Cobots and the Changing “Face” of American Manufacturing

Robots have been an important part of manufacturing on a global basis for nearly 50 years.  Perhaps most widely recognized for their place in automobile production, robots have been used to improve efficiency, quality and safety.  Historically, traditional production robotics has been out of reach for mid- and small-market manufacturers due to their cost, scale and specific capability limitations.  However, as the global economy has changed due to the reach of e-commerce and its enablement of these small and middle-market firms, interest in manufacturing improvements has grown, and this in turn has ignited the “cobot” movement. So what is a “cobot” and how does it compare to a traditional full scale production robot? 

A collaborative robot or “Cobot” is a smaller scale automation tool designed to work side-by-side with human operators.  Unlike full scale production robots that move at speeds and with mass that pose risks for humans, the cobot incorporates force sensing and movement speed limitations that reduce or completely eliminate risk.  Because of these safety features, cobots can operate without expensive safety fencing or barriers, reducing floor space requirements and cost of startup.  This reduced cost and floor space efficiency put cobots right in the “sweet spot” of manufacturers who have repetitive or mundane tasks currently handled by humans.  Examples of these include machine parts loading and unloading, finished product packing and carton palletizing.

While largely user friendly to deploy, getting started with cobots can be made that much easier and quicker with an experienced integration partner.  Fusion offers these services—contact us to learn more!

Topics: cnc machining, process improvement, contract manufacturing, Cobots