Collaborative robots are fairly new in the robotics industry, but already, there exist several variations. Their popularity in different industries has elicited rapid innovation from various quarters. This innovation has resulted in four different variations of the robots.
The different collaborative robot types stand out for their programming and safety features. Each type of robot uses unique technologies and techniques to keep a safe operating distance from humans, which defines the environment each is suitable for.
Power and Force Limiting Robots
Power and force limiting robots or cobots (collaborative robots) interact directly with human workers without needing any extra safety barriers, external scanners, or vision systems. To improve human safety, these cobots have no sharp corners, pinch points, or exposed motors that can injure people.
For these powers and limiting cobots to work safely with humans, the cobots are equipped with in-built collision sensors. These sensors allow the robot to sense any potential collisions and come to a complete standstill should it come into contact with a human. These cobots are limited to smaller tasks or applications.
Safety Monitored Stop
Safety Monitored Stop Cobots are used for tasks with very little human to robot interaction. This type of cobot uses a conventional industrial robot fitted with different safety sensors that detect a human entering into its work envelope. Once the robot detects a person, the cobot stops its operations and allows the human to work by its side. Once the human has finished their task, the cobot can be re-started by pushing a button.
Speed and Separation
Speed and separation cobots are similar to the safety monitored stop collaborative robots.. These cobots use conventional industrial robots, but the difference is that speed and separation cobots are suited for tasks with frequent human interaction. These cobots use vision systems for monitoring their workspace.
The speed and separation workspace has two different zones- the warning and stop zones. When a human enters the stop zone, the cobot grinds to a halt and starts working as soon as the person exits the area.
Hand guiding is a feature whereby an operator can program the cobot to learn new positions and paths by guiding it using a hand-operated controller. This feature allows humans to program the cobots with ease and causes very little to no downtime.
Advantages of Cobots
Collaborative robots have many advantages such as:
Easy to Program
Traditional robots needed a great deal of skill and knowledge to the program and could perform one action. A cobot, unlike a conventional robot, is easy to program. By using easy-to-use software, a cobot can easily learn new paths. You can manually program a cobot to your desired positions and store them on the software. The cobot can be programmed to perform various tasks and can easily be moved from place to place.
A robot is more accurate than a human being. The robot can perform precise movements and never deviate from the program. This precision improves product uniformity and quality. If tightening bolts, the same pressure is used uniformly across all bolts.
Positive Effect on Human Workers
A cobot is meant for working alongside humans, not to replace them. Since cobots are people-focused, they help in refining and complementing the work humans do. Monotonous, dirty, repetitive, and dangerous jobs are assigned to robots, leaving humans to do more administrative or cognitive tasks.
The main aim of robotics is optimization or achieving the most with the least cost. There are minimal errors and productivity increases. Setting up a cobot is a sizeable investment. With the increase in production, it is easy to achieve a faster ROI and investment recouped.
Robots have become commonplace in manufacturing industries. With the increased output and consistency in production, it is easy to make more profits and get a faster Return on Investment. The human workers’ health and risk of injury are reduced, making them happier and more productive in the long run.