What is a Cobot? Complete 2023 Guide
Have you ever wondered what a cobot is?
You might have come across this term “cobots” while searching for a solution to improve your production processes but weren’t quite sure what the term referred to. As you’ve probably noticed yourself, cobots are trending more and more in the industry but this technology is still relatively unknown amongst most.
In a nutshell, cobots, also called collaborative robots, are robots designed to work alongside humans in order to boost manufacturing productivity while reducing production costs as well.
That’s the short version.
Now you might be wondering the ins and outs of cobots and why such a solution could be of interest to you.
In this guide, we’ll go over all of this in detail. We’ll explore the different types of cobots, their benefits, and how they compare to industrial robots so that you can become better acquainted with this new technology and can then decide if it’s the right solution for you.
Let’s dig in!
What are cobots?
As their names suggest, cobots are robots designed to work collaboratively with human workers.
Cobots, similar to traditional robots, also have one or multiple arms with multiple degrees of freedom allowing them to perform complex tasks.
The main difference is that unlike standard industrial robots that are often kept in cages and operate separately from human workers, cobots are meant to work side by side with humans without any physical boundaries. Also, compared to industrial robots, they are programmed to operate at lower speeds and with less ”torque strength”, making them safer to use in parallel to human workers.
Indeed, industrial robots are often used for larger sized tasks that require bigger installations to fulfill the technical requirements in terms of payload, speed and reach for optimal production workflows. This is why to ensure the safety of the workplace, these robots are guarded by cages to avoid any injuries with any surrounding workers.
To come back to cobots, this is why these cobotic solutions are becoming more and more popular among companies due to the flexibility they offer in the workplace. Indeed, cobots are a great solution to speed up the production processes by eliminating repetitive and physically intensive tasks allowing your workforce to focus on more demanding tasks.
Also, these robots are very versatile and can quickly be relocated to another part of your production process. ndeed, compared to larger complex solutions such as traditional robots, cobots are quick to reprogram, lightweight to move around and can easily be relocated as necessary. This is where their collaborative nature really stands out!
It’s also important to note, that thanks to their intuitive programming features, cobots are a great solution for small and medium sized businesses. This means smaller teams can get their hands on a cobotic solution without cutting too far into their budget.
When it comes to use cases, similarly to traditional robots, cobots can be used for a wide range of applications and industries. These can range from anywhere from “larger type” manufacturing tasks all the way to very precise quality inspection tasks. We’ll cover some of these applications & industries later on in this guide.
But for now let’s move on and cover some of the main key benefits of this technology and how it might benefit you.
Benefits of collaborative robots
Collaborative robots offer several benefits that make them a very attractive option for businesses looking to modernize their production processes. Let’s cover some of these key benefits together.
Here are the main benefits cobots have to offer:
- Increase in productivity : Cobots can work alongside humans effectively, increasing the efficiency of your manufacturing processes.
This means businesses can produce more products in less time, increasing profits and growth.
Cobots can relieve workers from repetitive jobs, freeing up your workforce to concentrate on more difficult and important activities.
- Improved safety : Cobots allow you to increase the production of your manufacturing process without sacrificing the safety of your workspace.
Indeed, cobots are designed to work safely in collaboration with other human beings.
- Saved costs : Cobots are generally much less expensive than traditional industrial robots.
The first reason is simply because of their smaller size.
Next, as they take up less space on the floor (Smaller footprint) and are very simple to integrate into existing production lines, this eliminates the need for pricey integrations and workspace upgrades.
- Improved accuracy : Compared to humans, cobots can perform tasks with a high degree of accuracy and precision, resulting in higher quality products.
Additionally, they can be configured to perform quality checks and inspections, ensuring products meet the required standards.
- Use case flexibility : Cobots can be quickly and easily reprogrammed to perform different tasks, enabling teams to adapt to ever changing production needs and requirements.
This flexibility sets cobots apart from traditional industrial robots, which are often designed to perform a specific task or operation and are less adaptable to changing circumstances.
- Improved job satisfaction : Cobots can minimize physical and mental strain on human workers due to the elimination of repetitive and monotonous tasks, which can lead to improved morale and job satisfaction.
Overall this combination keeps the activities of the workspace interesting and motivating for workers resulting in higher outputs of work due to a favorable work environment resulting in a win-win scenario for everyone.
These benefits are just a few examples of how cobots can help businesses optimize their production processes. But as you can see, cobots are a great way for your business to stay competitive in today's fast-paced and constantly evolving market.
Now that we’ve covered the benefits of cobots, let’s go over the different types of cobots that exist on the market.
Different types of cobots
Just like traditional robots, cobots also come in multiple variations. As mentioned above, all cobots are simply a variation of a robot with a single or multiple arm allowing them to execute different manufacturing tasks with the key difference of them being “collaborative” by design.
Also, as a rule, unlike some robots that are mobile, all cobots are static but still offer the ability of being relocated seamlessly. Sometimes, cobots can be mounted on a mobile frames such as an AGV, allowing even more flexibility and mobility around your workspace.
When it comes to differentiating cobots, the main key difference to note between each type is the number of degrees (Axes) of freedom the cobot arm has. These degrees of freedom (DOF) will determine the level of complexity of the tasks the cobot will be able to perform.
When buying a cobotic solution, the number of axes is fixed and cannot be changed, this is why you need to correctly choose which solution you need exactly upfront. The key idea to keep in mind is that the more degrees of freedom the collaborative robot arm has, more flexibility you will get, the complexer the tasks you can do.
Of course, each solution has its advantages. Let’s cover a few solutions that exist.
These cobots are the latest cobotic technology on the market. Indeed, until recently, cobots only had a maximum of 6 axes making the 7 axis a considerable improvement on the previous existing solutions.
With a 7 axis robot you get access to all the regular movements of a 6 axis robot , this includes moving on all X-Y-Z axes and turning around each axis. But now with this new additional 7 axis, manufacturers can now perform even complexer tasks, tasks that other robots, such as the 6 axis and below, fall short to.
Here at Kassow we saw the growing need of our customers for this additional axis and have now become a pioneer and leading company on this new 7 axis technology. Feel free to check out our 7 axis cobot arm and get in contact for a personalised demo to see how this solution could help you streamline your production and reduce costs.
Until recently, these cobots have been the most popular solution on the market. As their names suggest, these robots have six axes of movement, including X, Y, Z while rotating on each axis.
For most regular needs, 6-axis robot solutions are viable solutions. Unfortunately though, for some higher end tasks, they will fall short due to the missing 7th degree of freedom allowing you to go that one step further.
It’s important to note that with the growing awareness of the existence of the 7 axis robots, it’s clear to say that the market’s focus is starting to shift more and more towards the 7-axis cobots due to the very similar price points both solutions offer and the key added benefit of the 7th axis.
Cobots VS industrial robots
Cobots and industrial robots are both widely used in manufacturing for multiple types of applications. While both types of robots have their own advantages, there are some key differences to consider when choosing between them. Let’s take a closer look at the core features of cobots vs industrial robots, and why you should choose one solution over the other depending on your needs.
Cobots are perfect for tasks that call for close collaboration with human workers due to the fact they are made to work side by side with humans. These robots are perfectly safe to work within a close environment with people thanks to their integrated safety features.
Also, thanks to their lightweight and compact design, cobots present a small footprint making these robots a great solution for businesses that have limited room in the workspace.
Cobots are simpler solutions to integrate into a workspace due to their smaller footprint and intuitive programming. This makes the upfront installation costs less costly than a traditional industrial robot setup.
When it come to indsutrial robots, the main difference is they are typically larger and more “powerful” than cobots in terms of payloads and operation speeds, which is why they are better suited for heavy-duty tasks. Due to them being used for heavy duty tasks, industrial robots are always protected by a cage separating them from human workers in order to ensure a safe work environment.
When it comes to costs, industrial robots are often much more expensive than cobots due to them being bigger in size and their need for intensive installation steps which are often very costly. On the other hand, if you are in need of a solution capable of very heavy duty tasks with high payload capacities and very fast paced production speeds, all while being independent from your workforce, an industrial robot will probably be the best choice for you.
In summary, if you need a solution that can work in tandem with your workforce while performing very precise tasks and while maintaining a moderately elevated production speed, a cobot will be the best solution for you.
If you are interested in a cobot solution, check out our range of 5 cobots we have to offer here at Kassow Robots. These cobots offer different functionalities in terms of payload, reach and speed fitting your every need when it comes to optimizing your production processes.
Industry uses cases
Let’s briefly cover a few robotic industry use cases cobots can be used for. It’s important to note that every industry has its own way of using cobots, but there is always something to learn from every industry player.
Here are 5 of the top industries that are harnessing the power of cobotics:
- Metal robots : In this industry cobots can play a key role in performing repetitive and dangerous tasks that are too difficult or unsafe for humans. Cobots can be used to cut, bend, and weld metals with incredible precision and speed.
- Pharmaceutical robots : Pharmaceutical robots are used in a variety of pharmaceutical manufacturing processes. Here, the key advantages of cobots is their ability to perform with high accuracy certain tasks ensuring a tight quality assurance.
- Aerospace robots : Robotics have played a key role in ensuring quality control for aerospace parts that require very fine results in terms of finish. Cobots also play an excellent role in fulfilling the precise manufacturing requirements aerospace presents.
- Food robots : Cobots have also been adopted by the food industry. Cobots can perform tasks such as packaging and quality inspection. They are also capable of farming tasks like planting and harvesting crops.
Application use cases
Next, let’s briefly cover a few robotic application use cases cobots can be used for.
Here are a few of the most common application use cases:
- Welding robots : Welding robots are used in the manufacturing industry to perform welding tasks with speed and precision. These machines are capable of delivering different types of welding finishes such as TIG, MIG and arc welding.
- Packaging robots : Packaging robots are used to place goods into boxes, bags, or other containers. These robots can pack things far quicker than humans can, and they can handle a variety of product shapes and sizes with ease.
- Dispensing robots : Dispensing robots are often used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetics, and food industries to dispense precise amounts of liquid or powder. These robots are excellent for use in laboratories or for research and development because of their high accuracy and ability to distribute small volumes.
- Quality inspection robots : Quality inspection robots are used to inspect products for defects and other issues. These robots have the ability to detect and identify product defects such as scratches or dents far quicker and with higher precision than humans can. Quality inspection robots are commonly used in the automotive, electronics, and food industries.
- Cutting robots : Cutting robots are used to perform high precision cuts and at high speeds. These robots have the ability to produce cuts that meet quality standards at a much faster rate than a human could.
What is a cobot used for?
A cobot is a “collaborative robot” used to work alongside humans in a shared workspace.
These cobots are often used for tasks that require high degrees of precision and accuracy or are simply used to streamline repetitive and monotonous tasks.
Can a cobot weld?
Yes, cobots can perform welding tasks. It’s important to add, that unlike a human worker they can do so with a high degree of accuracy too.
How do cobots work with humans?
Cobots are made to cooperate with people in the same workspace. To detect human presence and adapt their actions, these robots have sensors and other safety measures preventing them from harming workers.
The great benefit of cobots is that they are extremely simple to program. This makes integrating cobots into your assembly line a very simple and quick process to do.
Are cobots the future?
Yes, it’s clear to say that cobots are the future due to them becoming increasingly popular in many industries.
Indeed, with their ability to work alongside humans and automate monotonous chores, cobots are expected to play a big role in enhancing productivity and efficiency in the future.
Are cobots cheaper than robots?
Generally speaking, cobots are cheaper than traditional robots, even though the price may vary based on the model and size. The main reason is due to the size of a cobot compared to an industrial robot which is often far larger.
It’s important to note that cobots are also quicker and easier to install and program compared to industrial robots, which can help cut installation expenses overall.
Interested in this solution?
Now that you have a good overview of what a cobot is you might be wondering if this solution is for you or not.
The answer to that question will always depend on your current and future needs. The best solution is to lay out your processes and identify which solution works best for you.
Here at Kassow we work with a wide range of robotic integrator partners all over the world that help businesses seamlessly integrate cobots into their manufacturing processes. Feel free to get in contact with us so that we can put you in relation with a trusted partner that knows exactly how to optimize your workflow saving you costs while increasing your production output.
By combining the help of a trusted partner and our wide range of cobot solutions, we can help you find the perfect solution for your needs!
Interested in our solution?
Contact our sales to get more information about our cobot series and request a personalised demo.