Big manufacturers are the biggest winners when it comes to traditional industrial robotics. They have used robots to streamline production and increase revenues for years albeit at the expense of thousands of workers. That aside, we are now in the age of collaborative robotics.
Who will benefit the most with the emergence and growing popularity of collaborative robots?
A brief cobot primer
Everyone has been talking about the age of collaborative robots and how robots working alongside humans will define industry 4.0. Perhaps these statements can give a hint to those who are still in the dark about collaborative robotics.
In the simplest terms, one would describe collaborative robots as a new type of robot that can work alongside a human complementing them and helping them perform repetitive tasks. The key difference between traditional robots and collaborative robots is their ability to work in close proximity and as an extension of a human worker. However, there are applications where collaborative robots can be set to work independent of a human either individually or as part of a robot “swarm”.
The following will be the biggest winners as collaborative robots take root in the next few years:
1. Individual experts and innovators
Unlike traditional robots that need complex setups, insurance and licensing, collaborative robots are readily available for everyone. Want injection molding robots for that polymer project you’ve been mulling over? Just place an order with a Cobot manufacturer and it will be delivered to your doorstep.
Due to their availability and cost, collaborative robots will curve a new market among individual experts and innovators across the world. Anyone working on a personal project that could do with some robotic assistance will find collaborative robots quite convenient.
2. Startups (manufacturing, machining, food production, etc.)
Rapid prototyping has always been a competitive advantage for large businesses. They can use their immense automation resources to knock out several prototypes while startups rely on leased equipment or outsourcing. Small and affordable collaborative robots will definitely level the playing field on this aspect as startups will afford their robotic solutions as they move towards full production.
3. Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises
It’s an open secret that small businesses have always gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to automation. Robot manufacturers couldn’t see any value in creating automation solutions that could cater for those in small production. A majority of medium-sized enterprises also struggled to acquire these automation solutions unless they merged with other businesses or borrowed heavily.
The rise of affordable collaborative robots will make it possible for SMEs to dip their fingers into the automation sauce. There is no doubt that SMEs will be the biggest winners as collaborative robots become mainstream and more available. Signs of this happening are everywhere you look as small machining shops; food producers and manufacturers buy invest in collaborative robot solutions.
4. Skilled workers and artisans
Collaborative robots are designed to perform repetitive, hazardous and low-skill tasks like picking and sorting objects, placing items, scanning, labelling, among others. This means that skilled workers will have their tasks significantly reduced allowing them to be more productive with their time.
Artisans will benefit from the endless capabilities that collaborative robots come with. With the appropriate end of arm tooling, artisans can program their collaborative robot arm to do all manner of tasks including machining, engraving, drawing, molding, painting objects etc.
Sophisticated software packages and imaging systems in some of the collaborative robots available today open a new innovation dimension for experts and artisans to explore. Creating perfect and standard products will become easier as well.
There is every reason to be excited about collaborative robots if you are among those who will benefit from them. New Cobot arms and end of arm tooling will continue to open new application areas for collaborative robot users. Are you excited about collaborative robots?