Carl Palme, Applications Product Manager at Rethink Robotics, has called collaborative robots “a PC with arms.” This flexibility is one reason that the market for collaborative robots is expected to top three billion dollars in the next five years.
Flexibility is increasingly important as manufacturers receive pressure to do more different things in smaller spaces. Procter & Gamble, for example, recently closed North American factories and consolidated in larger, multicategory factories that can handle more brands and more variations.
Collaborative robots can be moved from one line to another and from one task to another, unlike the typical industrial robot which has one job and commands a large space in which to do that one task.
Collaborative robots are also much less expensive than the typical industrial robot. Some of the options available now cost less over the course of the year than an entry-level human worker.
Not having to build cages and provide other infrastructure required for the typical industrial robot is also a significant cost savings. Providing the power, coping with the heat, and keeping people safe are all essential when installing old school industrial robots, and each of those essential jobs comes with its own costs in labor, energy, and materials.
Collaborative robots lower the bar to entry for industrial automation, and make it easier for manufacturers to respond to market forces.
No current collaborative robot is going to run your printing press or your packaging machine, though. For that, you need good old industrial machines with serious industrial motion control. If you need service or support for your Rexroth electric drives, controls, or servos, call us. We specialize in Rexroth electric motion control, new and legacy.