Joe Campbell of Universal Robots did a recent webinar on How Machine Shops Can Leverage Cobots in the COVID-19 Age. Here were some highlights:
First reviewed were the overall collaborative robot basics.
- Safe to operate alongside humans
- Fast set up
- Flexible and versatile
- System cost 1/3 to 1/2 of traditional automation
Then he discussed the benefits of cobots.
- Machine Utilization
- Manufacturing labor
Cobots are reaching new classes of customers including those new to automation, the companies with no robot engineers, and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Here were two case studies among others that were shared:
A company had a 30% increase in business with the explosion of online ordering. Their traditional approach would have been to hire temporary help. But they also were concerned about more people on their floor which increases the COVID risk, and being able to keep them all social distanced.
The solution was cobots! This enabled fewer people in the shop while still increasing productivity. They added a lights out 3rd shift. The staff also felt more comfortable going to work.
A second example was one of Fusion’s clients.
CNC operators at this company were doing setup and load/unload operations reducing their efficiencies. Machine utilization was limited because the CNC operators were required for every part of the production runs.
The cobot solution provided additional lights out production hours to complete jobs in the 2nd shift. A new operations model was also instilled. Single skilled CNC operators will do setups with cobots doing the load/unload functions. Additional capacity supports increased sales as well.
Overall COVID has been a catalyst of change within the last 6 months. There has been a focus on flexibility, filling the skilled labor gaps as needs for production increase with online ordering, and continued growth of automation is SME’s.