Guide to UR cobot implementation

Collaborative robots (cobots) are a cost-effective way to increase production and delivery time, optimize your processes and boost quality. But even though a cobot is much simpler and faster to set up and get working than a traditional industrial robot, there is still some preparation that needs to be done.

Guide to UR cobot implementation
Guide to UR cobot implementation

Quick guide

Whether robot implementation is helping you to overcome labor shortages and skills gaps or take your operations up a level, getting the implementation right is important. And while plant, technical, production managers and automation and process engineers are typically time-poor and very busy, it is essential to take the time to implement your new cobot properly. Without making sure it integrates into your existing setup, does what you need and preparing your work area, the process could be much more complicated and time-consuming than it needs to be.

Here's our quick guide to UR robot implementation.

Choosing the right cobot for your facility

There are 2 primary characteristics that are involved when choosing a cobot. These are the maximum payload the cobot can carry and the working range of the cobot. These 2 questions are best answered by examining the process or application that you are looking to automate. How much weight is the cobot going to have to carry or move during the application? This includes the tooling or gripping mechanisms in addition to any part or goods being moved.

For the working range, how big an area is the cobot going to be working in? How far apart are the stations the cobot needs to tend to? How large a part does the cobot need to work around? This selection can be a bit more difficult to determine so the assistance of CAD layout tools may help ease the process.

These 2 determining factors should not be thought of independently either. They directly influence each other. The heavier the payload that needs to be moved, typically, the larger the cobot required. The larger working range that is needed, typically means, a larger cobot with greater payload capabilities is required.

There are other factors to consider as well. The cobot’s weight and mounting footprint will dictate the type of mounting surface needed. The surface needs to be rigid enough to handle the forces that the cobot can exert, not only during the application process but also during the unexpected processes of an emergency stop while carrying the maximum payload at maximum speed.

Preparing your workspace

Although cobots are a pretty simple way to introduce industrial automation into your operations, they can’t just be dropped into any environment. You will need to make sure that your working area is ready. Unlike industrial robots, cobots offer an easier installation process by virtue of their intrinsically safe design and functions. The collaborative features, provided by the power and force limited joint design, allow for their human coworkers to directly interact with cobots. But you will still need to perform a thorough risk assessment. You need to be sure that you have the proper measures in place to allow humans and cobots to collaborate safely and effectively. This may mean employing safety guarding, safety sensors, alternative mounting positions or operating at reduced speeds. Our cobots come with a feature that automatically disables them if they accidentally come into contact with a human, but it is still best practice to make sure the arm isn’t moving around too fast, as determined from your risk assessment.

Your new cobot can do a lot, but it can’t do everything. Its role is to support your human workforce to allow you to better utilize them. This means leaving the dull, dirty and repetitive tasks to the robot and the higher value tasks to your team. If you want to increase the efficiency of your operations, underutilizing the human potential of your workforce is not a trap you want to fall into. To avoid this, make sure you spend some time to really set in place the processes and workflows that are going to make the best use of all your assets.

Setting it up

Once you are ready to go, it’s time to unbox your cobot and set it up. A key benefit of cobots is the relative simplicity of getting them up and running compared to other robotics solutions. Someone with automation engineering experience can get one of our cobots working and adding value to the business in **under an hour**. To get the best out of your cobot, the installation and configuration stage is crucial. Here is a high-level overview of a couple of things you need to consider.

Guide to UR cobot implementation
Guide to UR cobot implementation

Payload configuration

It is important that your cobot is set up to handle the right kinds of payload. Failure to do this properly will mean you are at risk of inaccurate or unstable robot movements, frequent halts due to unsafe movements and lots of interruptions. It may also ultimately shorten the working life of your cobot and minimize the value of your investment.

You also need to make sure you have the right end effectors and grippers for the jobs you want your cobot to do. We offer a huge range of different options through our UR+ ecosystem so you should be able to find exactly what you need.

Environmental protections

The last thing you want is your cobot taking any unnecessary damage from your working environment so make sure to put the right protections in place. If your cobot is going to be working with corrosive materials such as cutting fluids that carry atomized material bits or corrosive coolants which can quickly degrade rubber seals, you should cover it with a protective suit.

Motion programming

You will need to teach your cobot how to move effectively to best complete its task. This is a fascinating part of the process, but it will require some thinking and even a little bit of math. There are a few different considerations:

  • Creating the right blend radius so that your cobot moves through paths without having to completely stop at each waypoint. This is a way to optimize its performance
  • Making sure you are not overlapping different blend radii – this can cause the cobot to skip waypoints and not complete the full movement
  • The acceleration value determines how quickly your cobot reacts when completing tasks – higher speeds can not only be riskier for human workers but can put unwanted stress on gearboxes and joints
  • Making sure you have enabled protective stops that cause the cobot to stop if it’s working with the wrong payload or colliding with other fixtures or pieces of equipment

Once your cobot is hard at work, you should start seeing the benefits immediately. In fact, our clients often see ROI from our cobots in a year or less. Taking the time to implement your new robotic teammate properly is the key to unlocking the full benefits of industrial automation. Obviously, we are on hand to help you every step of the way so get in touch if you have questions.

For further information check out this and more support articles on our support page here:

Universal Robots

We believe that collaborative robotic technology can be used to benefit all aspects of task-based businesses – no matter what their size.

We believe that the latest collaborative robot technology should be available to all businesses. The nominal investment cost is quickly recovered as our robotic arms have an average payback period of just six months.

Local Office
  • Universal Robots USA, Inc
  • 27175 Haggerty Road, Suite 160
  • 48377 Novi, MI
Contact us: +1 844-462-6268
Contact us: + 1-844-GO-COBOT