Cobots have been one of the biggest robot trends in 2020. As more manufacturers look to automate their production processes, the use of collaborative robots has grown significantly. Cobots are different than traditional industrial robots as they are designed to work alongside or together with humans. Their special safety features make them safe for human interaction, allowing them to automate more creative tasks. Research has shown the collaboration of humans and cobots can increase productivity levels by up to 85%. Collaborative robots can automate many different types of robotic applications, but the best ones for cobot automation include:
- • Pick and Place - Automating pick and place applications with cobots has proven to be incredibly successful. For those that are new to collaborative robots, pick and place applications are often recommended for first time cobot automation. The FANUC Cr15ia can easily automate repetitive tasks of picking parts and placing them onto conveyors. For more advanced processes, cobots can be integrated with a robotic vision system for enhanced guidance.
- • Packaging - Automated packaging applications with small payload capacities are also ideal for cobot automation. Before shipment, products must be safely and properly packaged. Cobots can assist with wrapping, box assembly, and loading products into boxes. Their accuracy and repeatability ensure proper, consistent packaging for the safe delivery of products.
- • Palletizing - When you think of automating palletizing applications you may think of a heavy payload robot like the FANUC M410ib/160 instead of a Universal UR10 cobot. However, light weight palletizing applications can be successfully automated with collaborative robots. Palletizing tasks such as stacking products onto a pallet can be tedious and tiring for workers. Automating with cobots speeds up the process and relieves workers from strenuous tasks.
- • Inspection - The automation of inspection processes for quality control is relatively new to robotics. Human quality control inspections are inconsistent, prone to errors, and inaccurate. Staring at products for several hours can make workers tired, lose concentration, and more likely to miss defects. Cobots are ideal for inspection applications as they can scan products around the clock with no issues. Integrating a FANUC CR-7ia with a vision system allows it to compare finished products to CAD models, ensuring all defects are caught before products are shipped.
- • Finishing - Cobots are equipped with force control sensors as part of their safety features, but these sensors also make them ideal for automating finishing applications. Finishing processes including automated polishing, sanding, and grinding can be performed by cobots. Force sensors help cobots determine and sense the proper amount of pressure to use for increased finishing accuracy and consistency. Products are uniform and defect free for the highest quality finish.
- • Assembly - Automated assembly is another application that is ideal for cobot automation. Cobots are able to accurately assemble items preventing errors and reducing cycle times. Workers can guide cobots by manually moving their robotic manipulator arm through the desired process steps. They are then able to repeat each step over and over. Cobots can also assist workers with assemblies, helping with intricate parts that may be too small for human handling.