Mark Thompson, business development manager for Aycliffe-based Cobots Online, answers some of the questions around collaborative robots…
I was brought up in a generation where robots were things of science fiction and belonged in a fantastical future of automation, with R2-D2 & C-3PO in Star Wars or taking over the world like Skynet and the Terminator! The thing is that robots and cobots are here now and represent a real opportunity for competitive advantage.
Since starting with Cobots Online, I have regularly been asked several questions which are worthwhile answering in this article.
What is a cobot?
A collaborative robot, or a cobot, is designed to work alongside people in a shared workspace. They are safe, efficient and perfect for handling repetitive tasks, accurate where required and capable of working 24-7 with little interaction.
How much does a cobot cost? They’re expensive aren’t they?
Typically, we’ve found that cobots will pay for themselves within the first year or two and have been proved to provide savings into the hundreds of thousands of pounds over a short-term contract period. If financed, they usually start saving money from year one. The question is, can you afford not to have one?
Are they hard to programme and use?
Like most things they are easy when you know how – which is where Cobots Online comes in. Having used cobots in our own factory and supplied them to some of the biggest organisations in the world, we understand how they work and are committed to helping our customers get the most from them too.
Are they safe?
Looking at their ‘big brothers’, the industrial robots, working furiously away, you would be forgiven for thinking a robot would stop at nothing to get the job done, which is why they are locked away in their safety cells/cages.
Yet, in the case of a cobot, they are equipped with sensors which will slow or stop the cobot when people get too close – thus allowing them to work alongside (and making them safer than) co-workers.
What can you do with a cobot?
Cobots come with a wide range of tools attachments so projects we have been asked to do include depalletizing, assembly, machine tending, welding, sanding and lots more.
They can be as accurate as placing a chip on a circuit board to prepping and welding huge structures. They can work all day and night and be used in environments not suitable for humans.
What if I want to do more than one task in more than one location? Surely that would be complicated?
No problem! Cobots can be programmed for multiple tasks with rapid tool changes and can be provided with locatable bases to allow multiple tasks on multiple machines with only one cobot. This ensures achieving the best utilisation and return on investment.
The running costs will be expensive and they’ll not last long – surely?
Cobots are efficient to run and have very reasonable servicing requirements (depending on the environment) and have been proven to last in excess of nine years.
How do I know whether a cobot would be a good investment for my company?
Ask! Our Cobots Online business is borne from realising that people need help in choosing the operation to automate, creating the best fit and setting up the solution. We have first-hand knowledge of doing that and are very keen to help.
Hopefully, the answers above help to clarify that a cobot would be good for you and, at the very least, allow you to bridge the gap between “Sci-Fi” and today’s competitive advantage.
If you believe a cobot would be a good investment for your business, please get in touch at [email protected] or give us a call/leave a message and, wait for it… “I’ll be back!”
Business development manager, Cobots Online
T: 01325 313377
E: [email protected]