Collaborative robots, also known as cobots, are designed to physically interact with humans in a shared workspace. Though relatively new to the scene, cobots are quickly growing to become an efficient and cost effective member of many different business teams. While some people worry that cobots are taking away jobs from happily employed workers, the nature of cobots is to work with humans in a complementary role in order to complete their objectives more efficiently. Collaborative robotics systems have been utilized in the automotive manufacturing industry for years, but only became readily available to other industries in 2014. From there, cobots’ usage has grown by more than 13% in the manufacturing industry and another 15% say they plan to employ collaborative robots within the next year. Cobots are the way of the future, and will help to change the environments of all industries.
One of the biggest advantages to incorporating cobots into your business is their low cost to large improvement ratio. One of the most popular cobots on the market, the Teradyne/Universal Robots’ UR5, is sold for around $35,000 and is representative of the average collaborative robot in today’s market. According to Universal Robots’ website, after three to four months of use you can expect to see a payback from your initial investment in their robot. The UR5 “takes over the tasks that none of the staff will miss doing.” One of its greatest features is a system so easy to use that the employees themselves can reprogram the robot to work however it is needed. While $35,000 may sound like a large investment, to be able to recoup the costs in less than half a year is a huge advantage, even to a smaller business owner.
Universal Robots (Teradyne) UR5 cobot
If the addition of cobots into your business seems overwhelming, keep in mind they are often very easy to integrate into your already existing business. They are not only easy to use for employees, but also provide a safer option for employees by eliminating user error. Universal Robots offers users patented technology that allows operators with no programming experience to quickly set up and operate their cobots with intuitive 3D visualization. Each unit comes with a touch screen tablet where you can move the robot arm to the desired waypoints or use arrow keys to direct it.
Cobots are currently in a huge growth period and that means there is a large market entry right now by a diverse field of players. The collaborative robotics industry is in a massive boom presently and there are companies sprouting up all over the globe to fill the needs. Obviously, countries like Japan hold a large market share, but you may be surprised to hear that Germany, Switzerland, and the US also include several big players while some South Korean companies have recently joined the fray. Between now and 2023 the market is expected to make a 56.94% growth driven by high return of investment (ROI) rates and the low price of cobots is leading to growing attraction from small and medium enterprises (SMEs). With such high demands to fill, the market entry of new companies is growing at an accelerated rate.
Cobots allow companies to maintain their costs and in some cases even lower them without breaking the bank. As mentioned earlier, the average cost of a cobot is around $35,000 and once the initial investment is made there are limited future costs built into the robot. You don’t have to pay a cobot, so that eliminates a consistent cost – though the cobot will probably require maintenance occasionally this is something you would need all the time. Your initial investment is minimal and the continual costs in cobots are less than you would think making them a cost effective solution to your manufacturing needs.
With the forecasted growth more than doubling the collaborative robotics industry within the next six years, you can expect to see cobots joining even the most unconventional businesses in a positive way. Cobots are the equivalent of the PC in the Cyberphysical Age we’re living in currently. The same way PCs helped to streamline and improve processes in the management of data for businesses and individuals, we can expect the cobot to provide similar innovations for many different groups. As technology improves, the cost effectiveness of cobots will only continue to increase and become a standard practice within many industries, especially manufacturing. The robotic age science fiction authors dreamed of in the 20th century is here, and will only continue to grow in the coming years.