The collaborative robots market share is expected to soar in the coming years. Industry leaders Universal Robots have identified six common applications that most companies and businesses are choosing to automate.
1. Picking and Placing
As the name suggests, a pick and place collaborative robot picks an item and places it somewhere else. For instance, in an assembly process a pick and place cobot can pick an item from a conveyor belt and place that item on another workspace.
Pick and place cobots are normally mounted on a stable ground and positioned in such a way that they can access the entire work envelope.
The biggest benefit of pick and place cobots is that they are fast compared to humans. Pick and place cobots have been known to achieve a throughput of 200 items per minute.
2. Machine Tending
Machine tending is the process of loading or unloading a given machine. In a given manufacturing company, part of the manufacturing process might involve loading the raw material onto a machine X, machine X then processes the raw material, and the resulting product is unloaded from the machine X for more processing somewhere else. That is the perfect definition of machine tending.
Machine tending is repetitive, boring and time-consuming. A collaborative robot can take over this task, make the process more efficient and eliminate the risk to the human workforce of interacting with a complex machine.
3. Finishing Jobs
In a manufacturing environment, finishing tasks involves tasks such as polishing, deburring and grinding. Take for example a metal cutting process, the final product ought to be accurate size wise.
Finishing tasks are often physically demanding and take place in uncomfortable conditions while using manual noisy tools. Cobots have the required accuracy, force and repetitive potential to accomplish finishing jobs continuously. Normally, a human performing a finishing task must take breaks every now and then but a cobot in such a situation does not require a break.
4. Welding, Gluing and Dispensing (Process Tasks)
A process task is any task where a tool interacts with a workpiece. Think about welding, welding is the process of joining two materials. Robotic welding, therefore, involves a robot performing the actual weld and handling the parts being welded.
Other processing tasks include the gluing process and dispensing. A good example of a cobot that can handle process tasks is the Universal Robots’ cobot which has a welding end-effector. Robotic welding is a particularly popular process task, commanding about 20% of industrial applications. However, cobots are effective in most process task.
5. Packaging and Palletizing
At the end of the manufacturing process, products need to be prepared for transport. A packaging robot will package the product the place it on a pallet ready for shipment.
This kind of robot is similar to a pick and place cobot in that the product must be picked repetitively. However, it is also different because the palletizing process is very specific and requires that the cobot place the item in a precise manner hence precision is key.
A packaging and palletizing cobot hastens the process because a cobot is faster compared to the human equivalent. Additionally, the cobot is more accurate.
Before a product is released into the market, it must undergo inspection to guarantee quality. Inspection is a time-consuming task that requires an employee to inspect each and every product while eliminating the faulty ones so that only quality products go to market.
An inspection cobot is outfitted with sensors, and cameras then programmed to recognize quality and faulty product.
The benefit of an inspection cobot is that it can go through many products per time, plus it does not need downtime. The cobot can continue the inspection even during night hours, unlike a human workforce.
Though the above applications are the most common cobot applications, one should not despair at not seeing their application on the list. A cobot can always be customized to execute a unique task. Consulting a cobot provider is the best way to determine the value cobots will bring to your business.