Do You Need a Cobot or Industrial Robot?
Cobots (collaborative robots) and traditional industrial robots are both commonly used to automate manufacturing processes. Cobots are compact robots with built-in safety features that allow for barrier-free operation. They also have a shallow learning curve with intuitive hand guidance programming. Traditional industrial robots on the other hand vary in size from the small to the large heavy lifters. These articulated robots are designed for precision and speed. They also must operate away from humans. With the many stark differences between these two types of robots the kinds of applications they can automate are not always interchangeable. Each excels and is suited for different application scenarios.
- • Human Involvement - Applications that will still require direct human involvement or humans working within close proximity are best for being automated by the Universal UR10 and other cobots. Cobot safety features such as force sensors, softer exteriors, rounded edges, and speed limits make them safe for human interaction. Traditional industrial robots must be closed off from humans while operating.
- • High Speed Applications - Applications involving high speed are best for traditional industrial robots. Since the FANUC M-20ia is not force limiting like cobots, it features extremely fast operation speeds. Traditional robots are also required to have barriers for worker safety, allowing them to operate at their maximum speed without any restrictions.
- • Low Payload Applications - Low payload applications can be automated by either a cobot or a traditional robot with a low payload. Most cobots feature payloads under 20 kg except for the 35 kg FANUC CR-35ia. Small traditional industrial robots also feature low payloads. In this case the type of robot you choose will likely come down to any compounding factors like operating around humans.
- • High Payload Applications - High payload applications will need to be automated by a traditional industrial robot. Some traditional robots can handle payloads exceeding 1,000 kg. The FANUC M-900ia/600 is one of several high payload robots. Currently, the highest cobot payload is 35 kg which is not suitable for heavy lifting jobs.
- • Hazardous Work Environments - Automating applications with hazardous work environments are best for traditional industrial robots. There are many traditional robots designed with high IP ratings for such environments. The FANUC M-710ic/50 is one of those six axis robots. There are also traditional robots built with explosion-proof arms for working with combustibles.
- • High Changeover Processes - Those with a high amount of changeover such as a high mix of parts can benefit from the intuitive operation of cobots. The Universal UR5 can quickly be reprogrammed within minutes for new tasks through hand guidance mitigating any downtime for process changes.
- • Large Work Envelopes - Traditional industrial robots will be a good fit for applications with large work envelopes. Most traditional robots have a longer reach than cobots which tend to be shorter due to their compact size. There are also extended arm robots that can reach greater amounts of space.
- • Force Sensitive Work - Since cobots feature built-in force sensors they are ideal for automating force sensitive applications. Force sensors must be added to traditional robots, creating an additional expense.
- • High Accuracy Applications - Traditional robots are designed for high accuracy making them the best fit for such applications. With hand guidance programming, cobots tend to be less accurate than traditional robots programmed with teach pendants.