Universal Robots is a leading pioneer in the field of collaborative industrial robots called cobots. Since the company sold its first commercial model in 2008, it has grown exponentially year over year and has, to date, sold more than 23,000 robot arms around the world. This growth is also reflected by the increased adoption of collaborative robots across almost all industries as both large corporations as well as small and medium enterprises discover the benefits of this technology.
However, the increase of cobots has also given rise to a series of misconceptions about them based on a lack of understanding of the benefits and implications behind their use in various industries. Below are some of the most common misconceptions of cobots.
In contrast to traditional industrial robots, cobots are, by their basic concept, used as collaborative tools which are designed to operate safely alongside human workers without the need for protective fencing (subject to risk assessment). In Universal Robots’ case, the collaborative robot has seven fixed safety functions (in accordance with ISO 13849) and eight adjustable safety limits (ISO 15066) built in which means it will not pose a health or safety risk to people working by their side.
Only 10% of jobs are fully automatable, the majority still require the dexterity, and the ability to solve problems and make creative decisions that only humans can provide. Robots not only create jobs, by increasing productivity but also create better work environments, by relieving human workers from performing tedious, dangerous or repetitive tasks and allowing them to take on new roles and acquire new skills. Furthermore, the robotics industry itself is predicted to generate two million new jobs globally over the next three years.
Weighing as little as 11kgs, cobots are compact, lightweight, easy to install and require minimal maintenance. With an average set up period of half a day, they can be quickly deployed without the need to change the production layout and redeployed between tasks where changeover times can be reduced by as much as 50%.
Cobots are designed to be simple, precise and easy to install in almost any kind of process. They are ideal for small- to medium-sized companies for whom traditional industrial robots have always been too bulky and expensive to even consider. They allow the automation of uncomplicated yet repetitive or strenuous tasks such as pick and place, screw driving, packaging and palletizing, gluing and welding etc.
Collaborative robots are cheaper than traditional industrial robots and do not need expensive specialist technicians or major infrastructural changes to install, making them highly cost-effective. They can be redeployed to carry out different production tasks and operate around the clock, reducing production costs by up to 20% and offering ROI in less than a year.