Innovative robots

Collaborative robots at work

| Author / Editor: Ahlam Rais / Ahlam Rais

Installed across numerous industries, the demand for cobots is steady increasing owing to its many plus points on the shop floor.
Installed across numerous industries, the demand for cobots is steady increasing owing to its many plus points on the shop floor. (Source: Deposit Photos)

Cobots are actively being installed at factories to increase productivity, assist workers to carry out monotonous tasks or lift heavy parts, and even to check quality. Collaborative robots have transformed the standard production process and manufacturers are now looking at developing the human-machine collaboration further.

Be it ringing the bell at the New York stock exchange or picking and placing sausages in plastic trays, collaborative robots are capable of all this and much more! Installed across numerous industries, the demand for cobots is steady increasing owing to its many plus points on the shop floor. Let’s take a look at the companies that have adopted cobots in their production lines.

Automotive industry

Ford, the American multinational automotive maker has incorporated Kuka’s LBR iiwa cobot for the production of its vehicles in Europe. Claimed to be one of the first in the world to work hand-in-hand with assembly line staff at the car factory, the cobot is equipped with high-tech sensors which can identify if a worker needs help if he’s standing next to it for some time. The collaborative robot is used by the major automotive firm to lift and position heavy parts on new Fiestas. The company also plans to incorporate additional cobots at its other global facilities.

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In Belgium, another automotive giant, Audi makes use of the collaborative robot CR-7iA/L by Fanuc to check welding seams of products. Apart from the advantages such as occupying less space and the no-fencing requirement, the cobots are used to monitor different qualities of the product including welding seams – its appearance, length, position and pores, especially in places that become difficult for operators to check. The cobot precisely and constantly perform these tasks without any errors. The process also makes workers calmer and more confident at work as the cobots take over some of their responsibilities without endangering their work.

Plastic and polymers industry

Denmark-based Trelleborg Sealing Solutions that caters to the plastic and polymers industry had modernised its machinery and fixed new CNC machines at its production plant. However, the sheer size of the machines was occupying more space than the previous set up and this also lead to inaccessibility of the robotic arms, which played a crucial role in optimising the processes. To overcome this hurdle, the company adopted cobots from Universal Robots. With the assistance of collaborative robots, the firm was able to carry out machine tending on the CNC machines, enabling exactly the agile manufacturing demanded by Trelleborg as the robots were easily adjusted to new sizes. This resulted in optimised production with orders ranging anywhere between a single unit to several million. Today, the firm employs 42 cobots.

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Food industry

Cobots are equally popular in the confectionery segment. Orkla Confectionery and Snacks Finland installed ABB’s Yumi cobot for packaging of mixed candies right from end of the line to the final plastic boxes. With the growing demand for mixed candies, it was vital for the firm to increase its productivity, keep the candies competitively priced, and also undergo quick changeovers for new products. With the implementation of the cobot, the company was able to increase its productivity and also gained an edge over its competitors.

These are just some of the companies that have adopted cobots in their respective production lines. With its growing popularity around the world, the gap between humans and machines on the shop floor is slowly fading away.

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