Overview of cobots
Collaborative robots (cobots) differ on variables such as weight, payload, reach and accuracy. These set the condition for what tasks a cobot can perform, thus affecting which one is best suited for your environment. However, they all have one thing in common: they shine in their ability to perform repetitive tasks, and with Aivero Do, this is scalable across units and locations.
We made this page to give an overview of the different cobots available in the market from producers such as Universal Robots, ABB and UFACTORY. These represent a selected few from a long list, which is why we made a page to support you in finding the best cobot fit for your business.
What is a cobot?
A cobot can work alongside humans without any physical separation, allowing for direct human-robot interaction. Regulated by ISO/TS 15066 where its stated objective is to “combine the repetitive performance of robots with the individual skills and ability of people”. Thus, making it a co-worker to support and relieve its human operators by assisting in daily tasks. This is obtained through force detection, speed and payload capacity limitations, ensuring that the cobot can detect abnormalities in the work environment and react accordingly without opposing a threat. Now, how does this compare to industrial robots?
Cobot vs Robot
Industrial robots are expensive, and for some businesses it’s worth the investment in the long run. According to RobotWorx, industrial robots typically range between $50.000-$80.000. This is the price tag before any application-specific component. Applying these could set you back by up to an additional $70.000. Cobots, however, are offered at a lower price, averaging $24.000 with an estimated ROI within 12 months. We admit that comparing the two can be misleading since industrial robots and cobots are tools made for entirely different tasks. Even so, there is still an important point to be made: they both automate different types and stages of processes!
Industrial robots usually repeat the same task for years because, unlike cobots, they can’t be easily installed, moved around, and programmed to handle variability without highly specialized personnel. In fact, the deployment of an industrial robot may take up to several weeks. Conversely, cobots are flexible because they are designed for human interaction, allowing them to alternate between processes.
Safety is another aspect of robotics that represents a tradeoff when comparing industrial robots to cobots. Because industrial robots are enclosed, they operate with high speed and force, making them excellent at repeating tasks when variability is low. On the other hand, cobots emulate humans in how they interact with the work environment – they sense and adapt! This way, they are more of an assistant rather than a replacement for human workers.
Benefits and opportunities of cobots
According to ABIresearch, by 2030, cobot sales will increase as a share of total robot sales from 5 to 29 % (CAGR 29%) – expecting cobots to become mainstream over the next 10 years. Since machine vision is a crucial driver in this development, Aivero will make cobots learn faster across units and locations. As a result, we give cobots the ability to free capacity at scale, meaning that human workers can spend time on tasks that require creativity and critical thinking.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology emphasizes that cobots working alongside can improve accuracy, flexibility and speed. In these terms, it’s easy to see how your daily tasks can benefit from adopting cobots into your work environment, thereby improving the efficiency of operations. In addition, the areas in which human-cobot teams work together are ever-increasing due to the continuous development made by producers and third-party suppliers. Still, reimagining your business and depicting the specific areas the cobots may apply can be challenging.
Aivero’s cobot doing pick and place operations
Imagine having a co-worker that never tires, gets bored or harmed from repetitive tasks, and does so with the required level of precision every time. In fact, this describes the capabilities of cobots, and alongside humans, they assist by relieving them of strenuous tasks. But, made to collaborate in close proximity, they’re not a replacement reflected by an intuitive interface and ability to respond to a changing environment.
Suppose that areas of your current operation consist of picking, placing and packing items or simple assembly of parts and quality control. In that case, chances are a cobot will benefit you greatly. For instance, e-commerce is currently experiencing fast growth and high adoption rates of cobots. Because customers expect rapid fulfilment and an overwhelming increase in orders fueled by the pandemic, this is an area sensitive to longer lead time. We can’t predict the future, but we can expect consumer behaviour patterns to be forever changed — this understanding is critical to any business!
Simultaneously, cobots continue to get cheaper every year in parallel to their use cases expanding. Therefore, chances are that principles from e-commerce may spill over into other warehouse settings in the not so distant future.