Over the last few years, collaborative robotics has come to the fore as a way to increase manufacturing flexibility and improve ROI. When considering a human-robot collaborative workcell, we explicitly incorporate and expect humans to be safely working close to and/or interacting with the robot during operation.
Collaborative robots helped manufacturers keep production lines running during the pandemic. They're accessible to small- and medium- sized businesses. And their simplicity just may help to shrink the skills gap.
Collaborative robots, or cobots, help humans and robots work together safely. Small, medium and large companies are increasingly choosing these human-friendly versions over traditional industrial robots, which are complex to use and are typically relegated to safety cages.
The days when only large companies could adopt automation are long past. Collaborative robots (cobots), lightweight industrial robot arms (LIRAs) and affordable peripherals such as vision systems and grippers have created a new paradigm by making low cost, easy to use automation solutions available to small-to-medium sized companies for the first time.
In this application case study, we look at how a manufacturer of precision optical manufacturing and metrology equipment uses collaborative robots and a new robotic gripper/caliper to provide a solution that helps its customers optimize quality control measurements in the quality assurance area of their factory.
For decades, many manufacturers have counted on robots to tirelessly produce parts of predictable quality. One of the key attributes of robots is their repeatability, which means that their tool tip will return to the same pre-programmed location with a known and relatively small error.
At IMTS 2018, like at any industrial trade show, the predominant theme was Industry 4.0. Although Industry 4.0 still has not scaled up to cover a significant percentage of manufacturing setups, its vision of near-total automation—and the promise of resulting cost savings—has clearly captured the industry’s imagination.
The explosive growth of robots shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, especially in manufacturing. We are not quite to the level of a ‘90s action movie, but robots are certainly popping up in a lot more places these days. What may come as a surprise is the many ways companies are now using these robots, especially when it comes to metrology.