Collaborative robot types: 12 ways cobots are used in 2024

January 7, 2024
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A brief refresher course on Cobots 

Cobots are making an impact on the manufacturing landscape by making automation accessible for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). 

Their main draw? They’re designed to safely work alongside humans and take over physical, mind-numbing labor. 

Plus, they offer a wealth of advantages over traditional Industrial robots - the type you typically see behind a cage. 

Cobots tend to be much easier to program and deploy. Most don’t require you to have an engineering degree to operate, and the newest ones even use novel, intuitive no-code frameworks. 

Many Cobots can be set up and operational in less than a day. This makes automation feasible for SMEs with limited resources and no programmers on hand. 

Cobots are also flexible and adaptable. In plain English, this means you can reprogram and repurpose them when you need to use them for a different job (provided you have the right grippers or end-effectors). 

Some Cobots that use AI and machine learning can even program themselves by observing and imitating human operators.

Safety is one of the main reasons to adopt Cobots. Their built-in safety mechanisms aim to prevent collisions and injuries. 

Cobots can “sense” when a human is close by and slow down or stop to avoid contact. This inherent safety allows Cobots and humans to work nearby without cages or barriers. 

Of course, we must emphasize that this method is not foolproof, and you should still exercise appropriate care around a Cobot.

Another important benefit is that Cobots have a lower average cost of adoption. They are often a fraction of the cost of traditional Industrial robots. 

For SMEs, investing in a Cobot may start from as low as a $2,000-8,000 investment. Of course, higher-end Cobots are much more expensive, sometimes even above $100,000, so your mileage may vary. 

How Cobots are reshaping manufacturing as a whole

Cobots are transforming assembly and manufacturing in exciting ways.

  • Pick and Place
  • Machine Tending
  • Palletizing
  • Material Handling
  • Assembly & Subassembly
  • Welding & Soldering
  • Inspection & Quality Control
  • Painting & Coating
  • Finishing & Polishing
  • Tool & Equipment Operation
  • Packaging & Label Application
  • Data Acquisition & Analysis

Their inherent flexibility and easy integration mean small batches and highly customized products are now much more possible than ever. 

Moreover, studies show Cobots can increase productivity by up to 30%. Their speed and precision lead to higher throughput and fewer errors, plus they work absolutely tirelessly.

In other words, Cobots take no breaks, or holidays, or get distracted because they’re scrolling on Instagram. 

Cobots in manufacturing

Since Cobots are excellent at achieving consistency, they excel at tasks requiring high accuracy like component insertion, soldering, and seam welding. They also reduce human error and fatigue, leading to higher-quality products. Iteration #43232 is just as good as the first. 

Since Cobots are far safer, they’re also able to interact with humans for manufacturing tasks. This enables a whole new spectrum of human/robot collaboration. While there’s a whole lot of doom and gloom about Cobots replacing humans, the synergy far exceeds the sum of its parts. 

As production needs change, Cobots can switch seamlessly between operations. This versatility allows manufacturers to respond rapidly to customer demands and ever-shifting market needs.

Cobots have become increasingly affordable, with some models starting as low as $2,000. Their ROI for manufacturing is as low as 1-3 years.

So, how does this affect your bottom line? By necessitating lower upfront costs, fewer modifications to your shop floor, interacting with your human employees, being easy to repurpose, and (some) requiring no specialized knowledge, there’s a low barrier to entry.

And, by increasing productivity and throughput so much, bringing them into your operation is a no-brainer.

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Cobots as logistics and warehousing aces

Cobots are a godsend when it comes to automating repetitive tasks in warehouses and logistics centers. 

They can be lightweight and compact, allowing them to navigate narrow aisles and work alongside humans - without needing their little fenced-off area. 

Here are some applications where they knock it out of the park.

Pick and Place

Cobots are great at Pick and Place applications like sorting, kitting, and palletizing. Their precise control and vision systems allow them to handle a wide range of payloads with high accuracy. 

So, Cobots can pick individual items from a conveyor belt or shelf and neatly place them into boxes, onto pallets, or at workstations. 

This speeds up the processing of incoming and outgoing goods while drastically reducing the possibility of errors.

Loading and unloading

Tiring, labor-intensive work like loading and unloading trucks and containers is exactly what Cobots are made for. 

They can lift and move payloads for long periods without stopping, they don’t throw out their backs, and they can do the same thing ad infinitum.

Cobots use sensors and vision to grab boxes, crates, or pallets and load them onto or remove them from transport vehicles. 

Overall, this leads to enormous efficiency improvements, reduces the strain on human workers, and basically ensures you get dependable, reliable results.

Inventory management

Cobots equipped with scanners and vision systems are ideal for inventory management. They can scan barcodes or RFID tags to locate and track goods in a warehouse

Cobots can also conduct regular counts to verify inventory levels and look for missing items. Their mobility and manipulation skills allow them to reach items at any location. 

As a result, automating inventory management with Cobots gives companies real-time visibility into their supply chain.

Cobots for quality inspection and testing

Cobots are eagle-eyed assistants who can help human workers with quality inspection and testing. 

Their precision, consistency, and objectivity are not to be underestimated for these critical manufacturing processes.

Here’s why they’re so great for the job:  

Every single time, all day, every day: Cobots can perform the exact same quality check, the exact same way, every single time. 

They don’t tune out, get tired, or get cataracts. Overall, this helps you ensure consistent quality standards throughout.

They can get down to the micron level: Cobots have sensors that can detect the tiniest imperfections or defects in materials, components, or finished products that human inspectors might miss - even those renowned for their 20/20 vision.

Things like microfractures, blink-and-you-miss-them leaks, or barely-there surface scratches are no match for a Cobot’s sensors. 

This helps virtually guarantee only the highest quality products make it out of the factory.

Just the facts, ma’am: Cobots have no emotions, opinions, or preconceptions. They evaluate items based solely on measurable data and quality criteria. 

This impartiality leads to fair, unbiased assessments not influenced by personal feelings or experiences. 

All reports and alerts are purely fact-based - if a product fails an inspection, there is an objective, data-supported reason why.

Faster testing and reporting: Cobots can move rapidly between inspection stations, test samples at a quicker pace, and generate reports instantly through a digital interface. This accelerated speed allows manufacturers to evaluate a higher volume of products in less time. Issues are also flagged right away so corrections can be made promptly, minimizing potential waste or customer impact.

Summing up

If you’re in the manufacturing industry, keeping your eye on the types of Collaborative robots is a smart choice, because you can’t afford to let these robo-partners slip your awareness.

Manufacturing is not changing, it has already changed, and now, it’s just a matter of deciding how and when to implement the changes your business needs to thrive in this era of automation. 

More than ever, the relative affordability of Cobots means small and large companies alike can benefit from their much-needed help. The long-term gains in productivity, efficiency, and safety make them worth every penny and speak for themselves. 

Next steps

Shopping around and feeling lost after reading up on all of the Collaborative robot types? Wondering about the best automation choice for your business? Time to meet RO1 from Standard Bots—the #1 Cobot for both burgeoning startups and established industrial giants.

  • Affordable and reliable: RO1 leads its class of robotic arms, delivering unparalleled value at half the cost of its nearest competition.
  • Swift & robust: Despite sporting a best-in-class payload of 18 kg, RO1 outpaces rivals in both speed and precision.
  • Built-in safety: Equipped with safety sensors and collision detection, RO1 ensures secure and dependable operations right on your shop floor.

Get in touch with our solutions team today to initiate a complimentary, 30-day onsite trial and receive tailored guidance for a seamless RO1 deployment.

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