Automation is only for complex, large scale operations
If you’re a small or mid-sized manufacturer or are facing challenges of low-volume, high-mix production, you may be wondering if cobots are right for you. Cobots can be used for processes that are repetitive, manual, strenuous or dangerous for workers, regardless of your output size.
Consider these possible business challenges presented by Universal Robots’ “Are you too small to automate?” whitepaper and see if any of these apply to you…
- Competition is stiff and I need new ways to cut costs
- I need to improve product quality
- I need to reduce waste, in time, materials, or both
- I need more flexibility to adapt to changing product demand
- I’m struggling to fill positions for repetitive manual jobs
- Temporary workers aren’t reliable or take too much time to learn our processes
- Repetitive or dangerous processes are impacting my workers’ health and safety
- I need to grow my business without overextending
- I want to have the latest technology in place to attract millennials to my company
Require safety cages and are immobile
Cobots, or collaborative robots are lightweight, easy to move, and most do not require cages. They also have safety sensors, cameras or light curtains to sense when a human moves safely out of range and restarts the robot. Cobots are the most mobile, significantly more lightweight than traditional robots, and are able to easily be transferred around the shop floor, and reprogrammed for different applications.
Cobots are taking jobs away
It’s just not true. There is an enormous skills gap currently from retiring baby boomers that are leaving millions of unfilled manufacturing jobs. Cobots can help fill that skills gap where a company cannot find employees. They can help replace human workers in high-turnover, hard to fill positions. Cobots also allow your machinists to do more cerebral tasks on the machine floor. No machine can replace the critical thinking, decision-making and creativity of humans. Further, an increase in productivity from cobot integration can prompt additional hiring. Robots in general, will actually create an entire new set of jobs as the technology continues to grow. Further, robots are making companies more competitive in the US. Automation is keeping jobs here, or bringing jobs back to the states.
One of Fusion’s customers, Tom Richardson, spoke to Fox News when they were broadcasting at Fusion in October, about the myth that robots take jobs. “It works in reverse. You have better, higher skilled people. It gives them a lot more purpose and they see the earning potential. Instead of mundane tasks, they learn to program these types of robots. So their job level really goes up. We run ours [cobot] 11 hours a day. It never gets tired; never complains.”
Cobots are expensive
Cobots cost about 20% of what traditional robots cost, with an average ROI of 8-12 months. When you factor in lights-out productivity and not having to pay for the additional costs that come with an employee, you may be surprised how affordable a cobot actually is.
Getting started with cobots is difficult
It doesn’t have to be, and you don’t have to take work time away from your staff while they learn how to set up your robot. Reaching out to a systems integrator such as Fusion allows you to meet with an experienced partner who will handle the entire process for you. We will go to your facility, evaluate your needs, do a site evaluation, create drawings, write up a proposal, order the machines, do the delivery and installation and a one-day training with your staff. All that is left for you to do is try out your new equipment!