When Do You Need a Cobot?

If you work in the packaging or manufacturing industries you already know the benefits of industrial robots. Automated industrial machinery is faster, more efficient, and more consistent than any human worker, making it clear why you would need an industrial robot in your factory. It’s not always clear, however, why you would need a collaborative robot, or a cobot.

Sure, everybody wants a cobot. Who wouldn’t love to send a goofy little robot on coffee runs throughout the day. Want and need are very different things, however. While it might be charming to have an automated office assistant, it doesn’t make sense to shell out thousands of dollars on a party trick. So when does it actually make sense to get a collaborative robot?

Collaborative robots reside in a strange realm. They aren’t nearly as fast or as capable as industrial robots, but they are more affordable and safe enough to be used alongside human workers. Not only are cobots not as capable as industrial robots, they aren’t even as capable as human workers when it comes to most tasks.

Three packaging automation experts were interviewed in an article from Packaging Digest about when it makes sense to have a cobot. Here’s what they had to say.

  • Cobots are useful when interactions between robots and humans can accelerate. The combination of human and robot interaction can have a more significant gain than a human or robot interacting independently.
  • It also makes sense to have cobots in place when there is a task that could be improved by human-robot interaction. Cobots are better suited for low-weight payloads and situations where flexibility is important. This is big advantage over industrial robots.
  • They can be programmed and reprogrammed quickly and affordably. This is another area in which collaborative robots provide an advantage over traditional industrial robots.

Since cobots are in a strange realm, they create an opportunity for optimization in an area that could not be optimized before. Collaborative robots aren’t for everyone, but they certainly do have practical applications.