Cobots started taking over the robot market as early as 2017. Research has revealed that the collaborative robot market is expected to grow. Various industries have begun taking cobots seriously and are considering them as avenues of pioneering automation in the future.
Cobots are excellent because they can excel in workspaces that had previously been occupied by manual operators and execute their previous chores meticulously. Collaborative robots, in a sense, are small industrial robots designed with original safety measures such as collision control and force feedback.
The safety measures that are installed in cobots make them safe for manual operators to work around. Cobots can carry out complex tasks, either autonomously or semi-autonomously. This review will focus on the applications of cobots in a work environment.
Applications of Collaborative Robots In The Workplace
Pick & Place
Pick and place is a very recurring action that previously manual operators in industries were tasked with. These are very tedious tasks and can often lead to the operator making mistakes, while the repeated physical movements associated with them can lead to stress fractures.
This is where collaborative robots come in; they do not tire, get fatigued, or get distracted. Collaborative robots will generally pick an item from one point and place it in the next without any complications.
Machine tending takes various names, including automated machine tending and robotic machine tending. Machine tending is the process of loading or unloading a given device with parts or material. However manual operators also carry out loading and unloading tasks.
Machine tending requires standing in front of an injection molding machine, CNC machine, or another machine for long periods to tend to operations. This is a long and tiresome process for a human operator. Cobots come in and free up the manual operator and can manage several machines at a go.
Packaging & Palletizing
Palletizing is the act of loading or unloading fragments, boxes, or other parts from pallets. This feat can involve robots and thus be termed as robotic palletizing. Collaborative robots can be reliable options in palletizing for various industries such as shipping, manufacturing, and food processing, among others.
Cobots often come in a wide range with distinct reach and payloads. These are highly repetitive tasks that involve small payloads, making them ideal for cobots. Conveyor application is required to synchronize the cobot’s movements with the conveyor belt.
Process tasks involve a tool coming into contact with a workpiece. Such actions include welding, gluing, among others. This procedure is very repetitive, and it takes quite a while for manual operators to master this craft.
A cobot will perform this action on one unit and repeat it accurately on others. The fundamental merit of a collaborative robot is the ease of programming to handle these tasks by the use of the computer-aided design technique or position methods.
Manual operators perform finishing tasks with tools, and they necessitate a considerable amount of force for execution. The vibration produced by these tools can cause harm to the manual operators over time.
A collaborative robot can bring in the necessary accuracy, repetition, and force required to fulfill finishing tasks on behalf of the manual operator. The machine can learn the craft manually or by programming via a computer.
The final application of a collaborative robot is quality inspection of parts. This procedure involves inspecting finished parts and part verification against CAD models. Placing multi-pixeled cameras on the cobots can enhance the procedure and bring in faster results. The use of cobots for inspection will result in a high-quality checks that guarantee quality parts.
To sum it all up, collaborative robots can be utilized for an array of functions in an industrial setting, as we have discussed above. Although the capital outlay on a cobot is high, they make for a good return on investment in the long run.
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