Cobots Used for Machine Loading

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August 2020

Cobots Used for Machine Loading

In most manufacturing industries, supply and demand can change rapidly. It is therefore an essential part of any manufacturing business to ensure they have a contingency in place to allow them to react to these high peaks and low troughs. Relying on hiring more people and operators to carry out respective tasks can be time-consuming and therefore dramatically increase the time it takes manufacturers to react to an increase in demand.

With the Outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, and the enormous task faced by manufactures of critical medical equipment in admittedly extreme times to react, has been overwhelming. Moving forward and beyond these extremely difficult times, many manufacturing companies may have to review how they react to high demands, and also how they revert to normal working in the future, knowing that the highs may again return soon.

In the manufacturing world, many applications utilise human workers to carry out repetitive tasks, which includes machine loading and unloading. However, cobots used for machine loading can be even more effective. From a manufacturers point of view, using operators to carry out these tasks, can provide them with the ability to redeploy these operators to other lines when required. With many of these tasks quick line changeovers often happen, and therefore traditional bespoke automation would not lend itself, both in terms of functionality, as well as cost.

 

 

Traditional industrial robots are still used for many ends of line solutions, but the cost along with size and footprints, sometimes restricts these projects turning from a requirement and into reality. The result is that lines that solely rely on operators, then face additional downtime due to human inefficiencies and sometimes injuries. This is also compounded by humans having to wait for machines to finish operations to allow them to carry out their procedure. The safety of the operator is paramount, but many of these safety guidelines implemented to do this are to the detriment of the machine output.

For around 10 years Universal robots have been introducing many industries to collaborative robots, including loading and unloading, CNC machine tending, mould machine tending, face mask manufacturing and other areas in medical and critical care product manufacturing.

 

What Advantages will Cobot Machine Loading Give Me?

As previously mentioned, one of the advantages of using humans in machine loading applications, is their ability to quickly adapt to different situations and therefore make them a good choice for several applications. However, the cobot has been designed to do that very thing. The simplicity of the programming and the ability to quickly redeploy them makes them very attractive.

 

Simple Programming?

From a programming point of view, user-friendly language is extremely simple to learn and use, even for people with no previous programming knowledge.

The Polyscope programming language used in Universal Robots cobots, is an extremely simple system to use, and constructed line by line of commands and weigh points, with no resemblance to any other robot or machine programming language. If you can read, and know what you want the robot to do, then programming is not a problem. The advantage of this is that an operator can be trained to program these, and therefore giving less reliance on your highly paid engineers and technicians. In the event of a problem or a crash, again the operator would quickly be able to attend to this, therefore reducing downtime.

 

 

Flexibility

Except for environments such as corrosive environments where the robot arm would have to be protected, the cobots can be used in almost any location. Fast deployment is crucial, and with the cobot having the ability to store hundreds of programs that you have produced for different functions around your factory, the robot can be easily wheeled into position to carry out a new task, on another machine, for another process.

 

Collaborative & Safe

Figures show that eighty percent of the thousands of UR robots worldwide operate with no safety guarding (after risk assessment), right beside human operators. The safety system of our robots is approved and certified by TÜV (The German Technical Inspection Association).

Although cobots are sold as safe, they are only safe when they are removed from the box and nothing else has been done to them or they move as a standalone unit, with no restrictions or tooling on the end of the arm. To ensure any cobot application remains safe in terms of end of arm tooling, speeds and any other consideration that may bring harm to a human, guidelines on safety must be adhered to. ISO guidelines such as ISO/TS 15066:2016 specifies safety requirements for collaborative industrial robot systems and the work environment and supplements the requirements and guidance on collaborative industrial robot operation given in ISO 10218‑1 and ISO 10218‑2.

This said, by carrying out a good risk assessment, it is possible to still maintain advantages of the cobot, by including simple devices such as scanners. By installing these onto the cobot, and directly wiring signals into the cobots dual redundancy safety system, the cobot speed can be switched to a high-speed system, but revert to full collaborative mode should an operator enter an area that is deemed unsafe by the risk assessment carried out.

 

Cost-Effective

With the average cost of a cobot equating to the same as costs to employ one operator for a year, the return in investment begins to look attractive. Changing the operation of the cobot to three shifts would effectively provide a return on investment within the first quarter of the year it was purchased. Therefore in many cases cobots for machine loading etc. can be much more cost effective.

 

Fast Delivery and Setup

With a combined delivery and install period of around two weeks, this is likely to be one of the fastest robotic install periods possible, allowing manufacturers to install automation quickly now and for the future.

Where many companies before thought that automation would be too expensive, the consideration for cobots may have to be revisited. SP Elements – Cobot Solutions have the expertise to help guide both new and existing customers through the cobot purchase, both from a commercial as well as the technical side of the solution.

 

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