Are you a young and passionate engineer who is looking for how to increase your productivity without expanding the labor? Then you should take a look at this article. Ever since the invention of robot, the productivity of the manufacturing industry had significantly improved. Robot is a machine, one programmable by a computer which is able to carry out complex series of actions automatically. However, robot often gives consumer impressions of bulky, dangerous (without proper training) and most of the time not user-friendly. As the advancement of the technology and the demand of the market nowadays, manufacturing industry demands more and more out a conventional automation is able to provide, plus the increasing concern of human factor engineering and ergonomics, all these cause the emerging of cobot.
What is Cobot?
In urban vocabulary, a cobot is a contracted term for collaborative robot. Generally, “Collaborative robots are complex machines which work hand in hand with human beings. In a shared work process, they support and relieve the human operator.” – by Mathieu Bélanger-Barrette (Production Engineer at Robotiq) .
To put it into simpler terms, a cobot is a robot which interacts with the userefficiently to complete the desired and complex tasks without having problems and challenges. For example, during production the operator has to perform repetitive actions to ensure output, but the repetitive postures mostly will cause fatigue among the operators which will decrease the productivity or even more serious problem like Muscular Skeletal Disease (MSD). So in this case, what if there is a machine which is simple enough to use when you request complex operations meanwhile it can help you reduce issues like MSD? Yes, the answer is cobot.
By integrating collaborative robot into production, the benefits are:For example, during production the operator has to perform repetitive actions to ensure output, but the repetitive postures mostly will cause fatigue among the operators which will decrease the productivity or even more serious problem like Muscular Skeletal Disease (MSD). So in this case, what if there is a machine which is simple enough to use when you request complex operations meanwhile it can help you reduce issues like MSD? Yes, the answer is cobot.
- Safety – Traditional automation requires fencing and intensive training before handling the robot to ensure the safety of the operator. However, operator can interactively handle the collaborative robot without any risk. For example, cobot will have safety features like emergency stop button, external force sensors to detect any external forces and stop immediately to prevent accident, or even proximity safety feature(cobot will operate at lower speed when operator steps into the cobot’s operation proximity).
- Flexibility – Companies today are always trying to diversify their products for multiple income generation, but with conventional robot, every new product will require reprogramming and resetting, the interval time usually will affect the productivity of the operation. So, with the aid of collaborative robot, the reprogramming and resetting time interval will be significantly shortened as the user interface is straightforward for the user even without any prior knowledge to coding, hence the productivity can be effectively boosted.
- User-friendliness – To maximize the use of the automation, we have to simplify the interaction between the user and machine. The functions of cobot are straightforward and easily programmable, so simple even a child is able to master the command of the robot, that is the goal of the robotic manufacturers. Comparatively, traditional robotic manufacturer will provide training for their customers after the purchase, this will lead to troublesome situation when the trained personnel is on leave or resigned.
Cost – If the installation of the new robot requires very high capital, then the ROI period of the company will be extended. Financially, it is always undesirable, after all business is business. However, with the advancing information technology and material science we have today, the cost of installing collaborative robot is getting relatively lower and sometimes even lower than conventional robot. Furthermore, with the possibilities of Cobot able to achieve, the ROI is promising.
In conclusion, machine and robot undeniably help to improve our daily productivity, ideally we as human would even wish that robot can fully perform our daily tasks, but there are still limitations. The idea generation of collaborative robot has completely redefined the interaction between human and robot, it makes a big milestone for what collaboration between human and machine is able to achieve and the possibilities are limitless.
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