We live in an increasingly automated world. With automation, people are able to do tasks more quickly and easily. In the manufacturing industry, the use of automation systems has become ubiquitous to streamline not just the quality of the outputs but more importantly to promote the safety of the employees.
But technology does not come without some serious drawbacks. As the manufacturing industry has developed more interest in robotics, many have become skeptical as to what extent humans would allow robots to take over their place.
On top of this, there are also concerns about the safety of these robots which are highlighted by accidents involving humans crushed to death by robots. In light of this, manufacturing industries are looking at cobots as better alternatives to pair with humans to increase productivity in the workplace.
What are Cobots?
Chances are, you’ve already heard about robots, but what about Cobots? Cobots or collaborative robots are designed to work side by side humans.
Cobots can be humans’ significant allies in manufacturing and assembly fields, healthcare, domestic work, and logistics. Cobots support human operators and aid them in case the labor involved becomes too difficult for humans to handle. This is as opposed to the robots which are primarily developed to work independently or with lesser supervision from humans.
Cobots and Robots: What are their Key Differences?
Although both cobots and robots are developed with one factor in mind – automation – they have key characteristics that set them apart, and they are as follows:
- Robots tend to do work in place of humans, whereas, cobots are intended to work safely alongside with humans in a shared workplace.
- Robots are used to automate the manufacturing process ‘entirely’ while cobots are developed primarily to ‘assist’ humans in the manufacturing process.
- Unlike industrial robots, cobots can be easily integrated and are easier to program since they have the ability to learn while on the job.
Robots are far more complex and are usually much heavier and bulkier compared to cobots. There are also a number of instances wherein robots are dangerous enough when placed in the same space as humans.
As such, when sharing space with humans, robots are usually shielded using large screens. On the other hand, cobots are usually denser and lighter, so they can easily be used by humans without safety cells. It is important to note, however, that risk assessments should always be considered when working with automated systems, be it a robot or cobot, to ensure safety in the workplace.
Bolstering Productivity through Technology Collaboration
While robots tend to dominate the entire workflow process, cobots are made to work together with humans. They are designed to be flexible and can be helpful as a tool for humans to use in the workplace. Deploying cobots in the workplace can help reduce the burdens in humans particularly in lifting heavy weights and doing more laborious tasks. Cobots also help in boosting productivity and promoting safety in the work environment.
Many experts in the manufacturing industry believe that cobots offer a significant advantage compared to robots when it comes to compactness, cost-effectiveness, flexibility, lower maintenance requirements, safety, and accuracy.