The Cobots are Coming
We’re working hard on preparing for our latest advancement: a collaborative robot. This “Cobot” will be used for at least one new project in our shop, but has potential to be used for many other existing applications. As you may have read, we have been using robotics at Staub for almost two decades. We aren’t pioneers in robotics, we just look for ways to make projects and jobs as efficient as possible.
The project that we are undertaking involves using a cobot to unload parts from a turning center. We’ve purchased the robot, designed a process and system, and even prototyped a vacuum powered parts gripper with the help of our Additive department (see below). We’re just waiting on delivery to add this new technology to our arsenal of automated equipment… is it here yet??
We use robots to supplement our workforce. We look for mundane, highly repetitive tasks and try to automate them. We want our staff working on solving problems and intricate tasks, not unloading parts from a machine. In our manufacturing environment, robotic unloading is often a great way to gain efficiency. We can have robots unloading machines long after our last employees have gone home to eat dinner with their families.
Cobots are robots that can share space with people.
These robots require no guarding at all. Universal Robots, the brand that we’ve chosen for this project, installs force sensors that slow and stop the robotic arm when it meets resistance. There is some sacrifice in speed of movement, but the reduced footprint size is a huge benefit.
Cobots are easy to program.
When setting up a movement path for a collaborative robot we will not need to program the robot’s movements. We can “teach” the robot how we want it to move by using a pretty simple control system and by physically moving the robot arm where we want it to go. Traditional robots, like the articulated arm robots that we have, must be programmed by talented experts who have a deep understanding of robotics and motion control.
Cobots are flexible.
Because collaborative robots do not require guarding they can easily be moved between applications. Fixed robots are dedicated to a specific task, or group of very similar tasks. Cobots can be moved easily from application to application anywhere in our facility. New applications for our incoming cobot are easy to setup because we will be able to easily program them ourselves.
While we have no experience with cobots at this time, we’re confident that this technology will be a great help to us. We’ve got strong partners at Buffalo Manufacturing Works who have helped us learn about the technology, and who will be there to support us as this project is implemented. Look for an update soon on how we’re adopting this exciting new manufacturing technology.
If you’d like to learn more about cobots and see them up close and personal, Buffalo Manufacturing Works is hosting a Collaborative Robot Seminar and Demo next month.