Cobot

What is a collaborative robot?

What is a cobot?

The name cobot is an abbreviation of collaborative robot. A robot that can work together with both people and cobots. An affordable solution to automate processes and support employees. Cobots are small in size, can be deployed in different places, are able to perform various tasks and above all are safe. We work with three brands of Cobots: Universal Robots, Techman Robot and Franka Emika.

The origin of the cobot

The first cobot was invented in 1996 by J. Edward Colgate and Michael Peshkin. They call the cobot 'a device and method for direct physical interaction between a person and a computerized manipulator'. Over the years several cobots have been introduced to the market. Kuka Robotics, who also launched one of the first industrial robots on the market, launched their first cobot in 2004, the LBR 3. This was the result of a collaboration with several companies. Universal Robots, one of the largest suppliers of robots in the world, released their first cobot, the UR5, in 2008. Four years later, the UR10 was launched, followed by the UR3 in 2015, a special cobot for a tabletop.

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Cobot vs robot

An interesting development within robotics is the emergence of collaborative robots, in short 'cobots'. Cobots offer several advantages compared to traditional robots and have a unique feature that fits perfectly with the personal development of employees. Collaborative robots (as the name suggests) are made to work together with people. These robots are sensitive and therefore feel touch and the environment around them. They do not have to stand behind large safety screens and the risk of accidents is small.

 

 

Cobots within SMEs

In contrast to a number of years ago, the cobots are now also accessible to SMEs. Nowadays the cobots are much more affordable, so not only Multinationals, but also a medium or large company can use cobots to lighten the workload.

 

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Purpose robotization

The main goal of robotization is of course to optimize a process. In other words, achieving the maximum goal at minimum cost. Errors are minimized, employees have more time for other things, productivity increases and ultimately results in a better operating result. Setting up and setting up a cobot naturally requires an investment, but in the long run it saves money and even makes a profit.

 

Effect on employees

Production work such as packing goods, replenishing stocks or assembly line work is characterized by terms such as 'monotonous' and 'repetitive' Also, this type of work is often the cause of RSI, Repetitive Strain Injury. A condition that is caused by frequently performing the same movement.

By having the work of a production worker performed by a robot, the production worker could focus on other tasks. Tasks that require creativity and solution-oriented thinking such as maintenance or quality control.

By giving employees creative and solution-oriented tasks, the work they do is enriched and contributes to the personal development of people. In addition, it stimulates diversity and flexibility, creating an attractive work environment. These kinds of factors ensure that employees find more joy in the work they do, become more involved in the work they do and become more productive.

Cobot Franka Emika Panda
Cobot Franka Emika Panda

Where can cobots be deployed?

The advantage of a cobot is that it is small, lightweight and easy to assemble. The cobot can carry out its tasks in places where there is little space and is easy to move. For example, you could mount this collaborative robot on a moving workbench and let it do its work somewhere else on a regular basis, but a robot can also stay in one place for a longer period of time.

Cobot applications

Cobots can be used in various industries and have the ability to run different applications. The branches in which a cobot can be used are: the metal industry, the automotive industry, the food industry, the plastics industry, the packaging industry, and the electronics industry. Cobots can also be seen more and more often on the work floor within a laboratory or hospital. As in other industries, cobots are used to increase production within a company or the cobot fills staff shortages.

Examples of actions that the cobot can perform are packing, testing or for example screwing.

Cobot Techman Robot
Franka Emika Panda

Cobots, how to program?

Traditional robots require a lot of knowledge and time to program actions and can often perform even a single action. Unlike the traditional robots currently used within the industry, a cobot is easy to program. By means of user-friendly software and mobile applications, cobots can learn new actions. You can also manually position a cobot in the desired positions and save them in the software. Because a cobot is so easy to program, they can be quickly implemented in a process and it is even possible to let them perform different tasks.

Price cobot

The large supply of various brands of cobots makes it more difficult to provide a direct estimate of the price of cobots in general. In the field of collaborative robots there is a manual like: the payload is higher, so the purchase amount of the cobot will automatically be higher as well. A complex design as opposed to a simple design can also make the difference in price. In general, powerful cobots that have a higher payload and a larger row time are also more expensive.

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Fast ROI

The implementation price of a collaborative robot is many times lower than that of a traditional robot. The reason for this is that no extra safety measures need to be taken when purchasing a cobot. No fences need to be placed to protect employees. Depending on the application(s) the cobot will perform and how many hours the cobot will perform a task per day, it is possible to recoup the cobot with a very short ROI.

 

UR Cobot

Universal Robots started in 2009 with the introduction of cobots and now has four variants of cobots on the market: the UR3(e), the UR5(e), the UR10(e) and the UR16e. The cobots of Universal Robots are characterized by their flexibility, light weight and user-friendliness. The perfect cobots for medium-sized companies that need flexible, effective automation with a quick return on investment.

Would you like to read more about the cobots of Universal Robots? Click here.

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Cobot Franka Emika Panda

Franka Emika Panda

The Franka Emika Panda is designed to move like a human with high sensitivity in all seven joints. The Franka Emika Panda is agile as a human arm with human feeling, a completely smart interactive solution, easy to set up and inactive to use.

The panda has built-in sensors that make the cobot 'sensitive'. One of the unique characteristics needed to work safely with people. As soon as the cobot is blocked it stops immediately. It can therefore be stopped with one arm without using too much force. Of course, the usual safety measures are also added, such as the emergency stop. Want to know more about the Franka Emika Panda? Click here.

 

Techman Robot

The collaborative robots of Techman Robot meet the latest safety requirements for cobots, this makes it possible to use these robots within a production environment where it can work together with people without required safety measures.

The three concepts on which Techman Robots are based are: smart, safe and simple. The cobots are smart because of their built-in vision, they are able to recognize patterns, localize objects, detect colors and can even read barcodes! Safe as mentioned above, the cobots of Techman Robots meet the latest safety requirements. Read more about the cobots of Techman Robot here.

Techman Robot TM5-700

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Advantages cobots

Cobots can be used anywhere in a production process
It was briefly touched upon above. A cobot is a flexible robot and adding new tasks to the cobot is quite easy. A cobot could perform the same task for 40 hours, but it is also possible to have the cobot perform a different task every day. This way you can look for places within the production process where the cobot can be of value at that moment. This flexibility also makes it possible to hire the cobot as a temporary employee. During peak moments within the production process it is more practical to hire a cobot for a certain period of time, than to hire an employee for a short period of time.

Consistent in quality
Cobots, unlike humans, are very accurate. The Franka Emika Panda, for example; this cobot can perform actions up to 0.1 mm accurate. In addition, a cobot will never deviate from his actions and tasks always perform with the same force. For example, the tightening of screws, this will always take place with the same tension and pressure which ensures consistency in quality.

Easy to program with software and apps
Traditional robots require a lot of knowledge and time to program actions and can often perform even a single action. Unlike the traditional robots currently used within the industry, a cobot is easy to program. By means of user-friendly software and mobile applications, cobots can learn new actions. You can also manually position a cobot in the desired positions and save them in the software. Because a cobot is so easy to program, they can be quickly implemented in a process and it is even possible to let them perform different tasks.

Normally it takes a few days (or maybe even weeks) to install a robot before it is 'up and running'. Installing a cobot, on the other hand, can be done within half an hour and with the user-friendly software a cobot could perform its first task within an hour. This makes a cobot available as a temp or flexible employee who can perform different tasks in different departments.