(excerpt from OnRobot article Feb. 2022)
How the Biggest Trend in Collaborative Automation Simplifies Deployments & Boosts Productivity
In the B.C. era (Before Collaboration, that is), automation was the sole preserve of industrial giants with massive budgets. Automation was cumbersome, inflexible, expensive, and difficult to program. Deployment time was measured in years.
The emergence of collaborative robot systems, user-friendly tooling, and intuitive programming software over the past 10-15 years has changed all that. Deployment time is now measured in days and weeks, and the technological playing field between small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the behemoths of industry has been leveled. We are now in the Collaborative Era.
Pioneered by collaborative automation companies, but since embraced by the entire robotics industry, the current Collaborative Era is one in which automation has been democratized. The traditional barriers to automation adoption have been dismantled, providing benefits for smaller companies in particular.
What is collaborative automation?
The word ‘collaborative’ conjures images of humans and robots collaborating on tasks as equal partners. This is not the case. Collaborative automation –which consists of robot arms, end-effectors, tools, accessories, and software– are simply easy-to-use tools designed to boost human productivity across a wide range of applications from sanding and screwdriving to pick & place.
The term ‘collaborative automation’ also refers to automation systems that enable humans, robots, and end-of-arm tools to share the same workspace safely (following a standard risk assessment), without the need for extensive safety fencing or guarding. In the Collaborative Era, the old-fashioned humans-vs-robots dynamic is completely switched around, enabling humans and automation to work together.
Today, the nature of collaborative automation itself is changing, driven by the requirements of a fast-paced manufacturing sector that is also experiencing significant change, from increasing digitalization and the move towards more customizable, high mix/low volume (HMLV) production, to an increasing need for automation due to ongoing labor shortages.
The benefits of the Collaborative Era are yours for the taking, but finding the right approach is key. By combining all the best features of cobot technologies to provide the ultimate in usability and speed of deployment, the biggest trend in collaborative automation shows the way forward.
The rise of the collaborative application
The most important trend in collaborative automation today is the rise of the collaborative application solution.
Collaborative application solutions are complete, off-the-shelf solutions, that provide all the hardware, software, tools and accessories required to take on specific applications, such as palletizing, sanding, material handling, or machine tending. SMEs are application focused. We believe automation should be application-focused too.
This application-focused trend combines all that is good about collaborative automation –usability, affordability, cost savings, and flexibility—and presents it to you in a single, off-the-shelf solution. At OnRobot, we believe that this is how industrial automation was always supposed to be –intuitive, application-focused, and accessible to companies of all sizes, even those with no prior robotics experience.
Find out more about onRobot or let one of our engineers show you a demo, 877.524.6832.