Are cobots the future of workforces?
With the current advancements in computing and robotic technology, should we expect to see more robots in our businesses?
What are cobots?
Cobots are collaborative robots. These robots are created using the most up-to-date technology and robotic systems, allowing them to work safely and effectively alongside humans in the workplace. They are also easy to programme and fast to set up.
Why are cobots used?
Cobots are designed to do multiple things which include:
- Hand guiding – where the cobot can pick up and move objects
- Power force limiting – which allows cobots to manoeuvre or stop if they sense humans or objects nearby to avoid collisions
- Safety monitored stop – which ensures the cobot stops if a human has entered the safety zone and will commence once the human has left
Cobots in the workplace have multiple benefits on both businesses and their employees.
For employers, cobots can help to fill staff shortages in the labour market. This gap can be caused by loss of temporary workers or high staff turnover due to the nature of the job role. Cobots can automate dull or repetitive jobs, allowing humans to complete more complex tasks. This can have a positive effect on efficiency and staff morale, as people feel more valuable to the business.
For employees, robots taking over less desirable job roles can result in an increase in higher-level roles that are available. For example, more Robot Programmer or Engineer roles. Due to advancements in robotic technology, working with cobots is safer than ever, they now have sensor and vision technology that enables them to adjust their speed or stop to ensure they do not collide or cause injury.
Where are cobots being used?
Currently, cobots are commonly found in warehouses, and production and manufacturing companies. There are a couple of examples of how cobots are being used:
eCommerce: Some online businesses that operate out of a warehouse use cobots to collect products from the shelves, which are then brought back to the stationary employee, who will then prepare the order for shipping. This is beneficial for the company as it reduces errors with orders, and increases efficiency and productivity.
Assembly lines: Cobots are being used more and more on assembly lines, helping factory workers put together products, such as cars, faster and more accurately. This again, increases efficiency and minimises human error. It also improves employee’s occupational health and well-being as cobots can lift and install heavy parts, reducing the risk of injury or repetitive strain.
So, are cobots the future of workforces?
The answer is, more than likely! Cobot sales currently make up just 3% of global robot sales, with this percentage predicted to increase to 34% by 2025.
Due to the low cost of collaborative robots, we can expect to see them not only in large companies but also in small to medium companies. The intention is not for cobots to replace humans and their jobs, but to work collaboratively with employees to increase productivity, efficiency, and customer and business value.