Your New Coworker: The Collaborative Robot

I don’t think it is a surprise that technology evolves each day. We all know a new version of our cell phones is released each year due to this very reason. The fourth industrial revolution is in full swing and thanks to these advances, technology can help manufacturers become more competitive and successful.
One way for manufacturers to move forward is by adding a collaborative robot (cobot) into their workflow. These robots are meant to be added to your team and are not meant to replace current staff. Cobots can fill high-turnover, repetitive and lower-skilled jobs so that team members can focus on more complex and exciting tasks.
The first step in exploring cobots is understanding the differences between collaborative robots, industrial robots and automated mobile robots. By knowing the different functions and purposes of each type of robot, you will be able to determine what best fits your needs.
  • Collaborative robots: Intended for direct human-robot interaction with shared space focusing on repetitive tasks.
  • Industrial robots: Robot system that is automated, programmable and capable of movement on three or more axes.
  • Automated mobile robots: A robot that can move through its environment without being overseen or limited to a fixed, predetermined path.
In addition to knowing the differences in available robotics, it is essential to choose the right equipment for the application you wish to automate. What is the best type of gripper to hold your part? What is the best way to present your parts to the robot? How will this robot communicate with other pieces of equipment? These are just a few things to consider when beginning the process.
Adding automation to your company has many benefits. However, these benefits will only be realized if you understand what and how to implement the technology. This can be a daunting task, as these robots are still new to many of us. Programming cobots is very easy and is no longer the biggest obstacle to bringing this skill in-house. Therefore, it is crucial to train and educate yourself and your staff on how to build a system around the cobot.
Automation has a plethora of benefits for manufacturers of all sizes. Cobots have a fast ROI and can be quickly adopted into production. Other benefits of cobots include:
  • Increased production
    • Cobots do not need to take lunch breaks and can run after normal production hours.
  • Small footprint
    • Since cobots do not require fencing for safety, they take up much less floor space which is beneficial to older manufacturers who cannot move around equipment.
  • Fills talent gaps
    • Have a position you can’t seem to fill? The cobot will gladly do the job. It likes boring, repetitive tasks.
  • Increased morale
    • New technology can energize your staff to want to learn something new. Technology can also be the key to attracting a younger workforce.
The Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center) is here to help you find the right automation to fit your business goals. Our new course, Introduction to Collaborative Robots, is a great start to learning more about what we discussed above. In addition, our Industry 4.0 experts can come to your facility for a free Technology Opportunity Assessment to see where automation could benefit your company. Contact us today to schedule one.
MEET OUR EXPERT: Robert Scipione, Applications Engineer
Scipione_R-web.jpgBob Scipione is an Applications Engineer at The Center. In his role, Bob facilitates the transfer of knowledge in Smart Manufacturing Technologies to small and mid-sized manufacturers and assists with their Industry 4.0 implementations and strategies. He brings nine years of experience in manufacturing control system design and software development. Bob has worked as both Installation Engineer and Senior Controls Engineer where he gained experience in robotic systems testing and installation, software engineering and integrating new hardware components to existing software.
Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

Categories: Advanced Manufacturing, Industry 4.0, Innovation, Manufacturing, Smart Technology, Technology