Is Human and Robot Collaboration the Future of Manufacturing?
Published by : Industrial Automation
Increased automation in facilities is optimizing productivity in manufacturing. While some people fear robots will ultimately replace the human workforce, producers disagree, as they know the value of the machine and humans towards the results of both machine efficiency and human intuition for optimum productivity.
Benefits of Collaborative Robots
Collaborative robots or cobots are specifically designed to work in direct cooperation with humans in a defined workstation. There are also collaborative workstations that are protected spaces where the human and robot can perform tasks concurrently.
There are multiple factors why commercialized cobots like Sawyer are becoming more prevalent in facilities. Considering the benefits of cobots, they are highly adaptable, affordable, and easy to incorporate. Small and medium-sized companies are primarily aiming to adopt the combination of technology, and the global manufacturing sector expects to see the massive growth of cobots in the coming years.
Cobots are also primarily supported by human workers. In general, robots can perform heavy lifting and repetitive tasks for the proprietor that can cause social strain. Therefore, this combination of work provides extra time for human workers to complete more creative and intricate tasks in the manufacturing site.
Safety through Collaborative Robots
Producers are primarily aiming to enhance the safety standards through the benefit from the combination of human and machine interaction, as cobots can execute the cumbersome task by itself to minimize the risk of human injuries. Also, this reduces the halt time in the manufacturing facility, which results in optimum productivity. Moreover, the manufacturing of these robots is round in shape and manufactured with soft materials to reduce the risk of injury if a human is closely working with robotic technology. They are also installed with sensors that sense anything entering their proximity and have force-limited joints that will rapidly stop if a human gets too close to it.
These safety features are essential in preventing injury, but there are other factors that producer’s necessity consider. Regulations, like ISO 10218-2:2011, control how facilities integrate robotics into the assembly line of the manufacturing facility to ensure the safety of all human workers. As part of this regulation, all producers that use cobots will be required to implement safety protocols on the worksite. However, the end-use requirements ultimately determine the safety requirements, rather than the robot. For instance, if the robot has sharp knives attached to it, producers avoided the human-machine interaction.
The Future of Collaborative Robots
Considering the current development in the cobots, there are broad advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence technology that could increase the capabilities of cobots and makes it more intelligent. Besides, the If intelligent cobots have extensive powers to execute more challenging tasks and recollect previous work task to help them in the future scenarios across the site. The integration of machine learning technology may also enhance the cobots self-diagnose capability and can fix any technical issues to complete work efficiently.
Cobots have high growth potential to change the manufacturing sector drastically. However, there are still faults in the skills of a robot that not make it perfect. A robot may perform monotonous tasks with the complete and highest accuracy, but it is not as agile as a human. Cobots lack skill and, therefore, cannot execute more complicated responsibilities that humans can.
In conclusion, cobots are primarily designed to provide safety to the workers and the overall workstation. Plant operators must combine the machine strength and precision of robots like Sawyer with the human ability to see, think, and adapt to make the perfect manufacturing plant. Therefore, it is estimated to witness high growth in the manufacturing of robots that are specified for the collaboration with the human workers to provide optimum efficiency and productivity to the manufacturing plants.