With global sales predicted to reach US$12 billion, collaborative robots will soon drive the automation market as more and companies of all sizes and within a wide range of industries adopt this technology. Growth in the collaborative robot market is fuelled not only by the fact that they are inexpensive and easy to install and operate, but also because they offer a number of key benefits such as:
Research has shown that collaboration between a human operator and a robot is 85% more productive than if either were working independently from one another. And this increased productivity can be achieved almost from day one. With 15 built-in safety functions, a Universal Robot cobot can be set up and work safely side-by-side with human operators (subject to risk assessment) to increase output in just half a day on average.
Designed to carry out tedious, repetitive and strain inducing tasks, collaborative robots improve the working environment for employees by reducing their exposure to musculoskeletal disorders and potential workplace hazards. This in turn equates to less work days lost for the company and up to an 85% reduction in staff idle time.
Collaborative robots can be re-programmed quickly and easily to switch between different tasks in a manufacturing process and reduce production downtime significantly, thereby boosting overall profitability.
As an example, Swedish food producer Atria managed to reduce changeover times whilst switching between packaging two different products from 6 hours to 20 minutes. Collaborative robots also offer the precision and accuracy needed when handling fragile or intricate materials, to ensure consistent product quality whilst increasing output. Another example is Aurolab, an Indian manufacturer of intraocular lenses and other ophthalmic consumables, which achieved a 15% rise in output once it had installed UR cobots in its production facilities.
Reductions in errors and wastage
The precision and accuracy of collaborative robots also leads to a notable decrease in human error and waste during the manufacturing process. Even for simple, repetitive tasks, there is potential for humans to make a mistake. Installing a collaborative robot in critical points of the process can therefore reduce this human-related risk, optimise the use of materials and avoid costly product recalls.