While cobots have been enabling manufactures to run agile operations and increase performance for a decade, today’s cobots are built to do even more. This week we launched the UR16e cobot that can lift as much as 16 kg, apply the ideal force-sensing required for sensitive applications such as screw- and nut-driving, while easily and safely handling heavy-duty applications, including machine tending, heavy-part handling and palletizing.
Here are five ways today’s cobots enable manufacturers to stay competitive and unlock more value:
Repetitive, mundane, and ergonomically challenging tasks are ripe for boredom or injury, which also means they’re good options for cobot deployment. In almost any kind of production environment, cobots can significantly increase productivity levels. Cobots work alongside humans, taking on dull, repetitive tasks, reducing human error, and allowing humans to be more productive with other more valuable tasks. As an example, Hyundae Induction Hardening Heat Treatment (HIHHT) was faced with increasing employee fatigue and errors due to repetitive tasks. After the company installed two UR10 cobots its failure rate decreased from 0.03% to 0.01% and production efficiency increased by 31%. By automating repetitive processes, HIHHT was also able to hire two additional employees.
Of course, the goal of any business is to be as profitable as possible. When cobots are on the job, manufacturers lower the cost of production at scale and in turn, increase profitability. In fact, a 2019 study done by UK-based research firm Smither Pira found that a 1% decrease in production cost delivers a 34% increase in profit. Humans can leverage cobots as a tool to ensure accuracy and consistency so a plant doesn’t experience any unnecessary downtime – which can be quite costly for any organization – reduce cycle times, enabling manufacturers to deliver high-quality goods consumers demand at lower production costs.
At first, employees may be skeptical about the addition of cobots to the factory floor, but cobots won’t – and shouldn’t – replace human workers. Instead, they are designed to work alongside humans, taking on the more monotonous, error-prone tasks, and positioning workers to handle the tasks that require more cognition, dexterity, and reason. When employees are free from tackling dull and dangerous work, they can take on more rewarding work. In a 2019 report on the consumer packaged goods industry, McKinsey found that extensive automation can ease recruitment and retention by creating new technical roles with better pay, opportunities, and working conditions.