Businesses understand that automation is the future of manufacturing. They understand that robotics can create safer and more efficient working environments. They also understand that how it’s introduced is by no means clear-cut.

There is a range of technological options to choose from and selecting which is likely to make the greatest difference is key to the degree of impact automation is likely to have. Those companies who are able to maximise automation to speed up their processes and reduce the time spent on routine tasks will gain a competitive advantage.

One of the means through which automation will be achieved is through the use of cobots.

What are they, and how do they differ from robots?

What are cobots?

Cobots are collaborative robots that are capable of working closely with humans to complete a range of tasks. They act to enhance human abilities in a safe way. Collaborative robots are capable of monitoring the environment and co-existing with humans without impacting performance or overall safety.

How are cobots different from robots?

Industrial robots have been used for decades in manufacturing. They have grown more complex and capable over the years as they have incorporated technological innovations. They have been primarily designed for high-volume, high-speed production that requires extremely high accuracy.

Because of their size and the speed with which they work, industrial robots can present a safety risk to any human workers in their vicinity. This means that they will usually be fitted with a range of safety measures such as a cage to ensure humans stay out of the robot’s working space.

Having to integrate the robot and safety caging has the result of driving costs upwards substantially. Professional services are also sometimes needed in order to program the robots and to ensure that they are effectively integrated with other production equipment and machines.

Cobots work in similar ways to industrial robots, but crucially they are usually smaller and lighter. This not only makes them easier to deploy but also means they can be used near humans, often without the need for any safety fencing or other segregation methods.

Cobots will usually incorporate built-in force control and sensors. This means that they can be relied upon to either slow or stop automatically when a human approaches beyond the boundaries of the collaboration.

The flexibility of their design means that they can be used in a wider range of sectors than industrial robots and can carry out a broader range of tasks. If a company is looking to get started with industrial automation, cobots are an easier and more flexible option. Cobots are also light enough to be attached to a table and staff can be trained in how to reprogram them.

A lightweight cobot cannot compete with an industrial robot in terms of its workload and speed, but they are much more versatile. This makes them a better fit for a much broader range of settings. They are also highly adapted for education and robotics training and carry less risk of injury.

To find out how cobots, such as an Indeva PalFlex, can revolutionise how you work contact Indeva today.