How Cobots can revolutionise your business
In 1996, two North-western University professors, J Edward Colgate and Michael Peshkin, invented what was to allow a revolution in industrial robotics: Collaborative Robots.
Today, Cobots, the term we know collaborative robots more commonly, was coined by Brent Gillespie, a researcher at the same university. In fact, the word Cobot has become so ubiquitous that the Wall Street Journal chose it as one of ‘the words of the future’ in 2000.
A 1997 US patent described cobots as ‘an apparatus and method for direct physical interaction between a person and a computer-controlled manipulator’. The original Cobot came out of a General Motors initiative to implement robots in the automotive sector as they wanted a way that robots could collaborate with its workers.
Typical robots used in an industrial setting have no concept of anything around them that could be hurt or damaged, so they need to be used in isolation or effectively shielded to stop accidents and workers being inadvertently injured or worse.
How Cobots work in an industrial setting
Traditional industrial robots are designed and programmed to perform a single task – welding, drilling, spraying etc. However, as I mentioned earlier, they remain isolated from the human workforce by fencing or barriers because of their size, speed, and weight, making them inherently hazardous to the rest of the workforce.
Cobots can work in collaboration with human co-workers safely due to inherent safety features that are designed into them. In addition, they can be mobile multitaskers, small and lightweight; they can be moved between areas of the manufacturing floor and, when in their new position, quickly switch between tasks thanks to their intuitive GUIs.
For SMEs who struggle to justify the cost of traditional industrial robots to automate their processes, the cost of utilising cobots for automation will come as a refreshing surprise. Starting at as little as £16,000, they are affordable, adaptable, and available more readily than typical industrial robots. Finally, the demand for cobots is increasing and is expected to rise to 34% of all robot sales by 2025.
Benefits of Cobots to manufacturers
Cobots aren’t designed to remove human workers from jobs entirely but to integrate into the portion of repetitive and dull jobs that could risk errors or injury because of human operators losing focus.
They are tireless members of your team who, if required, are able to work around the clock while consistently providing a high-quality service and guaranteeing an end product that will always be as expected.
Given the skills gap that currently exists in manufacturing and many other industrial enterprises including, agriculture, life sciences, consumer goods, plastic manufacturing and electronics, Cobots could be the answer.
It’s possible to customise Cobots with many tools like cameras, suction caps and welding tips meaning they could have unlimited applications in your operation.
The type of jobs that Cobots excel at include:
- Moving items from a conveyor belt to a tray
- Machine tending, e.g., injection moulding and CNC machines
- Process tasks when equipped with the appropriate tools – drilling, welding, gluing
- Assembly of finished items
- Finishing – sand, polish, trim
This list is by no means exhaustive, and with the right attachments and programming, Cobots can assist your human workers in increasing efficiency, productivity and ultimately profitability.
We are a leading supplier of industrial robot systems and can now provide a complete range of Cobots to work alongside your workforce with little or no guarding.
Our Cobots come with payload capacities of between 3kg and 20 kg allowing them to perform a range of tasks. They tend to be dexterous and nimble at the smaller end of the scale, ideal for fiddly tasks working with small parts or jobs performed at a workbench that involves intricate placement. Cobots with higher capacity could lift and stack items, unload vehicles or do any other task that requires a higher payload capability.
An additional and significant benefit of Geku cobots for SMEs is the affordability of cobots compared to traditional industrial robots, which are often out of the reach of businesses that want to increase automation in their operations. Starting from just £16,000, they offer an inexpensive and versatile introduction to automation.
Compared to traditional industrial robots, Cobots are viewed as a safe working partner for your workforce. This inherent safety is achieved in several ways.
To ensure human safety when working with Cobots, they have four essential capabilities:
- Safety monitored stop – when something triggers the robot’s safety parameters, it stops until it is explicitly told to restart.
- Hand guiding for programming and teaching a sequence of steps.
- Speed and separation monitoring track where a human is and safety zones that impose speed limits.
- Power and force limiting.
Cobots are also fitted with sensors for tactile sensitivity, accelerometers to detect nearby movement, 3D vision cameras to detect objects, lasers to trigger an action and force-torque sensors.
If you’d like to learn more about Geku Cobots and see what they are capable of doing we’d be happy to come to your premises to demonstrate our cutting-edge range of Cobots or alternatively, visit our facility in Kent to see for yourself how versatile and safe our Cobots are and the impact they could have on your productivity and profitability.
Call Chris Burton today to book a demonstration.
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