A cobot is a robot designed to work alongside humans either as a guide or in an assistive capacity. There are numerous use cases where the ability to work alongside humans comes in handy, mainly in operations that can’t be fully automated.
Unlike an automated robot that works independently, a cobot is designed and programmed to respond to human actions and instructions.
There have been many challenges in making it safe for robots to work alongside humans because traditional robots could not do this. But with the entry of cobots, the robot market is at a tipping point whereby the challenges aren’t too many.
Can the market expect a coming together of cobots and traditional robots? Perhaps in some use cases because traditional robots are evolving too. That said, let’s look at the features cobots have over traditional robots and some of their benefits.
Features Cobots Have Over Traditional Industrial Robots
Traditional robots are not built to collaborate with human operators. There are designed to execute specific programmed tasks without a need for collaboration.
What’s more, traditional robots aren’t built with human safety as a priority, albeit the market is evolving. Their design mainly focuses on task implementation, where they are deployed, safety measures such as cages or fences are in place to protect manual operators.
Cobot is short for collaborative robots and as the name suggests, these machines are designed to work alongside humans. They have numerous in-built safety features to protect manual operators. Cobots can be found in a workplace setting, hovering and rotating around manual operators executing other tasks without harming them.
Ease Of Operation
A cobot is more straightforward to operate than most traditional robots. This is made possible by the sensors incorporated in cobots, giving them location and movement awareness.
Traditional robots, on the other hand, are very complex to operate. Manual operators need to undergo intensive training to handle them. Therefore, they can’t be controlled by just about anyone, and the operators must maintain a distance from them.
In-Built Smart Sensors
A cobot is smarter than a traditional robot, but this doesn’t mean that the former is more complicated to operate than the latter. It implies that cobots have in-built smart sensors that communicate with IoT systems such as warehouse management systems.
What’s the importance of smart sensors? Intelligent sensors help the robot safely help human operators run errands in the workplace. Also, these sensors are aware of their surroundings, namely context, humans, and location.
Generally, cobots are much more lightweight compared to industrial robots, albeit depending on the type. This makes it easy to move them around in a workplace.
The mobility of cobots mainly has to do with the tasks these robots perform and the safe collaboration aspect with human operators, which isn’t the same as traditional robots.
Light machines in a manufacturing setting are essential because the machine can move to different areas and perform the same tasks. Also, mobility allows collaborative robots to be repurposed for functions other than processing, such as packaging and palletizing.
Cobots are not only lighter than traditional robots; they are lighter than all other types of robots, albeit this is subject to the collaborative robot’s manufacturer.
What Are the Benefits Of Cobots Over Traditional Industrial Robots?
A cobot is more or less like a subordinate to help manual operators navigate complex and sensitive tasks. Therefore, they are skilful enough to lift items and hand them to human operators, which doesn’t apply to traditional robots.
A good example is a vehicle assembly line where one collaborative robot assembles the braking system while the other one lowers the engine into place under the watchful eye of a manual operator. This collaboration helps improve accuracy and quality.
Allows For The Allocation Of Manpower To Core Tasks
In a workplace, collaborative robots can be assigned heavy tasks that human operators can’t do. This helps shift them to core tasks that require human intelligence, which helps add value to the business and reduce production time.
The versatility of collaborative robots means that they aren’t confined to a single task; unlike traditional industrial robots, they can be deployed in numerous tasks, which makes them more profitable and saves businesses cash because they don’t need to buy several machines.
Moreover, unlike traditional robots, cobots don’t need to be caged to protect manual operators; they have in-built safety measures such as sensors and visual systems that make them stop when they detect manual operators. Cobots help save cash that would be spent on cages which aren’t cheap considering they need to be installed in the entire workspace.
Businesses that have traditional industrial robots have no flexibility whatsoever. A conventional industrial robot can only execute the tasks it was built for. This inflexibility might be okay for large businesses with more complex operations and the financial might to buy several machines, but it’s not suitable for most companies.
This is where collaborative robots come in because they can be reprogrammed and fitted with a wide range of end-of-arm tooling such as chain saws, drill bits, grippers, etc. This means that one collaborative robot can perform numerous tasks in a workplace. As a result, businesses are able to automate not just one but virtually all their operations.
Lower Upfront Costs
One of the most significant benefits of collaborative robots over traditional industrial robots is lower upfront costs. For companies looking to get value for money, it’s easier to justify the acquisition of a collaborative robot over a traditional industrial robot.
Not only do collaborative robots have lower upfront costs, but the cost of operation, including power usage and maintenance, is also lower than that of traditional robots. As a result, cobots can typically achieve ROI (return on investment) in under 12 months.
To sum it all up, if you’re looking for a compact size, flexible and inexpensive robot, it’s clear that a cobot is an ideal choice. Unlike a traditional robot, a collaborative robot can execute different tasks such as assembly, processing, machine tending, and palletizing.