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Author : admin | Thursday, 21 February 2019

Benefits of Collaborative Robots

Author : admin | Thursday, 21 February 2019

Tell us all about Applied Manufacturing Technologies.

 AMT was started 30 years ago as an engineering services team and has cultivated over the last three decades to become a full-scale automation solution provider. Our capabilities promote the capability to engage with our consumers at every point in their manufacturing process from front-end consultation, through concept and design, and build and field start-up. We are often targeted in robotic automation but our engineers are skilled in many areas of automation technology to allow the solution to best fit the demands of the customer.

 How do you explain a collaborative robot in your discussions with customers?

 Robots that have been designated as “collaborative” are those units that have been exclusively made to directly act with humans without the use of additional safety equipment and components. This is usually through the use of force constricted joints and special safety sensors. Other standard industrial robots can be designed into a collaborative workspace but they demand other components as part of that technique in order to produce a secured working environment for humans.

 Are there areas of human-robot-interaction that do not fall under your definition of a collaborative robot?

 There certainly are. For the reasons of industrial safety research there have been four forms of collaborative systems defined by how the elements of that system work together. Collaborative robots fall into just one of these types of systems. These diverse ways of monitoring space and tasks allow work areas to be designed with the method best ideal for the selected process and functionality. In fact, some systems may still require standard industrial robots but not the specific collaborative robot models.

 What are the most prevalent misconceptions customers have about collaborative robots?

 I would say the most common beliefs have to do with how collaborative robots affect safety criteria for a work space. There are some consumers that may see these types of robots as a means to quickly eliminate safety issues that they are seeing with employing traditional automation. It is true that a collaborative robot is manufactured to work without additional physical guarding like fencing. But the robot is never a lone component in a system. For example some end of arm tools may not be right with working in close proximity to a human regardless of being installed to a collaborative robot. So collaborative robots can have some benefit in this aspect but may not lessen all such issues. All parts of a system need to be considered as part of a risk examination strategy.

 What are the greatest benefits of collaborative robots that you have noticed?

 There are several benefits of implementing collaborative robots when the application and process are a good fit. One of the most talked about is floor space. Standard industrial robots tend to have buffer space and physical limitations to keep humans separated from automation hazards. Fairly, a properly designed area for collaborative robots will typically be “ fence-less ” and not call for additional space between automation and human workspaces. This use of collaborative robots takes up less valuable real estate in an industrial environment. Another benefit of collaborative robots is to create truly collaborative processes where automation and humans work not only alongside but actually with each other. Give consideration to an assembly area today where a human may perform many projects to get parts, fit them together, and test function. With collaborative robots we can split these tasks to allocate repeated monotonous tasks to automation and have the humans designated to tasks that are more dexterous or those that command decision making.

 How are your customers using collaborative robots?

 We have put in place collaborative robots in a range of applications for our customers. Really the range of applications is wide, particularly as different industries get presented to the technology. Many of the systems have focused on testing applications, pick and place material handling, and packaging handling -- driven by finding chance in traditionally manual workspaces. There are still some constraints that can be a roadblock. For example, collaborative robots have inherent speed restrictions that may affect the productivity of using this type of automation. The devices usually have payload and consistency limitations that can impact capability for a task. And there are some tasks that require non-collaborative tools to complete. But these are all pretty known issues that many companies are intending to provide options for.

 What do you think are the most guaranteeing improvements coming in collaborative robots?

 Most of the development that I think will have widespread impact has to do with application of the technology. When collaborative robots were first released people were stimulated but still uncertain of how to truly employ them. As use circumstances become available they quickly become used around an industry. One example of this is tire handling, which often happens in a highly manual workspace but is very cumbersome for actual manual activity. Spacious collaborative robots are now common place in automotive plants for this process.  Another area of progress is collaborative robot tooling. Several companies are working to offer this type of design solution to companies that want to implement collaborative robots so that they can recognize the most benefit from the “ fence-less ” capability.Finding answers like these can have exponential impact. Once a company or industry has some understanding of how to implement the technology then they will use that same methodology to replicate the value over and over again.

 Are today’s safety standards for collaborative robots proper?

 There has been a lot of importance over the last several years to target collaborative robots and collaborative technology in general, so it is moving forward. There still seems to be a common lack of clearness/understanding of how safety reviews and risks examination are carried out. And this surely gets more difficult with a collaborative system. The lack of constant global standards is also a struggle as we deal with corporations that work in different countries but want to create consistent automation processes. Collaborative robots have assisted to open some doors to industries and customer segments that are new to robot automation. This is a great thing but it also means that there are people with less experience in these standards who need guidance walking through some of these considerations.

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