Collaborative robots are taking the world by storm, allowing human operators to work alongside robots without the extensive guarding required by traditional robots. This opens the door for new applications for robots which can takeover repetitive tasks from humans and optimize your labor force.
This new type of robot is easier to setup and operate than its predecessors. Most models run on 120V rather than 480V/600V 3 phase power, vastly simplifying installation and allowing for easier redeployment. Touch screen pendants featuring configuration wizards guide the user step-by-step through the configuration process, making it easier than ever to put these robots into production and keep them producing.
Safeguarding & Footprint
Traditional robot installations consist of extensive fencing surrounding the robot with safety interlocks to ensure personnel does not enter the robot work area during operation. Collaborative robots can work beside humans without guarding, reducing their footprint on the production floor. They accomplish this using integrated sensors to detect if the robot contacts an object or person which stops the robot.
Heavier Payloads & Longer Reach
Early collaborative robots were limited to small robots with low payload capabilities. With a maximum payload of 10kg and a reach of just 1200mm applications were limited to light duty tasks such as label applicators or vision inspection. With increased demand for collaborative robots, manufacturers have been pushed to produce higher payload options. Such as Fanuc’s new additions to their CRX line of cobots with payloads up to 35kg and a reach of up to 1800mm. This increased payload opens the door for more application.
Collaborative robots have built in recovery options that are configurable, such as an auto resume function that allows the robot to resume production after detecting that it was contacted. Push-to-Escape function allows an operator to push the robot out of the way if they are cornered by the robot. Push buttons are also added to certain robot models which can be configured to start the robot without the need to leave the work area and press start on the robot controller. This has eliminated the need for specialized personnel to recover the robot, translating into less downtime and higher productivity.
With labor in short supply the demand for robots is growing. The ease of operation, versatility, higher payloads and longer reach collaborative robots offer makes them a great option to fill this demand. As this technology continues to evolve, collaborative robots are sure to change the landscape of manufacturing.