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Robots Vs. Cobots- What’s the Future?

The world is constantly changing, with more and more technological paths to be discovered, full of opportunities and solutions. Like other businesses, the metalworking industry needs to reinvent itself to keep up with this growth.
The new technological paths, applied to the industry, bring the automation of processes to it. This happens, mainly, by labour shortage that has been notorious but, at the same time, also leads to increased productivity, with lower costs and less chance of error. Robots and cobots come into play here, but what distinguishes them, and what do they bring to the future?

Traditional Robots

Traditional robots were those that started the automation of production processes in the metalworking industry. Also known as “non-collaborative” or “industrial” robots, they emerged after the Second World War, when there was a shortage of workers in factories. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of this type of equipment:

Advantages:

  • Performs functions without requiring any human control;
  • Indicated for large-scale operations, at a speed considered high, not requiring a major change of operations;
  • Sophisticated programming;
  • Can be fully automated, which is beneficial for tasks that are too dangerous for employees;
  • More accurate production with less chance of error.

Disadvantages:

  • The fact that they work without human supervision brings disadvantages in terms of safety for operators;
  • They are expensive, and their programming has to be done by professionals as it can be quite complex;
  • They are heavy structures, difficult to move, and, as they require safety barriers, can take up a lot of space;
  • Require long and constant integration processes, which can delay the desired ROI.

Cobots- Collaborative Robots

Over the years, the industry needed an automated system that could work together with humans. As we have seen, industrial robots are mechanisms that are limited to one area, which was not accessible and understood by all employees. Thus, from this need, cobots, collaborative robots, emerged.

Advantages:

  • Thanks to the high flexibility it incorporates, the cobot manipulates objects, in the same way as a human;
  • They are more sensitive to shapes, lines, and spaces, preventing collisions and increasing safety for employees;
  • Integrate lots of features that prevent, detect, and avoid collisions. They are also equipped with safe stop systems and safety space delimitations;
  • Models are cheaper, lighter, and more accessible;
  • They work together with humans on repetitive tasks;
  • Can be operated by any worker as they incorporate intuitive and simple-to-program interfaces;
  • Since they work together, they do not need safety barriers;
  • Can be two-armed and execute tasks with double speed.

Disadvantages:

  • Generally, cobots do not support large loads;
  • For the cobot to work 24/7, human accompaniment is always needed;
  • When a cobot senses a human approach beyond the safety limit, it may slow down or even stop, leading to significant production losses.

Which is the best?

The truth is, there is no totally right answer to this question. You must analyze several situations before deciding on one piece of equipment or another.

At an early stage, you need to examine:

  • The type of application you want to give the robot;
  • The production levels and objectives you want to achieve;
  • The weight of the load the robot will work with;
  • The conditions of your workplace to install the equipment, taking into account all safety standards;
  • Do you want full or partial automation of production?
  • Do you have the necessary human resources?

After answering these questions and analyzing the mentioned advantages and disadvantages of the two equipment, you will be able to find out which is the most suitable for your business. The choice is yours.

Technology is increasingly present and embedded in business, which enhances the emergence of new solutions such as robots and cobots. Robots are equipment that can work without human intervention and perform mainly heavy-duty operations. While cobots, collaborative robots, can offer practically the same productive capacity as a human being and are accessible to any worker.

Regardless of the equipment chosen, it is necessary to automate some production processes, so that the worker can focus his attention on more relevant tasks.

We are moving, at an ever-increasing pace, towards a fully technological and innovative future.