Collaborative Robots or Cobots are redefining automation, simplifying how small and mid-sized companies deploy service automation in the organisation. In this guide, we give you a 9-step process to get started with Cobots.
#1 Relevancy & Productivity
Cobots usually work at the same speed as humans. Unless there is a need to replace the existing human hands with automation, there is no need for Cobots. However, if the desire is to increase productive output 24×7, Cobots will be a useful option. Cobots work continuously, efficiently, and they are dependable for productive output.
This way, it is easier to remove the human hands from low-skill jobs and engage them in high-value activities. Assess the requirement of Cobots within the company first and then take subsequent actions. Employing Cobots involves teaching them about work pipelines and making them pay attention to payloads.
The number of Cobots required in the production system depends on its reach and payload. The Cobots are available in varied sizes. Analyse the production system process to determine the number of Cobots required.
Opt for deploying a family of Cobots rather than independent processes. They are ideal for an access space within 50 inches and carry around 20 pounds of weight. Do not forget to consider the weight of the end-of-arm tooling in the total payload. Multiple Cobots can work together in a synthesized manner to create a cohesive production line.
#3 Palletizing Capabilities
Cobots are ideal for picking and placing objects in designated space. There is a learning curve involved as the Cobots need to learn from where to pick up the objects and where to place them. Opt for Cobots with palletizing capabilities which consist of self-learning methods that helps the machine learn as they work on the floor.
A way to simplify the process is to designate separate space for the machines to work. For example, there can be a table of a specific size from where the robot has to pick up the objects every time and a specific place to store them. One can opt for installing vision sensors but it’s best avoided for now because handling objects with divergent properties is complex.
#4 Human Collaboration
Just as an organisation needs to consider the safety measures for the human workforce such as moving objects with sharp edges or using grinding wheels, it is necessary to consider the collaborative rapport between humans and the Cobots. It is necessary to adjudge the scope of collaboration between them as the Cobots must work side-by-side with the humans. As the Cobots are deployed, the human workforce can move towards overseeing the activities and letting the machines perform the manual and repetitive work.
Will the Cobots work independently or do they need to be integrated with other machines? What we mean to say is will the job of the Cobots be restricted to, let’s say, ringing the doorbell or would it also involve opening the door and shaking hands with whoever is on the other side.
The working process becomes complex when the Cobots must be integrated with other machines. It involves using digital I/O controllers or Ethernet-based communication options to minimize the complexity. As the integrations become complex, it becomes tough for the Cobots to perform the task. Stay consistent and simplify the process.
#6 End Effectors
Consider the accessories the Cobots need to accomplish a task. An end effector is a utilitarian tool attached to the robot arm for performing tasks. These end effectors could be a two-fingered gripper, a suction cup, paint sprayer, a spot welding tool or anything else necessary to carry out the task. Grippers and end effectors are widely available in the market. Either buy them off the shelf or create a custom one through specialized suppliers or using 3D printers.
#7 Workspace Localization
Cobots are usually mounted on a space and they continue to do the repetitive work 24×7. Sometimes the Cobots arms needs to be shifted to new areas. In that case, remember to localize the robot arm to the new workspace so that it is aware of the parts and machines required to perform the task. This can be done by storing the functional programs in the Cobots system and reloaded with the touch of a button.
Usually, the Cobots do not require additional safety measures or sensors as their built-in features adhere to the current safety requirements. In fact, if the robot arm collides with a human, it will simply shut down and not cause any harm to the person!
Cobots can perform in any environment; however, to add a measure of additional protection, buy protective covers off the shelf. The robot arms can be protected against extreme temperatures, debris, dust, grit, corrosive atmosphere and fluids.
#9 Future Updates
Cobots are lightweight and flexible robot arms. As the first of the Cobots family becomes functional, it’s not uncommon to feel the need to assess existing manual operations with a new perspective of automation. Keep exploring and improve business processes with collaborative robots.
Cobots have unveiled a new generation of industrial automation. The possibility to work in tandem with humans gives it an edge over overbearing machine processes.