In Part III of the Cobots v COVID-19 series, we find our collaborative robots (or 'cobots') performing mobile disinfection, swab testing and medical component manufacturing tasks. We also discover cobots tackling COVID-related labor uncertainty and meet some cobot soccer fans...
Continuity with cobots
Irrigation equipment is critical for Indian agriculture and demand is high, but many firms have been hit hard by staff absences due to COVID-19. Krishi Group, one of India's leading agricultural equipment manufacturers, was faced with a 40-50% reduction in its workforce, and struggled to keep up with demand until it introduced a UR cobot to its facility. The cobot now works alongside a human on quality control tasks that previously required two workers to complete. As CNBC Awaaz reported (see video below), the cobot has helped with social distancing too...
Meet the Nasal Swab Cobot
Taiwan's Brain Navi recently unveiled its 'Brain Navi Nasal Swab Robot,' an automated system for taking nasal samples that's powered by a UR cobot. The cobot performs several tasks during the procedure: first, it picks up a swab with help from one of Robotiq's 2-finger grippers. Then it identifies the subject's nostril using a smart camera attachment and with the assistance of a force sensor, carefully inserts the swab into the patient's nasal cavity. The cobot turns the swab slowly, waits ten seconds, slowly removes the swab and places this in a tube for transport to a testing facility. The system is currently going through the regulatory process in both the United States and Taiwan.
See the Brain Navi Nasal Swab Robot in action below:
Battling labor uncertainty with cobots
All Axis Machining, a 20-person contract machine shop and fabricator based in Dallas, TX, was hit by reduced production capacity due to social distancing requirements. Faced with the prospect of turning down future orders, the company deployed eight UR10 cobots for essential machine tending tasks, enabling it to increase production, despite the labor uncertainty caused by the current pandemic.
“It’s the best thing we’ve ever done, I have not lost any spindle time because of the pandemic,” says owner of All Axis Machining, Gary Kuzmin.
When social distancing regulations led to a reduction in All Axis Machining's production capacity, the company turned to cobots to ensure continuity.
Mass mask production with cobots
In April 2020, Alabama-based HomTex shifted production to start making high performance, disposable face masks to help combat COVID-19. Following the success of that project, HomTex has announced a USD5 million investment to add 15 lines with the capacity to produce 350 million masks per year. With plans to use Universal Robots UR5e for end of line case packing and the UR10e for palletization tasks, the company plans to produce 350 million masks per year.
HomTex's expansion is expected to create 80-120 new jobs.
Mobile disinfection cobots
Drim Robotics, a UR Certified Systems Integrator based in Czechowice-Dziedzice, Poland, has developed a mobile disinfection platform that combines a UR5 cobot arm mounted on a MiR100 platform. The system is designed to spray disinfectant and is managed remotely using cloud software, enabling workers to sanitize large areas without putting themselves at risk.
Making precision medical components with cobots
Medical equipment makers have been scrambling to stock up on supplies due to COVID-19, leading to a global spike in demand for precision components. Netherlands-based RM Precision Machine Co., has seen a massive increase in demand for its respiratory components, which prompted a company decision to run all its machines 24/7, rather than the usual 8/5. To ensure round-the-clock operations on its CNC machine, the company installed a UR10 cobot. The move has proven a success, resulting in a massive reduction in the turnaround time from order to production –down from an average of two months to just 2 weeks.
The UR10's ease of use was a major factor in allowing RM Precision to handle the sudden jump in production, with the company's CNC-Progammer and Miller, Daniel van Voorthuizen, noting that after staff completed a short online UR Academy course, “the robot was up and running in no time.”
The UR cobots enabled RM Precision to more than triple production as demand for respiratory components spiked
Wait! There's more...
When Danish Superliga soccer team Hobro IK returned to action recently, the club needed a way to bring some color and atmosphere to the touchline, while still complying with social distancing regulations. In the end, they turned to Universal Robots distributor Technion for support. The result? Several flag-waving UR cobots turned out to show their support for Hobro.
Check out Hobro's 'Cobot Ultras' preparing for the action!