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How Collaborative Robots Continue to Impact the Manufacturing Industry

How Collaborative Robots Continue to Impact the Manufacturing Industry

Collaborative robots have facilitated an automatic bi-directional flow of data between machinery in a production setting and among workers and their surrounding equipment, thus integrating the overall production system.

Autonomous machines have been essentially created mainly by advanced robotics engineers to make work easier for all organizations and factories searching for an ideal automation solution for their respective needs.

This pursuit has ushered in a modern category of robots that can operate alongside human personnel by collaborating with them. The latest version of robots is conscious of their environment since they have safety measures and monitors to avoid collisions and accidents in a close setting with humans.

A Brief History of Robot Use in the Manufacturing Sector

Robots were in the manufacturing industry for far longer; for example, the first application of the Unimate was the first industrial robot in 1961. While larger factories, such as automotive equipment manufacturers, frequently use robots, smaller businesses are now embracing automation.

Universal Robots is the commercial forerunner of this collaborating robot concept. The company has set the benchmark for high volume and low mix-manufacturing for over a decade with its sophisticated commercial robots. 

Collaborative robots are a cage-free and easy-to-program automation tool for any company contemplating automation to boost their capacity utilization output by gaining an alternative that provides flexibility as consumers demand greater customization and faster delivery.

Cobots’ Contribution to the Sector

  • Enabling Smooth Automation 

Collaborative robots can give high-tech arms featuring motion sensors, customized with varying ranges and payloads, for every busy production employee who wishes they had an extra arm. 

Unlike the first one-job robotics models, this collaborative robot technology can simulate many hand-arm movements needed to perform everyday tasks like examining minor replacement parts and wheel hub installations.

Employees are set free from monotonous duties when using collaborative robots, allowing them to focus on activities that need more complex abilities. Three employees, for example, who previously spent their time examining a single package can concentrate on other activities like steering a forklift or evaluating the quality of total production hence empowering them to use their heads rather than their hands.

  • Mobility

Another advantage of autonomous robots is their adaptability, which allows them to work in practically any environment. They also consume lesser energy than the typical robots and may be reconfigured for different applications without disrupting production lines. 

As a result, they’re great for little work and short turnarounds. The smallest cobot can also do repetitive operations with high consistency while keeping the appropriate level of quality and uniformity.

  • Visibility

Many cobots have cameras incorporated into them to comprehend their surroundings. An interface in the camera helps to coordinate the necessary system required for them to work correctly.

Researchers are actively developing techniques to improve this synchronization by asking questions like ‘whether the cobot is moving toward where it perceives to be?’ or ‘Is the reference frame in sync with the actual environment?’

Robot visibility research also looks at sensors and techniques that can recognize and track humans, which have the potential to improve safety and overall human-robot interaction.

  • Applicability is Limitless

Unlike traditional robots, which can only execute the activity for which they were created, making them inflexible, collaborative robots are not tied to a certain industry or application. Still, they are incredibly versatile and efficient in any work they are programmed to complete. Cobots can be moved from one assignment to another, and earlier programs are applicable for recurring tasks.

  • Easy Programming 

The use of Cobots to conduct most manufacturing jobs is not difficult, but it could be even easier. And the simpler it is, the fewer chances there are for human-caused errors, resulting in safety and productivity issues.

Universal Robots actively creates innovative interfaces that use augmented reality and virtual reality to make the programming process easier and more efficient.

  • Investment Returns

The cobots are low-cost to maintain because they don’t require additional programming or safety features. They offer a fast investment payback time of 9 months when used wisely. As a result, they are a viable robotic automation alternative for small and medium-sized businesses.

A Case Study of Successful Collaborative robot Use in Manufacturing

Rousant Sherwoods Manufacturing (RSM) 

The manufacturing company has specialized in the subcontract fabrication of complex machined components for over 40 years and is situated in Henley-on-Thames. The organization has established a stellar international name in the medical, aerospace, and oil and gas fields.

RSM has always recognized that investing in cutting-edge manufacturing technologies is critical to its success. They have 11 multi-axis, multi-turret, twin-spindle Nakamura-Tome turn-mill centres and the modern 13-axis movable turning and milling capabilities.

As a result, both schedules and the overall set-ups required have been reduced. Confronted with an intense competition economy, the corporation focused its efforts on automation to increase productivity. Given that labour costs are the key competitive advantage in low-wage economies, RSM would have balanced the playing field by removing that factor from the equation.

How Collaborative Robots are Proving to be Useful

RSM evaluated the whole spectrum of products robots available and determined that the Universal Robots six-axis robot arm was the best fit for its machine-tending needs, owing to its ease of programming, competitive price, and collaborative working capabilities.

The robots employ cutting-edge sensor technology to stop when they encounter humans securely. The installation of the modern robotic systems is simple; programming one of their robots for a new duty takes 10 minutes. RSM purchased five UR5 and two UR10 robots from Universal Robots.

The company’s seven robots are currently busy catering to the company’s CNC machining tools while being constantly shifted to new equipment as contract demands change.

Cobots are simple to adapt to new procedures, allowing workers to automate any manual operation in the organization’s operational tasks that involve small batches and quick changeovers. The collaborative robots can also utilize earlier programming for recurring and repetitive tasks. At the company’s facility, a UR10 cobot is now in operation. In a 40-minute cycle, the robot puts square billets of aluminium alloys to be transformed into aeronautical components.

Final Remarks

Universal Robots is providing much-needed automation solutions to the manufacturing industry. The innovative safety features of these cobots enable a seamless marriage of human ingenuity and robot competence, resulting in increased productivity and growth.

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