A Way to Improve Scottish SME’s Manufacturing Output


June 2021

A Way to Improve Scottish SME’s Manufacturing Output

A major drive in any manufacturing company is to improve efficiencies. One way to do this is to streamline processes and find where certain operations are costing you money and time. One good place to start is looking around your facilities and identify where all the repetitive and costly tasks are. By repetitive we mean the jobs that are done, day in and day out, such as machine tending, loading, unloading, sanding, dispensing, screwing and even inspection.



In most of these applications, there will be an operator who is carrying out very dull and mundane tasks, and these operators’ performance will eventually dwindle during their shift. This could lead to a very demoralised employee, who although skilled at what they do, will probably either develop repetitive strain injuries (RSI) and have to be redeployed, or possibly leave. In both cases, you are left with a gap in your manufacturing process, whist you re-train someone else, and then more than likely, the whole cycle will be repeated. This doesn’t even consider the drop-in production rates.


cobot robot safe


How do you change this?

Automating repetitive tasks, could be expensive, and lead times on a specially built system could be long. This is where collaborative robots come into their own.


What is a cobot?

A cobot, or collaborative robot, is a robot intended for direct human robot interaction within a shared space, or where humans and robots are in close proximity. Cobot applications contrast with traditional industrial robot applications in which robots are isolated from human contact. Wikipedia

In addition to the above definitions, cobots from universal robot can also be defined as a robot arm that has been designed and developed to carry out repetitive tasks, is simple to program and can easily be moved from location to location to carry out other tasks by simply selecting another program.



Are they expensive?

The cost of a cobot various depending on the size, with universal robots providing UR3’s (3kg payload), UR5 (5kg payload), UR10 (12kg payload) and the big brother UR16 (16kg payload). In addition to this, there is myriad on end effector tooling such as vison system, gripper, dispensing systems and even welding systems, all designed around UR cap, so integration is seamless. ROI on the cobots is generally eight to twelve months. However, if the cobot is used over more than one shift, then the ROI is much faster.


Can I Finance These?

Cash flow is king in most companies, and many companies are reluctant to invest when out right buying is the only option. The cobots can be leased through DLL leasing, and this can be just for the cobot, or for all the equipment that goes with it. The monthly leasing costs will work out to be far less than what you are paying someone to carry out these repetitive tasks.



I’ve Never Programmed a Robot

This may sound too good to be true, but after carrying out basic training and even with no previous robot programming, you will be able to have your cobot carrying out operations. It really is very simple. If you know what you want it to do, then you will be able to make it do it. This is a long way a way from industrial robots, where you would either have to employ and expensive programmer or subcontract this work. A majority of the cobots we supply are installed by the end user after training, with a high number of these customers upskilling their operators to program the cobots.


Cobots to Increase Productivity

Although cobots can be used to help overcome labour shortages, a bi-product of this is also an increase in production. They may carry out a task in a similar time to human, but they won’t stop. Researchers at a BMW factory found that by having a mix of humans and collaborative robots working together, the idle time of the production line was reduced by 85%. The main reason for this is that the cobot sets the pace. Introducing cobots can sometimes come across as a threat to employees, so bringing these people on board as early as possible will help. It is after all an opportunity for these operators to move away from these mundane jobs and be upskilled in the process.



How Can I See a Demo of a Cobot?

SP Elements cobot applications engineers, can bring one to you. During the demonstration we will show the basic functions and have setting up programs within half an hour.

Braden Henderson

[email protected]

07761 514749




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