Collaborative Robots: Common and Unique Applications

Collaborative robots or cobots are the service robots that are majorly used in material-handling, manufacturing, and laboratories. The advent of cobots has enabled a trustworthy working environment where humans can safely work alongside robots that are portable and easily programmable.

TYPES OF COBOTS:

Despite being a comparatively new invention in the robotics industry, several types of cobots have already been introduced to the Collaborative Robots Market. The rising adoption of cobots in a wide range of industries has prompted rapid developments in this technology, which resulted in the introduction of four key types of cobots:  safety monitored stop, power and force limiting, speed and separation, and hand guiding. Each type of cobot is demarcated based on its programming features and safety or on its capability to evade potentially dangerous happenstances with human workers.

MAJOR APPLICATIONS OF COBOTS:

Some of the common applications of cobot include pick & place material handling, quality testing, machine tending, packaging, assembly, and welding.

Pick & Place:

Deploying cobots for the pick & place tasks adds value to the production and simultaneously brings significant improvements in quality. Pick & place is a repetitive and monotonous task that often leads to mistakes. Further, repetitive physical motions can result in strain or injury. Therefore, collaborative robots are used for pick & place across several industries to increase their productivity and quality.

Quality Testing:

A robot arm with a vision camera is used for nondestructive testing, 3D measurements, and quality checks of products. These collaborative robots are mainly used to identify defective parts before they are packed or shipped. Thus, quality testing is the major application of collaborative robots in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), plastics & rubber, metals, and automotive industries.

Packaging:

Packaging companies are using cobots to overcome the challenges of contract-driven production, promotional packaging, and seasonal demand. With the deployment of collaborative robots, many manufacturers are gaining operational efficiency and improving their productivity.

Machine Tending:

Computer numerical control (CNC) machines are commonly used in any advanced machine shop. These machines required to be tended by manual workers to introduce raw parts as well as to remove the parts after programming. Due to the lack of qualified workforce all over the world, cobots are used to execute these tasks.

 Welding:

Welding is another major application of cobots. The automotive industry use cobots for metals welding that can be too repetitive, tiring, boring, and stressful for human labors. These cobots are used for reducing manufacturing time, minimizing weld distortion, lowering the cost of direct labor and safety measures, and attaining fast return on investment (ROI). Similarly, the metal and machinery sector is also a huge consumer of cobots for welding.

Assembly:

Assembly is more popular and important process in the automotive, electronics, and machinery industries. The assembly of products is one of the oldest forms of industrial production and go through a transformation in the era of industrial automation. Robots reduce the chances of errors and part damage that can be introduced while applying human workforce to perform assembly tasks. Collaborative robots are gaining traction in this industry, along with Cartesian robots. Improve process quality and speed while dipping the risk of injury-related with working close to heavy machinery has given rise to collaborative robots across these industries.

UNIQUE APPLICATIONS OF COBOTS:

Apart from the traditional use of cobots for industrial purpose, they are gradually gaining traction in some inimitable applications; these applications have been mentioned below:

Picking Plants:

King’s College London is conducting a project named “GROWBOT.” They are using a cobot arm to assist greenhouse workers in picking plants. This cobot assists unprofessional users work with cobots for repetitive tasks as well as help tackle the problems faced in terms of scarcity of seasonal labor.

Kitchen Assistance:

Miso Robotics’ Flippy is a cobot that is capable of working on a fryer or grill. This cobot is capable of working along with workers in a commercial kitchen.

Medical Industry:

The application of cobots is augmenting in the medical industry for helping doctors in assisting or conducting surgeries. The cobots meant for this application are highly specialized and are required to comply with stringent regulations.

Bartenders:

Royal Caribbean Cruises use cobots as bartenders on several of their ships. Further, several pubs and hotels around the world have been employing cobot-operated bartenders.

Author Bio:  

Anupriya is working as a Research Analyst in the Technology, Media and Telecommunications domain at The Insight Partners, a market research firm based in Pune. As a research analyst, she is responsible for performing an in-depth study regarding the concerned market and preparing ToC, writing the report, and data mining.

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