Cobots - Integration of industrial collaborative robots

Industrial collaborative robots or Cobots are advancing considerably to be more integrated into the industrial sector. They are easily programmable and automatically perform tasks. They can be positioned close to the operators thanks to effective security systems. Collaborative robots are designed to work with humans, unlike conventional industrial robots, which work for humans.


What are industrial collaborative robots or cobots?


Industrial collaborative robots have a programable learning mode consisting of carrying out, without code, a trajectory by manipulating only the robotic arm. Collaborative robots can be approached safely, and they do not require a safety cage. Physical interaction between the robot and the operator is thus possible, unlike the classic industrial robot which must remain in a cage for safety reasons.

Cobots have security features that are invisible compared to traditional industrial robots. To ensure the safety of people in the vicinity, their immediate stop is scheduled in the event of danger. It is an accessible and intuitive programming that facilitates the movement of robots on different applications depending the requirements.

The cobots are simpler, more flexible, intuitive and adapt perfectly to the workspace and requirements of those who use them.


Particularity of Collaborative Industrial Robots


Most industrial robots are still autonomous, large, expensive and must be installed in a way that ensures the safety of the operators. Although they have played an important role in the automotive industry, they are less commonly used in other vertical industries. Indeed, their weight, their large size and their complex programming make them less attractive to some industrial sectors.

As for industrial collaborative robots, they are more present in different industries: supply chain management, manufacturing and healthcare. There are different types of industrial collaborative robots: remotely operated cobots, cobots driven by an operator in close proximity, and exoskeletons, which are extensions of the human body.

Collaborative robots can work without physical protection. They are programmed to constantly calculate the risk of impact or collision with humans. Their speed (and therefore kinetic energy) can be reduced in the case of unexpected contact, which limits the consequences on the operators who are next to them.

Their positioning close to the operators, thanks to the safety system, reduces the drudgery of their work and improves productivity. Cobots contribute to the optimization of human capabilities by taking on tasks with greater strength, precision and data handling skills.


Essential parameters for the integration of an industrial cobot


Before automating an application, the following parameters must be considered:

  • Interfacing with third-party machines. To interact with other technologies, cobots need the installation of additional communication lines.
  • Station supply. It is essential to know: how the parts arrive, the need for (re)layout of the station, the movement of a machine or line, the type of surface etc.
  • Parts way out. It is necessary to determine how the parts must start up in order to continue the production chain already in place, the need for any adjustments, the change of another machine to optimize the cycle time, etc.
  • Right tool creation. It is necessary to determine if the cobot must grip the pieces, if the material of the latter is alive or if they are fragile.

The consideration of these different elements simplifies the integration of a cobot.


The interest of integrating industrial collaborative robots


The integration of robotization into production processes allows manufacturers to remain competitive and optimize their productivity. It is also an innovative solution that promotes flexibility and versatility of these processes and opting for a productive distribution of tasks between robots and operators.

The integration of industrial collaborative robots also allows better management of absenteeism and the shortage of labor. It is also an accessible solution for companies wishing to optimize their cost structure.


Cobots are regulated


Industrial collaborative robots are subject to identical rules of traditional industrial robots:

  • ISO / TS 15066: a specification that defines allowing a human to directly work with the robot.
  • EN ISO 10218-1 and EN ISO 10218-2: safety rules that define the recommendations and requirements for intrinsic prevention, and information on industrial robot use and protective measures.


Future Trends In Cobotics


Mobile cobots are part of the new trend in industrial robotics. Whether platform-based or autonomous, mobile collaborative robots are more flexible. Thanks to a laser guidance system, mobile cobots navigate with ease through a factory without the need for magnets or floor markings. They offer the same safety as static cobots and can work perfectly with humans.

For the industry of the future, cobots integrate and operate with artificial intelligence. Today, it is necessary to program a cobot to teach it a task. Thanks to artificial intelligence, the cobot will be able to reproduce the task and even improve it as it performs it. It will only need to be taught basic functionality. Some manufacturers are also working on a language feature to enable a dialogue between the human and the industrial collaborative robot.

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