Cobots, or collaborative robots, represent the last frontier of robotics in the manufacturing industry. The simultaneous manufacture of different products has in fact required the creation of increasingly flexible robots, capable of adapting to modern assembly lines.
Cobots make use of artificial vision and advanced sensors, founding elements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, more easily known as Industry 4.0.
The structure of the cobot
It is therefore a new type of increasingly smart machine tools, which exploit machine learning technologies. Cobots are equipped with a control system based on sophisticated microcontrollers and microprocessors, software and sensors.
They normally have the shape of a robotic arm, have a base and a set of segments joined by motorized joints (the axes). Finally, they have a head, placed on the last segment, which allows the assembly of different types of tools.
The difference with industrial robots
Thus described, the cobot can resemble a shrunken industrial robotic arm. But we must not fall into error. The mechanics and electronics of the cobot are in fact very different, since these machines are designed to work alongside or in collaboration with humans.
This operation is favored by the use of sensors that are able to understand the position and activity of the operators. Consequently, the collaborative robot adapts speed and traction force on the axes in order not to constitute a danger.
The service to SMEs
As anticipated, cobots are suitable for articulated and variable production contexts. This is why they are particularly suitable for small and medium-sized enterprises, where there is a continuous readjustment of manufacturing processes.
The advantages represented by cobots for SMEs are mainly two: the cost, which is extremely low compared to industrial robots, and the user interface. Collaborative robots are in fact equipped with very intuitive and user-friendly software applications for programming and control.
It is also possible and easy to train the cobot to recognize objects, colors, shapes and even voice commands.
The applications of cobots
Collaborative robots perform pick & place operations, pallet boxing and packaging, product handling for quality control and, more generally, applications involving machine tending, welding, material removal and collaborative assembly.
The partnership with 3D printing
The ability to combine collaborative robotics and 3D printing, aimed at the manufacture of EOAT accessories, marks an incredible advantage for SMEs. 3D modeling and additive manufacturing allow the creation of new tools capable of responding positively to new production cycles, underlining the flexibility of the cobots.
And collaborative robots are not “enemies” of workers. In fact, the introduction of collaborative robotics does not weigh on the workplace, on the contrary it stimulates a reorganization of production processes which is synonymous with business growth and increased hiring.
Source: Agenda Digitale