CIMTEC engineers have been solving machine tending and palletizing solutions for years. Our customers continue to see a return on their investment by using robots for mundane repetitive tasks, allowing their skilled workers to focus on more important ones.
A collaborative robot (cobot) can be used in countless applications. Cobots will be a game-changing addition to your operations, whether you’re wanting to automate a laborious process, boost efficiency, or free up your personnel to conduct more technical tasks. Here, we go into greater detail about 10 cobot components and how you may use them in your company.
BENEFITS OF COBOTS
Cobots have many advantages, including improved facility safety, more productive production and packing lines, and more staff engagement. A cobot can be completely redesigned with new programming and a different robot end effector. Depending on the needs of your company, your robotic arm has the capacity to serve as both a technical tool and a manual laborer. Here are some of the most crucial or often used robot parts that you should become familiar with.
- THE ROBOTIC ARM
A cobot application’s robot arm is its most crucial feature and what distinguishes it from other applications. Without it, businesses would be forced to deploy big, space-consuming industrial robots. Some people may find that traditional robotics solutions are simply too expensive or too large for their floorspace. Automation and robotics are now available to a completely new group of smaller firms thanks to collaborative robot arms.
At Universal Robots, our focus has always been solely on perfecting the robotic arm. That’s why we have different sizes for any need: from the small tabletop UR3e to the bigger UR20we, which is great for bigger material handling tasks like palletizing. All of them have a small footprint and relatively low power requirements of a standard 110/230V wall outlet. Creating the right ‘hand’, which is known as the end of arm tooling (EOAT) or end effector, requires an entirely different set of skills. That’s why we have partnered with global third parties, many of whom offer unique or industry-leading components, through our online platform UR+.
Grippers, cable guidance systems and protective covers are some of the most important accessories when it comes to protecting your cobot application, maximizing its long-term performance and ensuring the highest standards of safety.
There are two types of clamps in the cobot world. The first is a type of cobot gripper that holds items steadily in place, which could help with detailed work that requires a stable hand. The second keeps accessories like energy chains and protective hoses fixed to your cobot, which can be easily added and removed by your operatives.
- PALLETIZING TOOLS
Cobots work best for repetitive jobs or those that endanger your human personnel. Cobots are capable of taking on a variety of palletizing tasks with the correct end effector and technological solution. You can input the dimensions of the objects your cobot will be taking up and specify a precise stacking pattern using application-specific software. Alternately, you can choose an automatic solution to get started without having to enter complicated trajectory data.
If you need to move heavier goods there are accessories such as the ‘Cobot Lift’, which can increase your robotic arm’s payload from 10kg to 45kg. Although its footprint is 50% smaller than the cell of a typical industrial robot, it has similar capabilities and can typically be used without a cage or safety fence, giving you additional lifting power while saving on floor space. Plus, it works with vacuum, mechanic, electric or magnetic end effectors, allowing you to pick up a wide range of items.
- PICK & PLACE TOOLS
Pick and place end effectors are now more intelligent than ever owing to machine vision powered by AI. Your cobot can be taught to “look” for particular objects and to recognize when something is wrong or doesn’t reach the required standard of quality. A pick and place cobot application’s charm is that it frequently works side-by-side with human coworkers without safety caging. If a probable collision is detected by built-in sensors, the robot will automatically cease moving if the force is greater than a preset threshold. External safety devices such as the Your cobot could be bin picking shoulder to shoulder with your people, allowing them to start their work with the right components, materials, or parts as soon as they have been sorted.
Polishing or sanding items to the right finish by hand is both dull and inefficient. It’s easy for a human to make a mistake, such as applying too much pressure or sanding one area too much, that can lead to damaged products and a higher risk of injury. Automated solutions like an industrial sanding belt may not be the right answer either, as they lack the finesse to finish items to a high standard such as furniture.
With a sanding or polishing end effector, you can easily automate and improve these tasks. Taking people out of the picture for simple, repeated sanding and polishing tasks will ensure a consistent result every time. The best part is that many sanding and polishing components control and adjust their applied force automatically, so you’ll get the right finish every time, even if your item is curved or flexible. Of course, you may be able to take advantage of the robot’s built-in force/torque sensor instead of opting for a more advanced external one. It depends completely on what you need your cobot application to do.
Cobot grippers are incredibly versatile. Different types of gripper can transport everything from non-standard shaped and potentially hazardous products to small, breakable objects. Magnetic grippers can lift metal items, and some have variable strength, allowing the user to adjust how strong the magnetic force is based on what is being picked or moved. There are also vacuum grippers, which use suction to move cumbersome or oddly-shaped items.
Some grippers have been specifically designed to handle delicate items and can adapt their grip strength to apply an appropriate amount of force to a range of items. There are even soft-robotics cobot grippers that can be as gentle as a human hand, making them ideal for production lines that include fragile components or products.
- MEASURING SENSORS
A cobot does not even need to touch your goods or components to make a difference. Laser tools can take accurate measurements, even when working with difficult surfaces like high-gloss paint and glass, across a range of metrics and parameters. They can also be used to guide detailed work ensuring accuracy and quality are always maintained.
- END OF ARM TOOL CHANGER
If versatility is a priority, a tool changer is one of the most useful cobot components to invest in. While a cobot is inherently easier to reprogram and repurpose than a traditional industrial robot, a tool changer makes it even easier for your operatives to switch your cobot to a new task. Your business may only have the budget for one cobot but have a number of different uses in mind – for example, using your cobot to fill any gaps that emerge on the production line, which could vary from day to day.
Some tool changers are hot pluggable, meaning your operatives can safely switch out the end effector without shutting the entire system down. This is ideal if you’d like your cobot to rapidly switch between different tasks throughout the day. Most also have a ‘one hand’ switch system, meaning end effectors click in and out or can be released by simply pressing a button. There are also
Arc, TIG, laser, MIG, ultrasonic, plasma, spot welding, soldering, and brazing can all be done by collaborative robots. All of your items will have a consistent finish thanks to a welding end effector. As your cobot can handle welding and soldering activities that may need temperatures of 10,000 °F (5,538 °C) or greater, it also lowers the danger of injury to your workers. You increase employee and customer satisfaction by keeping your workforce safe and maintaining a constant production.
There are lots of welding-specific software, hardware and application kits that have been developed by our partners available through UR+. They can help companies really tailor their cobot application to their individual needs.
- ASSEMBLY END EFFECTORS
On the assembly line, there are a variety of robot end effectors that will be useful. Simple assembly chores can be replaced by a cobot with a screwdriver or the dexterity to tighten a nut. Additionally, they’re fantastic at bridging capacity shortages brought on by challenges with hiring or brief worker absences, allowing you to avoid hiring expensive agency staff to compensate. Your staff will be free to take on more thoughtful tasks since they won’t be bound to the assembly line.
The ability to create your own tools if you so choose is another enormous advantage of cobots’ adaptability. Although there is a vast selection of ready-made UR+ tools available, the bulk of our robots actually operate with custom-made tools (mostly pneumatic). Making your own tool that is precisely suited to your needs is growing easier as 3D printing becomes more widespread.