The manufacturing industry is evolving, and trends are pointing toward automation. In the past, automation was mostly an option or a luxury for big companies. Still, the industry’s current state requires even small and medium-scale businesses to have some level of automation to have a competitive advantage. The COVID-19 pandemic further increased automation in many industries, and this trend has continued.
The latest technology in the world of automation is collaborative robots, simply called cobots. Cobots are designed to work with people and are equipped with sensors to detect human presence.
There are several benefits of using cobots over traditional automation. For one, cobots are compact and easy to install. Their applications are also flexible, as they can be used in different stages of the manufacturing process. Cobots can perform simple and technical tasks with a high degree of precision. And the one that appeals most to businesses is the potential of cobots to reduce production costs.
Cobots have found a home in many industries and below are some of the most popular types of this trending technology:
- Welding Cobots
Believe it or not, welders are something of a scarce commodity. According to the American Welding Association, about 375,000 welders are needed to meet demands across several industries. Part of the reason for this is the younger generation’s preference for white-collar jobs.
While this is great news for current and aspiring welders, it’s not so for manufacturing industries that need this skill. Thankfully, industries can use a cobot welder to automate certain welding processes. From electronics to aerospace, automotive, and so on, welding cobots have been successfully applied with great success.
Cobot welding is more productive and efficient than human welders. As a result, they are usually used to perform repetitive welding tasks, freeing up precious time for human welders while working alongside them.
- Dispensing Cobots
More often than not, dispensing is a boring and repetitive task in the manufacturing industry, and it requires little creativity and wastes precious time. Automating monotonous and repetitive tasks is usually beneficial to manufacturing industries, and dispensing is no different.
By dispensing cobots, large and SMEs can save precious time and allow employees to focus on more important tasks. Also, cobots can perform the dispensing operation with a high degree of efficiency as they can dispense precise quantities of materials and use them exactly how it’s supposed to be used.
Wastage and errors are minimized, and the quality of the products is consistent.
- Assembling Cobots
Assembling is common in many manufacturing processes and can sometimes be dangerous. Cobots can be used to automate this process to free up employee time and speed up the production process. The quality of assembling will also be high and consistent. When the assembly operation is dangerous, cobots improve the safety of employees.
Industries that have successfully implemented assembly cobots include construction, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and electronics, with many more industries set to increase the adoption of assembling cobots.
- Material Removal Cobots
Material removal operations in manufacturing include drilling, grinding, milling, recurring, and routing. These tasks require a high degree of precision and efficiency. However, many businesses lack enough skilled workers to handle these tasks.
This makes material removal cobots ‘God sent for many industries as they can perform material removal operations effectively and efficiently. Cobots are even more needed when the materials to be handled are toxic or dangerous. At the end of the operation, you can always easily repurpose the cobot for another operation.
- Quality Inspection Cobots
Quality inspection is one of the most important operations in a manufacturing company, and there’s no room for error as the process must be carried out efficiently. Thankfully, cobots are increasingly used for quality inspection as they can transfer materials into testing devices. Some cobots are even capable of optical inspection, thereby increasing the versatility of cobots’ application in quality inspection.
There are several benefits of using quality inspection cobots. For one, cobots will never lose concentration which translates to a minimal error rate. As you already know, cobots are faster than humans, which means faster testing times.
- Finishing Cobots
Products undergo the last working steps in the finishing department. Here, polishing and finishing operations are performed on the products. For best and consistent results, a specific amount of pressure needs to be applied to the product. And in most situations, workers can always replicate the specific pressure.
Finishing cobots can deliver consistent results and complete a wide range of finishing operations. Skilled workers can also be used to their full potential by having them focus on more important tasks.