Cobots Help Manufacturers Succeed In Light of the Pandemic

The manufacturing industry has been hit especially hard by the pandemic. There’s the obvious impact of potentially sick workers, along with the need for social distancing and strict health requirements. Then there are supply chain issues, many of which mean component or material shortages. Finally, consumer demands have not fallen. Instead, they’ve done the opposite, exploding to unprecedented levels.

Manufacturers have had to pick up the pace, with fewer resources, while hemorrhaging staff due to the current pandemic.

Cobots help alleviate the problem by taking over the gaps in manual labor and boosting productivity to levels never seen before.

The Art of Collaborative Automation: Cobots

Automation and robotics have been around a lot longer. The technology is synonymous with the auto manufacturing industry, where many of the devices first appeared and still play a critical role today. However, most of the classic robots are only capable of handling repetitive tasks with little variation.

Cobots are much different. They are designed to take on complex work-like picking packages in a warehouse, making adjustments on the production line, adding fine-tuned welds, or other tasks. They also work alongside people. More importantly, they aid workers by enhancing their skills and abilities, improving output.

For example, one automated arm might tighten bolts after its human counterpart slides the screws in place. Another might lift heavy supplies or packages and carry them to where they’re needed.

The beauty of cobots and today’s advanced automation machines is that they can be programmed and customized to do nearly anything. They’re often powered by machine learning platforms, a subset of artificial intelligence that relies on vast and intense data analytics.

Dealing with a Pandemic the Machine Way

This could also mean a reduction in staff because there’s simply less room for people to work. A staff reduction could have unfortunate consequences for a company, however, when the demand for its products goes up. Manufacturers are finding it nearly impossible to keep pace.

Cobots help solve both of these scenarios. They can fill gaps on the factory floor while taking on some of the work that manual laborers would have handled. RCM Industries, a machined die-cast parts manufacturer, did exactly that with its production plants-deploying two Universal Robots 10e cobots. They were more than capable of handling the capacity overflow because of a reduction in staff.

Another company, Pearson Packaging Systems, implemented cobots to fully automate palletizing -a process that was previously manual-only. The machines fit safely into confined spaces, and work exceptionally well alongside human laborers.

The Many Benefits of Collaborative Robots

Cobots: A Win for Manufacturers

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About the Author

Originally published at https://blog.isa.org.

The International Society of Automation (isa.org) is a non-profit professional association founded in 1945 to create a better world through automation.