The robotic industry has developed several types of collaborative robots. The difference between these robots is in how they are programmed and their safety features. Nevertheless, each type of collaborative robot is for with special technology to deploy its designated function while maintaining a safe working environment for human workers.
Collaborative robots (cobots) have a wide range of applications due to their adaptability and comprehensible software. These two aspects allow them to perform a wide range of automation activities. Although, in theory, collaborative robots are special for learning anything, several applications recur frequently. This article highlights some of the most common collaborative robot applications.
Industries where Collaborative Robots Are Used
Collaborative robots are in a wide range of industries. They are used in the automotive industry for assembling cars. They are also in the plastic and metal industry for low-volume, high-mix production because they can be rapidly converted to meet production demands. Tasks performed by collaborative robots in this industry include welding, soldering, and press brakes.
Collaborative robots are also used in the food and electronics industries for food production and small electrical production that require precision sensors. The electronic industry also uses cobots to automate testing and quality processes, while the pharmaceutical industry uses collaborative robots for picking, placing, palletizing, and quality testing. They eliminate errors during production and increase productivity through automation.
The pick and place collaborative robots center around assembly line processes that require moving, picking, and placing items from or on a conveyor belt. They are also used in processes that involve picking items from the bin and placing them in packages or grouping them on treadmills. Pick and place robots can execute more complex tasks with added tools like a sensitive gripper or double gripper. The most common type of pick and place robot is the robotic arm, particularly the 5-axis robotic arm, which picks, moves, and places items in a single plane.
Bin picking is a relatively complex task that involves identifying materials from a bin and picking them one at a time. So Bin picking robots are designed to grasp parts in an infinite number of objects deep within bins. It can only be fully automatable when multiple advanced technologies are used together. These parts include a 3D sensor that maps the bin, the bin, the placement target, and the robot end, the effector. However, bin picking also supplies or picks items on the conveyor belt.
Screwing and unscrewing is a simple and autonomous task that humans still outperform robots. However, recent technology has developed special software to bring a screw in line with the hole on the object by utilizing equal force and precision. Although humans outperform machines in locating crews and their sockets, precisely programmed machines sustain this equal force continuously for more hours in a week than humans.
Sanding and Polishing
Sanding and polishing robots are more productive than humans. When correctly programmed, they reduce costs associated with errors and overuse of consumable materials and reduce workers’ injury costs. The grit number on the sanding surface determines the level of the surface’s coarseness. Collaborative robots with 400 grits produce smooth surfaces without scratches. Cobots have built-in sensors that enable them to follow any line while applying force on the sanded paper.
A palletizing robot uses a robotic arm to pick, move and place specific products and arrange them into a single stack load. These robots take advantage of the concept of unit load, which is the assembly of similar materials in boxes, trays, or cases, making the movement of these objects faster and more economical. The palletizing robots also combine the crates into a single load.
The crates or boxes are picked using an electric vacuum gripper and placed on pallets. Palletizing robots lower capital costs through their multi-tasking abilities and versatility. They also eliminate the need for hoses and external air supply, which facilitates irrigation, reduces noise, and simplifies integration.
Machine tending puts parts in a bending, CNC lathe machine, or another kind of machine. While the robot carries out its task, operators are free. This improves operator safety and gives them time for higher-level tasks. It also improves production, and productivity can go on after usual working hours for business flexibility and greater output.
Quality Testing and Inspection
Collaboration robots are in a wide range of industries. For example, a collaborative robot puts objects in a testing machine and sorts the objects that meet or fail to meet the standard. These robots are equipped with 3D and 2D vision sensors that allow them to inspect several parts with precision and high accuracy. They are lightweight and have a small footprint which makes them easy to deploy and redeploy for various manufacturing tasks frequently.
Soldering and Welding
Soldering and welding are tasks that require concentration from welders. It is also quite boring and monotonous for humans. The monotony and precision of this task make it min-numbing for humans over time, affecting the quality of the end products. Soldering and welding robots do not suffer from fatigue like humans. They can work for long hours and produce the same quality of work. Moreover, soldering and welding robots are also more precise than humans.
Gluing and Sealing
Gluing and sealing robots apply sealants or adhesives to bind any object. These robots work at a specified speed and accuracy when the glue sealants mount on the robot’s end. The robot travels along the specified path as it consistently dispenses sealants or glue on the surface. Like quality testing and inspection robots, gluing and sealing robots have a wide range of market and product applications.
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Collaborative robots come in a variety of designs thanks to the robotics industry. These robots differ from one another in terms of their programming and safety characteristics. Each collaborative robot type is with unique technologies to carry out its assigned task while providing a secure working environment for human workers, nevertheless.
New technology has led to the production of complex robots capable of low and high-volume production and constant production operations in a wide range of industries. They have made production processes in industries faster and more cost-effective. Industries can now produce better quality goods that satisfy the varying demands of customers.