Not all robots are programmed to perform tasks by themselves. Some of them work alongside humans. They’re called “cobots,” short for “collaborative robots.”
Here’s how they work.
An ideal team consists of members with different but complementary skills. Each member takes care of the task that corresponds to the abilities he or she possesses. A cobot could take care of the repetitive, monotonous chores that people would rather not do. It either follows human instructions or responds to human actions.
Read More about a “Cobot”
Most organizations that utilize robots typically choose cobots over industrial robots. But how are these different?
Cobots Versus Industrial Robots
When it comes to upfront costs, cobots are a much cheaper alternative to industrial robots, making them ideal for small businesses. Cobots are particularly useful in the manufacturing industry for those that want to benefit from the use of robots but can’t afford the way more expensive industrial robots. But who can use cobots in place of industrial robots? In order to answer this question, you need to know how they differ.
3 Factors to Consider When Purchasing Cobots
One of the main challenges of jumping on the automation bandwagon is cost. Aside from upfront costs, you also have to think about and factor in maintenance, actual use, and additional equipment to ensure operational safety. For example, cobot manufacturers may tout that their products are safe to use alongside humans, but you can’t be complacent. You’ll have to think about security and safety issues. And so you may need to invest in force limiters or fencing technology.
Another factor to consider is the actual energy consumption compared with the cobot’s productivity. Cobots that consume low energy but can only do one or two tasks may not be efficient after all.
You need to understand that cobots are programmed to follow safety standards. As such, the higher their load, the slower they get, which can hurt your productivity.
In contrast, industrial robots are capable of much higher capacities and accomplish tasks faster, subsequently increasing a company’s productivity.
Note, though, that cobots are more flexible than industrial robots. Cobots aren’t limited to performing a single task, making them more scalable, and easier to integrate into production lines.
In sum, for organizations that want to automate production but don’t require heavy tasks, cobots may be enough.
Cobots are way easier to program than industrial robots, too. Industrial robots often require extensive and advanced computer programming skills. Cobots, on the other hand, can be instructed to learn on their own.
An operator can, for instance, program a cobot using the learning-by-doing approach. The operator can perform the necessary movements using the robot arm, which then learns, records, and remembers the tasks, allowing the cobot to repeat them on its own.
As we’ve seen, cobots make it possible for even small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to reap the benefits of automation despite a limited budget and technical know-how.