Pros and Cons of Collaborative Robots
A collaborative robot, also known as a cobot, is a robotic manipulator that is designed to safely interact with humans. Unlike traditional industrial robots that must be kept away from workers, collaborative robots consist of several safety features which allow for human and robot interactions. The collaborative relationship between cobots and humans provides several advantages over traditional articulated robots but also some disadvantages. Below is an overview of the pros and cons of collaborative robots.
- • User-Friendly - One of the biggest advantages of collaborative robot manipulators is how user-friendly they are. Cobots can be installed and running within a few hours of unboxing. They typically do not require additional equipment such as a robotic work cell and safety devices. Programming is intuitive with hand guidance instead of traditional teach pendant programming. The FANUC CR-15ia and other cobots are ideal for those new to robotic automation.
- • Adaptable - Cobots tend to be compact and lightweight. This allows them to be installed in most spaces. The small size of the Universal UR5 also allows it to be easily moved around factory floors to fill in where necessary. The hand guidance capability of cobots allows for fast programming that takes place within minutes. This provides quick changeover times which is ideal for those with a high mix of products and low production volumes.
- • Cost-Effective - Collaborative robots are cost-effective as they do not require a work cell or extra safety equipment. They also do not require extensive training for employees in order to operate or a engineer for installation. Most collaborative robots earn their ROI (return on investment) within one year.
- • Directly Assist Workers - The ability of cobots to work right alongside and with workers is another big advantage. The Universal 16e can take over repetitive tasks, freeing workers to focus on more critical aspects of manufacturing. Implementing collaborative robots alongside manual labor can have significant productivity gains of up to 85%.
- • Light Payload - Collaborative robots are only capable of handling light payloads. Currently, FANUC’s CR-35iA is the highest payload cobot at 35 kg. However, most collaborative robot payloads fall under 15 kg. This means cobots cannot automate heavy duty applications unlike traditional six axis robots.
- • Speed Limitations - The maximum operation speed of collaborative robots is limited as this is one of many safety features that makes them suitable for barrier-free operation. Cobot speed is on average four times less than the FANUC LR Mate 200id and traditional industrial robot arms. Applications requiring high speed and fast cycle times cannot be automated by cobots.
- • Limited Precision - Collaborative robots are also not as precise as traditional factory robots. Lack of precision is one of the drawbacks to hand guidance programming. It can be difficult to program precise movements with hand guidance as opposed to teach pendant programming. For tasks requiring precision, the Yaskawa Motoman HP20D or another manufacturing robot arm is best.