Job-stealing Collaborative Robots (Cobots) are the worst nightmare for most workers. But not all robots are out to steal your job. Some make your life easier by collaborating and working alongside you. One thing is sure: Regarding digital transformation, the aspect has emerged as a critical driver for achieving long-term business success in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape.
Today, some companies use a Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) — a direct communication pathway — to read and transfer human brain signals to robots. Equally important, other companies using these Cobots often combine their efforts and integrate them with other technologies, such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Software or Industrial IoT (IIoT) Solutions for smooth operations.
But Cobots can barely operate independently or outright replace workers. Instead, they help humans perform better with precision, strength, and data capabilities. The result is improved collaboration between robots and humans. Many industries are also moving toward Cobot technology integration thanks to Industry 4.0, its complementary Industry 5.0, and other related revolutions.
In this blog, we’ll embark on a journey to explore the intricacies of digital transformation through Collaborative Robots (Cobots) and their profound impact on shaping the future of businesses. On that note, join us as we unravel the key elements, strategies, and benefits of embracing digital change for unlocking unprecedented growth and ensuring sustained success in the modern age.
Understanding What Collaborative Robots (Cobots) Are In Digital Transformation
Collaborative Robots (Cobots) are computer-controlled robotic devices. They work side-by-side with employees in a shared workspace to enhance human abilities safely. Unlike traditional industrial robots, they have sensors to guarantee safe behavior during human-robot interactions. Companies using collaborative robots often use cobots in combination with other advanced technologies.
In other words, Collaborative Robots (Cobots) are a form of robotic technology and automation tools built to work safely alongside human workers in a shared, collaborative workspace. Cobots are responsible for repetitive, menial tasks in most applications, while a human worker completes more complex and thought-intensive tasks. As such, there’s accuracy, uptime, and repeatability.
The other interactive technologies include robotic process automation (RPA) software or industrial IoT (IIoT) solutions for smooth operations. Equally important, these collaborative robots or cobots help workforces reduce human errors, boost productivity, and perform efficiently. For example, these robots can transport heavy materials in a building or automate assembly operations.
Technically, since cobots are computer-controlled robotic devices, they work side-by-side with human employees in a shared workspace to enhance human abilities. They co-exist in the same facility as humans because they can mimic human actions without compromising safety or performance. Unlike industrial robots, their sensors guarantee security during human-robot interactions.
How Collaborative Robots Vs. Industrial Robots Differ In Their Operations
Regarding their workability, torque sensors measure the mechanical torque at the rotational joint on a cobot. As a result, this helps detect faults or overload conditions and prevents injuries and potential mechanical failures. In most cases, slotless BLDC motors are the right choice for various cobot material processing tools and attachments such as claws, grippers, and articulating appendages.
Their Sensor Technology allows cobots to detect if any abnormal force has been applied to the robot arm while in operation. The force sensors will then adjust the operation speed to slow or completely stop, protecting the human operator from impacting the robot. On that note, they offer operations flexibility for fluctuating work environments that traditional robots can’t match.
The main difference is that cobots feature built-in skills to work with humans, whereas traditional industrial robots work in place of humans. Because of their human-like intelligence, companies using cobots experience faster reaction time and accurate automation. Many consider cobots the hardware version of augmented intelligence because of their assistive role in aiding human employees.
Thus, Collaborative Robots complement a human worker’s intelligence and problem-solving skills. Technically, their designs differ significantly from their industrial robot counterparts. Featuring rounded edges, force limitations, and light weights, collaborative robots are, first and foremost, designed for safety. Below is a summary of their most notable differences for your understanding.
On the one hand, cobots are fixed robotic arms that you can reprogram for different jobs. They also adjust well to changes because of their learning abilities. The pre-engineered designs and algorithms of cobots are great for producing customized outputs in minimum time. Built-in force controls and sensors allow them to work with humans without the need for safety fencing.
On the other hand, collaborative robots are also lighter and smaller, making them the perfect candidate for introducing automation at your facility. But it would help if you didn’t neglect safety and risk assessments before using them. Industries leverage cobots with multi-axis manipulators to automate industrial processes and operations.
Generally, most traditional (industrial) robots perform high-payload and high-speed jobs while maintaining the same quality level. In most cases, they remain stationary and are ideal for processes unlikely to change in the long run. Manufacturing industry players use traditional industrial robots for heavy manufacturing or production processes that require higher accuracy.
Unfortunately, industrial robots usually lack force control capabilities. So, they may not be suitable for processes that need varying degrees of sensitivity, such as those involving human contact. Facilities with industrial robots use safety barriers like protective cages to provide a safe working environment for humans. Still, creating these safety systems can be time-consuming and costly.
How Collaborative Robots (Cobots) Empower Digital Business Transformation
In layman’s language, the role of Collaborative Robots (Cobots) in digital transformation has become imperative for organizations seeking to thrive in the digital age. By embracing the power of technology, leveraging innovative solutions, and adopting a strategic and customer-centric approach, businesses can unlock new opportunities, drive growth, and stay ahead of the competition.
For example, most cobots are equipped with sensors to avoid collisions with human workers and safety protocols to shut down if unplanned contact occurs. In today’s competitive business landscape, the essence of revolution cannot be overstated. This heading sets the stage for understanding the significance of embracing modern processes in achieving optimal business success.
This era has brought unprecedented opportunities and challenges, urging organizations to adapt and embrace transformational changes. Generally speaking, digital transformation encompasses a strategic shift in leveraging technology to revolutionize business processes, enhance customer experiences, and foster innovation. Take, for instance, how ALGORYC is empowering this revolution.
In particular, it’s achieving this with its innovative solutions and expertise. Notwithstanding, by integrating Collaborative Robots (Cobots), it has become a leading provider in the digital transformation space—this can help businesses navigate the complexities of the digital age and achieve their transformation goals. But there are still other notable spaces where Cobots can help.
1. Growth Opportunities And Challenges
To embark on a successful revolution journey, it is crucial to grasp the digital landscape and its underlying opportunities and challenges. Technologies present many possibilities, from streamlining operations and enhancing customer experiences to unlocking new revenue streams and improving decision-making. Simultaneously, given the significance of some technologies, we address other challenges organizations may encounter, such as complexities, organizational resistance to change, and cybersecurity concerns. By understanding the modern landscape holistically, businesses can chart a strategic course for their revolutionary endeavors.
2. Strategic Planning And Leadership
Of course, a solid foundation is critical to any successful revolution initiative. Strategic planning and strong leadership are essential in driving the digital transformational journey. On that note, with the help of advanced technologies, organizations can quickly move ahead of the curve. For instance, they can establish a clear vision, set measurable goals, and align their transformation efforts with their business strategy. Additionally, it’s essential to consider the critical role of leadership in fostering a culture of innovation, driving change management, and championing modern initiatives. By laying a solid technology-driven foundation, organizations can overcome obstacles and steer their revolutionary initiatives toward long-term success.
3. System Tools And Technologies
Technological enablers form the backbone of digital transformation, empowering organizations to leverage cutting-edge tools and technologies to drive innovation and achieve business success. However, there is still a need to understand the transformative potential of critical technologies such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, data analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and automation. Furthermore, some technologies can revolutionize business processes, enhance operational efficiency, and enable personalized customer experiences. By embracing these technological enablers, organizations can unlock new opportunities, optimize their operations, and gain a competitive edge in the digital landscape
4. Business Intelligence Automation
To enumerate, Business intelligence (BI) is the automated capability for organizations to make better decisions, take informed actions, and implement more efficient business processes. Typically, BI tools present information on user-friendly dashboards and data visualizations that graph and chart key metrics. While previously a function of tech or IT teams that required specialized expertise, modern business intelligence tools bring data and predictive analytics capabilities into the hands of the decision-makers. At the same time, it allows them to develop reports and gain specific business insights. Traditionally, business intelligence has focused on descriptive and diagnostic reporting of historical and current business activities.
5. End-to-End Business Transformation
Business transformation isn’t a solely process-centric effort anymore. Instead, it’s a truly resilient and self-improving enterprise that takes automation to all business areas—from operations to people, culture, and systems integration—to guarantee its success over time. As the world has turned digital, technological business solutions continue evolving and opening unlimited business opportunities. With Robotic Process Automation (RPA), companies now rely on software robots to do the mundane work, increasing productivity and quality of delivered products and services.
Tips To Leverage Collaborative Robots (Cobots) Digital Transformation Tools
This section focuses on outlining the essential strategies that are vital for achieving a successful digital transformation revolution. It highlights the actionable methods organizations can utilize to navigate the complexities of the modern landscape and drive their transformation initiatives forward. Considerably, there are also elements such as placing customers at the center of this journey.
By doing so, organizations can build strong relationships, drive loyalty, and differentiate themselves in a competitive market. Similarly, an agile methodology and adaptive culture are crucial in driving successful digital transformation. The significance of fostering a culture that embraces change, encourages innovation, and empowers employees to take risks is vital for business success.
Organizations can explore methodologies such as agile and design thinking, which enable organizations to iterate quickly, experiment with new ideas, and respond rapidly to market demands. By nurturing a culture that values continuous learning, collaboration, and creative problem-solving, organizations can foster a dynamic environment that thrives in the face of digital disruption.
Ultimately, we can not overlook the transformative role of artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms in driving successful digital transformation initiatives. On that note, various ways for harnessing AI technologies to optimize processes, enhance decision-making, and unlock new opportunities for optimal business growth exist. Some of these advanced tools help as follows.
1. Informed Data-Driven Decisions
Data has become the lifeblood of digital transformation, enabling organizations to make informed decisions and drive growth. Businesses need to understand the importance of data-driven decision-making and explore strategies for harnessing the power of data analytics. For instance, they can consider the role of advanced analytics techniques, such as predictive analytics and machine learning, in extracting actionable insights from large datasets. In addition, they must also comprehend the significance of data governance, privacy, and security. In particular, to ensure organizations can trust the data they rely on for strategic decision-making.
2. Intelligent Operations Automation
Intelligent automation powered by AI is revolutionizing business operations. The benefits of leveraging AI-driven automation tools and technologies are endless. For example, organizations can streamline repetitive tasks, improve efficiency, and reduce costs by implementing intelligent automation solutions. From Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to AI-powered eCommerce Chatbots, Payment Gateways, and virtual assistants, AI transforms traditional workflows. It also enables organizations to focus on higher-value activities.
3. Customer Experience Personalization
In most cases, AI empowers organizations to deliver personalized customer experiences at scale. AI-driven personalization techniques have a massive impact on customer engagement and satisfaction. AI algorithms can analyze customer data to generate insights, predict preferences, and deliver highly targeted and relevant content. From recommendation engines to personalized marketing campaigns, AI enables organizations to create meaningful connections with customers and drive loyalty.
4. Augmented Business Decisions Making
AI is revolutionizing decision-making by providing organizations with valuable insights and intelligence. As such, AI-powered analytics and cognitive technologies can enhance decision-making processes. It fosters the capabilities of AI algorithms to analyze complex datasets, identify patterns, and generate actionable insights in real-time. From predictive analytics to Natural Language Processing (NLP), organizations can leverage AI to make data-driven, informed decisions that drive business success.
5. Deep Learning Business Data Analytics
As mentioned, Business Intelligence (BI) refers to software capabilities that allow businesses to access, analyze, and develop actionable insights from data to make business decisions. The automated ability allows most organizations to make better decisions, take informed actions, and implement more efficient business processes. BI capabilities will enable you to collect up-to-date data from your organization. At the same time, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) for business intelligence use algorithms and deep learning techniques to analyze big data and discover patterns hidden within the data.
The Topmost Common Cobot Types, Brands, Tools, Benefits, And Challenges
By all means, you can easily and quickly program cobots using software and mobile applications provided by cobot manufacturers. Some cobots don’t need programming at all. These latest generations of cobots learn as you manually move them through different job steps. Once the cobot software records these positions, you can have cobots performing various tasks in no time.
First, creating safety systems using industrial robots can be time-consuming and costly. Secondly, reprogramming these traditional robots means dealing with complex codes and engineering to implement updates successfully. That’s where cobots come in. Cobots are the go-to robot for companies looking to automate routine work and redirect the workforce to more strategic tasks.
Markedly, one advantage of using cobots in the workplace is that a cobot is designed to work with people and not to replace people. Similarly, cobots are people-focused robots and can help people make and refine their work easier. At all costs, a collaborative robot can perform dirty, unsafe, dull, monotonous, or repetitive tasks so that employees can concentrate on other tasks.
Collaborative robots work well for companies that want to prioritize safety and minimize deployment costs while scaling operations. Plus, these organizations must facilitate human-robot collaborations in a way where human workers guide robots and track processes. According to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), collaborative robots can be of four types: as follows.
- Co-Existential: They work alongside humans in the same space with no direct overlap in the minutiae of their labor.
- Co-Operative: They operate alongside humans at the same time while working together towards the same task.
- Sequentially Collaborative: They work with humans but don’t simultaneously work on an identical product. These collaborative robots generally come before or after the human worker in the production sequence.
- Responsively Collaborative: They respond directly to human employees’ actions. These collaborative robots only operate insofar as they have a human executing more complicated tasks farther up the pipeline.
It’s also important to realize that there are three main types of robotic systems: manipulator arms, mobile robots, and stationary robots. Manipulator arms are the most common type of industrial robot. The simplest possible cobot is a unicycle—steered by a servo system acting under computer control—but moved by a human operator, offering flexibility for fluctuating work environments.
As a rule of thumb, collaborative robots are intended to work hand-in-hand with employees in a shared workspace to enhance human abilities safely. Cobots provide less risk to human safety in environments that require adaptability. These machines focus more on repetitive tasks, such as inspection and picking, to help workers focus more on tasks that require problem-solving skills.
- ABB Group
- Universal Robots
- Mitsubishi Electric Corporation
- Yaskawa Electric Corporation
- Doosan Robotics
- Neura Robotics
- KUKA AG
So, where do you start if you want to upgrade legacy systems with new technology and cobot solutions? The first step is to find processes suitable for cobots. Then, you can review production line constraints to develop the best layout design for robotic solutions. Some companies prefer to work with technology consultants or robot integrators to create an implementation plan.
Also, evaluate the pros and cons before investing in cobots. Check out the best Internet of Things (IoT) Services and cobot consulting solution providers to help you implement IoT strategies, hardware, and applications. All in all, cobots can seamlessly perform complex jobs because of the tools they use. Various cobot features enable them to collaborate with humans and do repetitive tasks.
- Grippers: Enable cobots to pick up things and put them down again.
- End-Of-Arm Tooling (EOAT): Scale production capacity by letting you mount tools to cobots.
- Tool Changers: Allow cobots to change tools autonomously per the needs of the operations they’re performing.
- Vision Systems: Rely on 2D/3D cameras and artificial intelligence to identify objects, spot patterns, or scan barcodes.
- Range Extenders: Enable cobots to increase their range on the X or Y-axis.
- Feeding Systems: Include devices that supply robots with objects like screws for assembly or other operations.
The robotic arm is the most essential component of a cobot application, and what makes it unique is its robot arm. A collaborative robot (cobot) can be utilized in many ways (10 cobot components – and how they can revolutionize your business). Other elements include accessories, palletizing tools, pick & place tools, sander/polisher, measuring sensors, end-of-arm tool changer, etc.
Depending on the collaborative nature between workers and other traditional robots, different industries use each of these cobots for a wide range of applications, more specifically, in a way that supports humans meaningfully. When done right, businesses and companies can enjoy various benefits with collaborative robots and cobot technology. But there are still a few notable drawbacks.
- Workplace Safety: Cobots reduce accidents by performing injury-prone tasks that can harm human workers. Plus, they come with built-in sensors to avoid collisions, guarantee passive compliance, and limit forces in case of unplanned human contact.
- Flexible Automation: Companies can assign collaborative robots to multiple processes without changing the production layout. This ease of conducting line change-overs makes your production facility agile and lowers automation costs.
- Seamless Deployment: Cobots come with in-built safety features. So, you don’t need to integrate them with industrial safety equipment before deployment. You can start using collaborative robots much faster than industrial robots.
- Unified Operation: Cobots don’t need a huge upfront investment, making them cheaper than their industrial counterparts. Plus, the number of tasks every robot automates gives you bottom-line returns in a few months.
- Limitless Mobility: You can quickly move around cobots for different jobs in case of labor shortage. Likewise, you can even mount them on mobile workbenches to perform jobs at hard-to-access locations.
- Cobots don’t replace human workers. Using cobots may enhance your production capacity, but not without human employees. For example, cobots can’t flag production abnormalities unless you program them to do so. You still need human workers for complex inspection processes and implementing strict product quality control.
- Choose cobots with behavioral designs. Cobots interact more with humans and the environment every day. So, choosing cobots that know how to behave appropriately around bystanders or co-workers is essential. Also, consider training and educating your staff about human-robot collaboration.
- Consider safety devices for fenceless operations. Cobots can both coexist and collaborate with humans. But it would help if you always considered integrating safety gear for fenceless robotics operations.
- Their optimal power capacity has limits. A disadvantage of a cobot is its limited power, speed, and scope. Most existing collaborative robots can only lift a max of 35 kg and must also move at a shallow speed to ensure safety.
As you can see, the benefits of collaborative robots outweigh their drawbacks. Cobots can come in handy for quality testing and inspection in many industries. For example, a robot can place objects in a testing device and sort them. Think about circuit boards or samples in a laboratory. Thanks to vision technology, there are also opportunities for a cobot to perform visual inspections.
Through the power of Collaborative Robots (Cobots), a customer-centric approach lies at the heart of a successful revolution. Luckily, our expertise in digital transformation and commitment to delivering impactful solutions stands as a trusted partner in this journey. With us on their side, organizations can navigate the complexities of the digital landscape and harness AI’s potential.
Plus, we can help improvise custom data mining methods, improve your AI Analytics strategy, and pave the way for long-term success. Join us as we embrace the digital transformation revolution. Together, we can embark on a path of innovation, agility, and business success with Algoryc as your guiding force. With that in mind, we’ve explored the importance of integrating Cobots today.
There is a need for organizations to navigate the transformative path and adapt to the evolving ecosystem. Throughout this section, we’ve explored the fundamental aspects of the modern revolution and how it can empower businesses to stay relevant, agile, and poised for growth in an increasingly digital world—at the same time, understanding user needs, preferences, and behaviors.
Businesses can understand this better by using collaborative robots to deliver personalized customer experiences and foster meaningful business engagement. Notwithstanding, we’ve already discussed several strategies for leveraging data analytics, AI, and customer journey mapping—to gain valuable insights and create tailored offerings that resonate with target audiences.
Frequently Asked Questions Answered
1. What technology is used in collaborative robots?
All cobots employ some combination of exteroceptive technology that simulates key human senses, most commonly sight/vision, hearing, and touch. Consequently, the exteroceptive sensors found in cobots generally include vision, touch, hearing, temperature, range finding, acceleration, and other similar sensors.
2. What is the difference between a robot and a cobot?
On the one hand, Cobots are designed to work alongside humans in a shared workspace, prioritizing safety, flexibility, and ease of use. They are best suited for manufacturers with lower volume and higher variability. On the other hand, industrial robots are autonomous machines intended for repetitive, high-precision, or hazardous tasks, often with minimal human interaction.
3. Which are the essential components of a robot?
Notably, cobots have a lifespan of at least 20,000 hours. On the contrary, if the cobot performs a task or application for 40 hours a week, this is at least 10 years. In Universal Robots machines, those drives are designed for a minimum lifespan of 35,000 hours. That’s about four and a half years of continuous operation. The main components of a robot are as follows:
- Sensors: They allow a robot to gather information about its environment.
- Effectors: They are the robot’s parts that do the work.
- Controls: A robot’s “control system” or the “brain” is the part of the robot that determines the robot’s behavior.
Remember, there are five main types of stationary robots (or “robotic arms”) available today that can accomplish tasks such as sorting, welding, and finishing. According to the International Federations of Robots, the five main industrial robot types are SCARA, Articulated, Cartesian, Delta, and Polar.
4. Where are collaborative robots being used?
Most examples of cobots in everyday life can come in handy for quality testing and inspection in many industries. For example, a robot can place objects in a testing device and sort them. Think about circuit boards or samples in a laboratory. Thanks to vision technology, there are also opportunities for a cobot to perform visual inspections. Comau (Smart Factory Cobots) is an arm-like cobot that automatically switches from industrial robot speed to collaborative speed when a human operator enters its working area. At the same time, it supports humans as they perform manual operations like lifting heavy parcels.
5. What are the principles of collaborative robots?
There are many collaborative robot applications across all industries worldwide. These include assembly, dispensing, finishing, machine tending, material handling, welding, material removal, quality inspections, and more. Fast set-up, easy programming, flexible deployment, and safe operation are the core principles of cobots that define their collaborative nature. Many people mistake collaborative robot design as only being about safety; that’s just the cost of entry.