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, what makes Cobots different from traditional industrial robots and why are they now revolutionizing industrial automation? The three main reasons are explained below.
Traditional robots are large and bulky, requiring a large amount of space on the factory floor and typically weigh 50kg or more. Designed for carrying out heavy duty tasks from a fixed installation, they can be difficult and costly to redeploy. Cobots on the other hand are small, compact and lightweight. Capable of operating in restricted workspaces, their modular design allows them to be relocated and reprogrammed quickly and easily for different tasks across a variety of tasks in the production line.
Safety is a key concern in all working environments and is one of the main differentiating factors between Cobots and their larger counterparts. Traditional industrial robots require extensive physical safety barriers. Cobots on the other hand do not require safety barriers around them (subject to risk assessment). Designed specifically to work alongside people in a collaborative environment, the cobot automatically stops when an obstruction is detected.
Traditional industrial robots need qualified specialist technicians with knowledge and expertise in robot programming to set up and install. This process can take days if not weeks and can be costly in terms of downtime and man hours. All for one single task. If it needs to be redeployed for a new task, the whole lengthy process starts again. Cobots, however, are quick and easy to install, often in less than half a day. They come with an intuitive and user-friendly interface that allows anyone to learn how to program them, even without previous knowledge or experience. This makes them much more versatile and means they can be reprogrammed and redeployed rapidly anywhere in the factory, and ideal for high-mix, low volume productions.