6 bottom line benefits cobots deliver in medical device manufacturing

Image from Sanofi case study

Medical device manufacturing plays a crucial role in improving healthcare outcomes for millions of people around the world. It is responsible for the production of a vast range of medical devices, including diagnostic equipment, surgical instruments and implants. These devices must meet strict regulations and standards to make sure they are safe to use.

Collaborative robots, or cobots, have emerged as a game-changer in medical device manufacturing. Working alongside human operators (after a proper risk assessment), cobots are enhancing productivity, and improving workplace safety across the sector. Check out the UR Ebook series here

Now let’s look at six of the key benefits cobots are having for medical device manufacturers.

#1 Addressing labor shortages

Like many other sectors in the global economy, the pharma and medical device manufacturing industry faces significant challenges when it comes to labor. Many companies are finding it difficult to recruit skilled workers as well as retain the talent they already have. In this situation, integrating cobots into a company’s workflows is less about replacing human workers and more about optimizing the limited human resources you do have.

If you don’t have enough skilled professionals, it doesn’t make operational or commercial sense to have them doing repetitive, physical demanding or mundane tasks for large parts of the days. By integrating cobots into clinical lab automation and medical device manufacturing, companies can optimize human resources and allocate them to higher-value activities. This not only has the potential to increase productivity but boost morale and increase retention too.

Learn more about the labor shortage in manufacturing

#2 Cost effective, rapid deployment

One of the key benefits that cobots bring to the table in manufacturing environments is their ability to take on a wide range of tasks without the need for extensive reprogramming. Medical device manufacturers need solutions that are quick to deploy without major infrastructure changes and quick to re-deploy without expensive reconfiguration as production needs change. Cobots offer a plug-and-play style approach to automation. These machines are designed to be easily integrated into existing workflows, minimizing downtime and disruption to operations.

Unlike more heavy-duty automation solutions, cobots offer the flexibility to adjust capacity and throughput as needed, avoiding overinvestment or underutilization of resources. This scalability, coupled with (typically) lower maintenance costs, ensures cost efficiency alongside higher productivity levels.

Hofman Glastechnik
Hofman Glastechnik

#3 Flexibility and quick redeployment

In the innovative world of medical device manufacturing, companies increasingly need to be able to adapt to changing production requirements quickly.

One of the key benefits of cobots is their ease of reprogramming and redeployment. Unlike traditional fixed automation systems, cobots can be quickly repurposed for different tasks on the production line. Manufacturers can easily modify the cobot's programming to accommodate changes in product specifications, demand, or new product introductions. This flexibility allows for a swift response to market needs, without the need for extensive downtime or complex reconfiguration.

The ability to redeploy cobots for different tasks also enables manufacturers to better manage their production mix. Whether it's assembly, packaging, or quality control, cobots can be swiftly moved to different areas of the production line, providing the versatility required to accommodate varying product lines or production demands.

#4 Efficient use of floorspace

Just like other manufacturers, medical device companies are always looking to make the most of limited floorspace. Unlike traditional industrial robots that require substantial space for operation, cobots can be easily accommodated in small areas without compromising productivity. They can also safely operate alongside human workers safely (after a proper risk assessment is performed).

Image from Siemens case study
Image from Siemens case study

Universal Robots’ cobots are designed with built-in safety features that allow them to work closely with humans without the need for large safety barriers. This helps medical device manufacturers to make the most of their available floor space, ensuring efficient use of resources and maximizing productivity.

#5 High precision for assembly applications

Cobots offer a significant advantage with their high precision capabilities when it comes to delicate assembly tasks. Medical devices often require intricate assembly processes, involving small and delicate components. Thanks to their advanced sensors and programming capabilities, cobots can precisely position and manipulate parts, ensuring optimal fit and alignment. This level of precision makes sure that the final product meets the strict quality standards of the medical industry.

But the high precision of cobots goes beyond assembly applications. It can also be utilized in other areas of medical device manufacturing, such as machine tending, surface finishing (polishing), kitting, case packing, and palletizing.

#6 Powerful software tools for communications and data traceability

One of the key advantages of cobots is their ability to integrate with existing manufacturing systems. Through robust software interfaces and protocols, cobots can seamlessly connect with other machinery and systems on the production floor. This integration allows for real-time data exchange, enabling manufacturers to gather valuable insights and make informed decisions based on accurate and up-to-date information.

The software capabilities of cobots not only facilitate communication within the production environment but also enable full data traceability. Our machines can capture and record critical data points for assembly parameters, quality control measurements, and production timestamps. This is invaluable in terms of quality control. It allows manufacturers to track and analyze the performance of each medical device, ensuring consistent compliance to strict quality standards.

Learn more about cobot automation in our webinar series

A positive impact on the bottom line

Ultimately, the adoption of cobots in pharma and medical device manufacturing leads to better outcomes for patients. By improving efficiency, quality, and safety in the production process, cobots contribute to the development and delivery of innovative and reliable medical devices. This has the very real potential to positively impact the lives of millions of people in every part of the world.

Get in touch to find out more about how our cobot solutions could transform your pharma and medical device manufacturing.  Contact us at and we will review your application, connect you with a qualified UR solution partner, arrange a live demonstration and more.

Joe Campbell

Joe Campbell is a 40+ year veteran of the robotics and automation industry. After executive assignments in sales, marketing, operations and customer service with industry leading robot, system integrator and engineering companies, Joe recently retired as head of strategic marketing for Universal Robots North America. He is a regular speaker, lecturer and author on manufacturing labor issues, and the technology and economic benefits of robots and factory automation.

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