They can move slower when necessary and apply less force, which makes them less of a risk in a manufacturing center.

Robot Vision System

Some cobots are built with sensors and cameras, with at least one mounted on its robotic arm serving as its “eye”. This set-up allows a cobot to have a sort of “vision system” and get as much visual data as needed to perform certain tasks with humans.

A cobot’s camera takes 2D or 3D scans of the object, which is then stored in its database. When a cobot detects that it’s holding the same object, it can be triggered to perform the appropriate task. Once complete, it can be installed on an assembly line.

A robot vision system has three parts. While this may seem like a long process, the entire thing takes place within less than one second.

Image Capture

The collaborative robot captures footage of an object within its line of sight, depending on how the assembly line is structured. After it starts to capture visual data from a certain calculated distance, the cobot will analyze the images, and enhance it for a clearer picture to work with.

Image Processing

After the images have been captured and saved into the collaborative robot’s database, it will be processed and analyzed down to the last pixel. Its artificial intelligence is responsible for comparing colors, shapes, and anything to connect it to the images programmed in the database.

Connectivity and Response

Once the machine recognizes and matches the object based on the pictures saved onto its database, it will perform the corresponding action pre-programmed.

TM Robot performs an automated optical inspection of electronic components on the conveyor with its built-in vision system

Robot Vision AI Benefits

One of the advantages of having a collaborative robot is its camera allows it to have a “vision.” And, with its artificial intelligence, it is possible for a collaborative robot to do a number of things using its vision.

Increased Efficiency

Just because a collaborative robot operates based on the images it’s saved does not mean its process is too restrictive to create different designs. Programming a cobot’s AI vision means that the scope can be tweaked to allow for different designs and variations of a product as long as some of its features are similar. This is ideal for products that have different colors or styles but the same shape and size.

Ensure Product Consistency

Ensuring consistency for all items in the production line can be exhausting for human workers, since this means one person checking multiple items for consistency throughout the entire production process. This is extremely repetitive, and even then the task may be prone to human error. Cobots, however, can do the same task over and over without the strain or faltering quality over time.

Increased Reliability

Compared to other robots that do not have AI or robot vision, collaborative robots are generally more reliable because they’re not going at their tasks blindly. They’re basing the process of their operations based on saved visual data and how the object they’re working with looks. If something doesn’t look up to par, they can skip that object, saving time, quality, and resources (why waste raw materials on something that doesn’t measure up quality-wise?) while also issuing quality control on products.

Safe Working Environment

Robots move at directions and speeds they were programmed to move. Ordinary robots do not have safety measures, so it cannot detect if something is in its way unless that object is strong enough to stop it. This means that if a human accidentally got in the way of its operations, that robot won’t stop, which could be dangerous for the human involved, hence the reason why regular robots are kept away from human workers.

In comparison, collaborative robots are built with safety in mind. Their sensors and cameras can detect obstructions blocking their way, which make them stop or slow down. This makes them much slower in a productive sense, but much safer if you’re looking to decrease the risk of on-site accidents in the production line.

Reduced Operating Costs

A collaborative robot is a major investment for your business. This is in terms of time saved, higher productivity, consistent product quality, and higher employee morale. These can all contribute to lower operating costs.

Collaborative robots are paving the way for streamlined, efficient, and consistent products off the production line. In a time where technology is available to improve your operations, why settle for the chance of human error or the risk of your employees getting injured or burned out from menial everyday tasks that technology can handle safely and efficiently?

Contact Techman Robot today to find out more about our collaborative robots and automation solutions to improve your business.

Connect and Create: The Advantages of Smart Factory Automation

collaborative-robot-techman-robot

With the rapid advancement of technology, especially for manufacturing, experts are suggesting that the world is undergoing the fourth industrial revolution or industry 4.0. The first one happened in the late 1700s when companies started to use intuitive machines to enhance their productivity and reduce manual labor. Examples of these instruments were cotton spinners for textiles and steam engines for agriculture and transportation.

The second one involved the expansion of electricity and petroleum industries, and the third was all about digital solutions like computers and robots. These shifts happened decades apart, so what is industry 4.0 and why is it happening just several years after the latest revolution?

A Smart Factory

Industry 4.0 tech focuses on making manufacturing equipment like computers and robots more intelligent and interconnected than ever through artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and a lot of data. Here’s what they mean and how they turn your plant into a smart factory.

  • Artificial Intelligence – Also known as AI, artificial intelligence is the use of machines like computers to simulate human processes like reasoning, learning, moving objects, and problem-solving. You may be familiar with an AI already if you use your smartphone’s voice assistant or smart speakers like the Amazon Echo. In manufacturing, AI is often used to control collaborative robots or “cobots,” which are designed to help human workers take on repetitive tasks such as inspecting, picking, and placing items.
  • The Internet of Things – The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network where various devices, like smartphones, machines, computers, and even light bulbs, can send data and commands to each other. Think of a smart home where you can control your appliances and view their energy usage using only your phone or tablet. For your production floor, you can purchase equipment with special sensors that track the machine’s performance and overall health in real time.
  • Cloud Computing and Storage –With the amount of data you’ll be collecting from your operation every day, a couple of hard drives won’t be enough. Creating a server room that’s managed by IT experts costs too much for some owners. Cloud service providers help you store your files and data on their secure servers.

Not only will it eliminate the need for storage hardware, but it also lets you access your documents from anywhere using a computer or a smartphone.You may harvest insights from this data and turn them into reports using a cloud-based business intelligence solution.

Intelligent Benefits

AI, IoT, and cloud services all provide features that make it easier for you and your workers to create quality products. In fact, about 29% of businesses in the United States use AI regularly in their business processes. And about 77% of corporations in the country are using at least one cloud computing application. So, what are the benefits of having a smart factory?

  • Better Maintenance–Because your machines will be equipped with tools that measure their performance, you’ll be able to see which units may have technical difficulties. It allows you to send them in immediately for repairs, or replace them temporarily before they cause bottlenecks in your operations.
  • Better Quality of Goods –Smart factory technology, like AI-powered collaborative robots,help take human error out of repetitive tasks. With their precise arms and solid programming, these bots can take on tasks like packing, soldering, and inspecting every day without making mistakes. They don’t get distracted, and they don’t need to take breaks to function well. In turn, you’ll create products with better and more consistent quality.
  • Better for the Budget – Although you may have to shell out cash to set up your smart factory, you’ll save more in the long run. Return, refund, and servicing requests all negatively impact your bottom-line. Since you’ll be delivering products at a much more consistent quality, you’ll likely receive fewer complaints from customers. With smart factory automation software, you can also create a real-time inventory tracker, which helps you forecast the number of materials you’ll need for the next cycle. It eliminates the need to overstock materials. You only buy what you need.
  • Better for Workers–Smart factory devices like collaborative robots take care of the more tedious and sometimes risky work for your employees. It may minimize the number of injuries related to repetitive work on the production floor, like back pain, sprains, tendonitis, and arthritis. And because they’ll be using automated forms and sheets, tasks like keeping inventory and quality monitoring is a breeze. The extra time your workers will have because of automation can be used for upskilling, as well. This way, they’ll be doing tasks that require creativity – a trait that no robot can ever replicate.
  • Better for the Environment –Your smart technology may decrease the waste your factory creates, too. Because you’ll make fewer mistakes with an automated assembly line, you’ll also throw out fewer rejects. And with a digital system, you can minimize – or eliminate – your company’s dependency on paper.

The Bottom Line

Smart technology enables you to create informed and intelligent decisions for your manufacturing business. With a digitalized data dashboard of all your factory equipments, you can take care of mechanical problems before they even arise. A cloud-based business intelligence platform can help you gather gigabytes of data from a month or year’s work and analyze them to find out which parts of your chain maybe causing slowdowns. You can then turn that data into a report to present in strategy meetings.

When you upgrade your facilities, you also improve your workers. Automation frees them up from menial tasks and gives them the chance to take on more challenging and rewarding work.

Industry 4.0 in manufacturing is not just about automation. It’s about taking the abundance of technology and analyze the data available to us to improve our products drastically,and to enrich the well being of our workers on the assembly line. And with technologies like cobots, cloud services, and smart devices like tablets becoming cheaper to buy and easier to use, the question is not if, but when you’ll join the fourth industrial revolution.

What are Collaborative Robot Applications?

collaborative-robot-techman-robot

What are Collaborative Robot Applications: Robots Are Intelligent, Collaborative Machines

When you think of a robot in a manufacturing plant, you may visualize collaborative robot applications, such as a sizeable mechanical arm assembling car parts or a device that fills hundreds of food packages every few minutes. These are called industrial robots, which are fully automated to do specialized tasks like pumping, packing, labeling, and more.

But they’re often isolated, working on their own or with their fellow robots. This is because they operate at a fast rate, which may harm humans that come near them. Sometimes they’re seen as a threat to human jobs, taking over manual work that people used to do.

However, a new breed of machines, known as collaborative robots, is starting to rise in the market, which is specially made to work closely with humans. What does “collaborative robot” mean?

What are Cobots?

Collaborative robots, or “cobots” are robots that are intended to work hand-in-hand with human beings.  These machines focus on repetitive tasks, such as inspection and picking, to help workers focus more on tasks that require problem-solving skills.

Since they operate next to people, they work at a more manageable speed and cobots are also designed to stop immediately when a person makes any contact with them. This allows them to operate safely around human operators according to the 4th criteria of safe collaboration.

Cobots work alongside humans, improving processes through the three E’s: Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Enhancement. They augment the quality of human work, performing intelligent automated tasks that are data, strength, endurance, or precision-related in nature.

If anyone still asks what cobots are used for, they form part of the future of industrial automation: automation with a human touch. In the future, manufacturing will focus on cobot-assisted flexible processes and customization, both of which are extremely valuable in industrial assembly.

Apart from safety, here are other advantages of having a cobot on your production floor.

  • A Breeze to Set Up – Unlike their industrial-grade big brothers, cobots are often compact and simple to operate. Setting them up requires little to no programming experience. As such, training your employees to use and program them will be a breeze. Some companies even deploy fully-functional cobots in just weeks. This is compared to industrial bots that need experts to customize and take months to set-up for everyday use.
  • Versatile – Cobots are designed to take on different kinds of tasks. As long as you have the suitable end effectors, you can program packing bots to take on labeling or inspecting jobs in just a few minutes. Some cobots are even made to be mobile, so you can easily transfer them to help out another station. They operate much more straightforward than their industrial counterparts, which need extensive changes done to their software and hardware to be repurposed.
  • Empowers Employees – Repetitive motions are the leading causes of injury like hernias, carpal tunnel syndrome, and back pain. Back injuries and discomfort were cited in almost 39% of work-related musculo skeletal disorders in the American workplaces in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Cobots can easily take over repetitive manual work for employees. Not only will workers be freed to do more creative tasks, but they’ll also file fewer sick days from workplace injuries.

A Wide Range of Applications

The collaborative robot market is expected to reach a value of over $11.8 billion in 2030, according to analytics firm ABI Research. This is an enormous jump from $711 million in 2019. This optimistic projection comes from the rise in the number of collaborative robot applications across different industries. Not only are big companies utilizing the power of these machines; small and medium businesses too are also buying units for their own manufacturing. Here are some of the industries that make the most out of cobots.

A Hit in Manufacturing

The versatility of cobots has made them a hit in the manufacturing industry. They serve a variety of functions on the production floor. These include:

  • All in the Right Place – Cobots can be equipped with cameras or sensors that inspect parts of a product for any defects. They can also be used to measure specific components to ensure that they’re being sorted into the right stream in the assembly line.
  • Precise Tool Handling – Cobots are so accurate that companies are using them to handle process tasks like soldering, screwing, and welding. They can perform these tasks day in and day out (and even after hours) without any slow-downs. They make little to no mistakes, too, so you can rest easy knowing your products have consistently good quality.
  • A Perfect Finish – Machines can also be outfitted with force sensors that measure the pressure that the bot exerts on items. Equipped with attachments for sanding, grinding, painting, and more, cobots can provide a consistent finish to any product.

What’s great about these tasks is that they can be transferred easily to other cobots as well. There’s no need to recreate or adjust lines of code. Talk about consistent quality!

Loved in Logistics

Cobots are also well-received in logistics, as they help get deliveries out much faster. A significant example of their use in this field would be in the warehouses of e-commerce giant, Amazon. They’re using cobots that not only transfer items from one place to another but also sense the item’s fragility to adjust their grip accordingly. Here are other ways collaborative bots are used in logistics.

  • Doing the Heavy Lifting – Mobile cobots can be designated to carry loads through a pre-programmed route. These minimize the need for workers to take heavy boxes by hand or use heavy equipment like forklifts.
  • Sealed and Delivered – Like with part inspection, adding cameras to a bot can turn it into an accurate and efficient picking machine. And with a gripper or suction cups, they can form cartons, load items in, and seal boxes. This makes fulfillment much more efficient and accurate.

Cobots are a testament that automation and AI aren’t made to replace humans in the assembly line. Instead, they improve the lives of employees on the production floor. By taking on repetitive tasks, they provide workers with opportunities to take on work that need more creativity than brawn. And because cobots often take on repetitive and sometimes dangerous work, they also keep workplace injuries to a minimum.

The flexibility and safety that cobots provide are why they’re becoming more and more popular with businesses across different industries. And because bots are easy to set up and program, they’re also starting to become a staple in small manufacturing plants. With cobot market values continuing to go up, the future is definitely a collaboration between man and machine.

The Advantages of Cobots in the Manufacturing Industry

Zimmer-HRC-03-TM-Kit

Robots in manufacturing were often used by already established companies to speed up their operations and save costs. But their complex programming was too steep for small to medium businesses. Collaborative robots, also known as “cobots,” are making automation more accessible for up and coming companies, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). But what does cobot mean, anyway?

Cobots are artificial intelligence-powered machines created especially to work with humans. Here are some examples of how collaborative bots are applied in manufacturing.

  • Pick, Place, and Pack – Picking and packing goods is a task that is prone to human error, and sometimes, injury. A cobot can fulfill these tasks without making mistakes, giving companies faster lead times for deliveries, and fewer return requests from customers because of packing errors.

 

  • Quality Control – Cobots can also be equipped with special cameras and software that lets them detect and report on flaws of a product. It gives owners more confidence about the level of their goods’ quality.

 

  • Heavy Lifting – Some collaborative robots are capable of lifting, transferring, and organizing goods on their own. They minimize the need for procuring and operating heavy equipment like forklifts.

The cobot industry is growing at a rapid pace. It was valued at $580 million in 2018 and is expected by BIS Research to grow to a whopping $9.13 billion by 2024. And it’s no surprise, as these collaborative robots have various benefits, from productivity to safety on the floor.

They Eliminate Repetitive Tasks

Without automation, workers would be stuck doing repetitive tasks by hand every day. This kind of labor can have adverse effects on the health and wellbeing of workers. Cobots help eliminate those strenuous tasks. This is evidenced by the Chicago Tribune’s report on the collaborative robots used in the Kay Manufacturing plant in Illinois. It followed the story of a factory worker who has been with the company for over 25 years.

His work consisted of inspecting every surface of lamp parts to ensure that there were no defects. This task, among other manually intensive ones, caused him to develop arthritis in his hands and fit. With a cobot doing most of the examination, he’s more than happy to focus on more critical tasks like operating his assigned machine and managing his side of the supply chain.

Because these bots don’t ever feel tired or out of focus, they’re significantly less prone to making mistakes than humans. It just goes to show that cobots don’t only improve a company’s overall productivity, but they also enhance employees’ quality of life.

Cobots are Easy to Use

One of the barriers to automation for small enterprises was complicated programming. You often have to hire an in-house developer or ask the manufacturer to customize your machine’s software according to your needs. Hiring and onboarding a team of programmers take a lot of time and money that small business can’t afford. As such, some companies resort to outsourcing their manufacturing. But for those who want to build their parts in-house and want to monitor their quality closely, cobots may be an easy-to-use solution.

These machines don’t need programming experience to use and tune according to your company or workers’ preferences. They can easily be taught through cobot-designed software on a computer. Collaborative robots are also lighter and more compact than their fully-automated counterparts, making them a breeze to set up.

Kay Manufacturing’s first cobot was fully-functional within a month. The workers completed the device’s programming tutorial in less than 90 minutes.

They’re Also Flexible

Because cobots are smaller than their industrial big brothers, they’re also more mobile. Some machines can be wheeled from one station to the other with minimal hassle. Apart from having mobile and flexible hardware, collaborative robots also have flexible software.

You can change the way a machine functions and behaves with just a few steps on the program software. Plus, their arm attachments can be switched easily. This modularity lets you repurpose your cobot from one task to another, unlike industrial robots that may need extensive hardware changes to be repurposed. Developers may also need to write new lines of code to accommodate this change.

For example, you can replace a picking and packing bot’s arm with a dropper or tube and nozzle and reprogram them as filler. And when you get your machine from a trusted collaborative cobot manufacturer, you can expect regular updates that improve your bot’s performance and even add new functionalities.

A Matter of Safety

Unlike industrial robots, collaborative robots are designed to work side-by-side with humans. This is why they move at a slower speed and apply less force. Testing firm TUVRheinland stated in a 2017 article about cobots and safety that apart from limiting the power of bots, companies should also employ fail-safes like person detection to keep employees safe. Cybersecurity measures should also be applied to protect the machines from being controlled by people other than the operators.

We make sure that both precautions are applied when we design and manufacture our machines here at Techman Robot. If a cobot has to work with a sharp object, however, you may need to create fencing or spacing rules for employees.

Conclusion

Collaborative robots present an optimistic future in manufacturing. Cobots show that AI and automation aren’t made to take human jobs. They’re made to work with employees to create products faster and with more precision. They also utilize smart technology, with downloadable applications that make it easy for someone with little to no programming experience to develop a set of commands for their bots with just a few taps from their tablet or smartphone. Some units are also extremely mobile and can adapt to different types of tasks.

It’s this combination of collaboration, versatility, and accessibility that make cobots appealing to manufacturers and investors everywhere. With the industry’s value continuing to rise, cobots may become a staple in every manufacturing firm’s production floor.