Covid-19 has truly changed our world as we know it. It’s affected the way we communicate, the way we travel, the way we shop and the way we think. Whilst much of the world and economy has come to a standstill, workplaces have had to change the way they operate. The same can be said for the manufacturing industry.
Many office based jobs have been able to adopt a remote way of working, taking laptops and headsets home to continue running from sofas and kitchen tables. It’s just not possible for manufacturing however and many businesses have had to come to a standstill, due to lockdown and social distancing preventing employees from entering the factories.
The answer is automation
Automated robots in manufacturing take on repetitive takes with unparalleled speed and accuracy, leaving the job to get done with minimal man-power. This leaves employees with more time to focus on innovation and efficiency in a time when it’s needed most.
But which type of robotic system is best -industrial or collaborative? Let’s start by explaining the difference.
Industrial robots are what most people will envision when they think of a robot on the shop floor. They complete repetitive and potentially dangerous tasks and do not need the help of a human to do their job – plus, they do it better and quicker than any human could.
Collaborative robots, otherwise known as cobots, on the other hand are designed to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. They are also designed to perform these repetitive, error-prone tasks. Before the pandemic, it was estimated that cobots will comprise 34% of total robot sales by 2025!
When it comes to deciding which robot is best, it will depend on the type of manufacturing business doing the deciding. It’s important to understand the strengths and limitations of both robot types, as this is critical to chart a successful future.
Industrial robots: pros and cons
One of, if not the main advantage of industrial robots is the speed in which they can perform complex tasks and they payloads that they can handle. Both exceed that of cobots. If you’re looking for automation that can deliver significant productivity gains, industrial is the best way to turn. They are often integrated into more specialised manufacturing systems than cobots are.
However, because of the speed and force provided by industrial robots, substantial safety systems are needed to ensure that safety is maintained. Because of this, the integration of powerful systems and the safeguards required come with a higher price tag than cobots.
Collaborative robots: pros and cons
Cobots are the cheaper of the two solutions as they operate at lower speeds and payloads than industrial robots. In fact, they are relatively low cost. Their inherent safety, flexibility, easy integration and collaborative nature means that they have the potential to deliver significant productivity improvements and a fast return on investment.
The cobot sector has seen a lot of innovation, not just from system manufacturers but also from accessory software and end-of-arm tooling suppliers, which has widened their appeal and potential. They are becoming more and more popular and accepted and this is set to only increase and things begin to move again after the coronavirus pandemic.
When making the decision between industrial or collaborative robots, a manufacturing business needs to work out exactly what they want to accomplish by using one – be that increased production, increased worker safety or reduced scrap levels. Talk to organisations and experts who can help and undertake an audit to see which robot solution makes the best financial and operational sense for your needs.