A plug-and-play approach to cobot development enables collaborative robots to be used more widely for manufacturing, quality control and distribution tasks

Pervasion of the cobots W

hand (or end-effecter) with some of the more complex tasks. When manufacturers can’t staff tasks on their

production lines, it severely affects the bottom line resulting in drastic increases in overtime, cycle time and downtime. With the underlying US unemployment rate having been at 3.5 per cent before the coronavirus crisis, the lowest in 50 years, with 10,000 experienced employees retiring every day and few millennials interested in joining manufacturing, companies are increasingly looking at automation to solve production challenges. Such an environment signals the beginning of

the Cobot era when the technology starts to become more pervasive in tackling ergonomically unfavourable, repetitive and even technically complex tasks that manufacturers can’t staff.

FAST PALLETISING An example of the way cobots are being used in fast-paced, complex distribution systems at manufacturing plants is the Columbia/Okura miniPAL, a mobile palletising product powered by the Universal Robots UR10e cobot arm. The flexible miniPAL with a low footprint can palletise at two pallet locations for optimised operations. The latest design includes two safety mats and

two area scanners that detect when people enter the work envelope. This means that the system can be used in cobot or robot modes, allowing it to meet even higher operating speeds when not in collaborative mode, when it needs to account for the presence of a human workforce. The system simply plugs into a wall socket, can be set up in less than a day and delivers an average payback period of between eight and 10 months. According to Brian Hutton, president of

Columbia/Okura, the partnership between Columbia/Okura and Universal Robots allows the two companies to provide a safe and economical palletising system to clients who are facing workforce shortages, many of whom may also be new to factory automation. “With the introduction of a collaborative

palletiser, employees can be reassigned to work on higher value, less strenuous and more

22 /// Testing & Test Houses /// April 2020

complex tasks where their time and skills are better served,” he says.

AUGMENTED REALITY QUALITY CONTROL Many manufacturers are still using hand tools like calipers, micrometers or height gauges for parts measurement, causing consistency problems. While some have started to use 3D scanners, they have lacked the measurement tools to go with them. “In recent years we’ve seen businesses try to

automate metrology, and it takes a long time – anywhere from 6-12 months or more to implement, which negatively impacts a business,” says Rohit Khanna, president of automated inspection systems specialist 3D Infotech. The innovative UMA inspection and quality

control station is a semi-automated inspection system driven by 3D Infotech’s Streamline software.

ith severe labour shortages being experienced in the manufacturing industry, particularly in the USA, collaborative robots (cobots) are becoming more sought after to lend a

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52