#749 – 5 Applications of Collaborative Robots in Manufacturing

Posted on | The Agurban

A couple of months back, we shared
The Great Robot Takeover:  Fact of Fiction? That included one of our first discussions of collaborative robots. This week we are sharing, in part, a post that appeared on forbes.com that details ways in which “cobot” use will continue to grow in the manufacturing sector.

5 Applications of Collaborative Robots In Manufacturing
Naveen Joshi, Cognitive World  |  Aug. 9, 2019

Over the last few years, automation has gained immense popularity in various industries. And the manufacturing industry sits on the cutting edge of automation technology, ahead of other industries. With automation, manufacturing companies have revolutionized the way activities were once performed. With autonomous systems coming into the picture, human participation and involvement have reduced significantly. As a result, work gets done faster and more importantly, with greater precision.

Though automation changes the nature of employment, it has brought in huge profit opportunities to the manufacturing industry. One of the most extensively used types of automation machines is the collaborative robot. Robots programmed to operate 24×7 in most any situation to help manufacturing companies achieve greater productivity, higher throughput and greater revenue gains. Besides, robots in manufacturing now have the cognitive abilities to take decisions independently. As the underlying technologies mature, collaborative robots in manufacturing can be made more versatile to take up more creative tasks. (Following is) a look at how robots are benefiting manufacturing companies with their tireless work capabilities.

  1. Picking, packing, and palletizing

Picking, packing, and palletizing are activities that need to be accurately performed. Manually performing these tasks can be mind-numbing, labor-intensive, and also time-consuming.

Collaborative robots (cobots), programmed to work alongside and share the human workload, have a very interesting role to play in a manufacturing company. One of the most important advantages of deploying collaborative robots is speed. Having the potential to function around the clock, these robots can work for long hours and even days (unlike humans). Robots can pick different items (which are required in constructing a product), pack them in different cartons, and palletize them.

  1. Welding

One of the most cumbersome tasks in a manufacturing plant is welding and soldering. …A shortage of 290,000 welding professionals is expected according to the American Welding Society. Hence, a majority of companies are turning to collaborative robots to reap long-term advantages. It is reported that 29 percent of robotic applications are welders.

With collaborative robots, manufacturing companies will see: an increased rate in their production rate; no errors that are otherwise seen in their human counterparts; an improved work quality with high-level uniformity; and a reduction in wastage.

  1. Assembling items

For some production processes, manufacturers have to assemble together separate items to form whole products. The entire process is not only time-consuming but can also be quite boring for humans. The likelihood of humans making mistakes is high. Even the smallest mistake can cause huge losses to the company, ruining the bottom line and brand reputation.

With collaborative robots coming to the limelight, workers (can) be freed from performing these dull and monotonous tasks

  1. Handling materials

Material handling represents 20 percent of the US economy alone. Imagine the numbers if we consider global statistics.

Collaborative robots can easily understand work requirements and move materials to the desired location at faster speeds. Besides, collaborative robots can help in providing a hazard-free work environment by taking care of harmful raw materials automatically. By using collaborative robots for material handling, manufacturing companies can witness: increased worker health and safety; reduced costs; faster production cycles; and reduced downtime.

  1. Inspecting products for quality

For any business, maintaining precision in the work they do is key to quality and profitability. To ensure high-level customer satisfaction, the manufactured products should ensure high quality.

…collaborative robots can perform this dull task with 100% accuracy without exhaustion or boredom. The robots can easily pinpoint even the smallest defects and notify to concerned officers before the packing process initiates. As a result, companies will witness lower operating costs, higher production quality, and faster cycle times with collaborative robots.

Working hand-in-hand with humans, collaborative robots will precisely perform complex, dull, and even cumbersome tasks at faster rates. Thus, significant returns on investments can be achieved by adopting collaborative robots. In fact, deploying collaborative robots in manufacturing companies is the only answer if they want to thrive in an increasingly competitive market.