Cobots, or collaborative robots, are revolutionizing manufacturing. As many companies face labor shortages and increasing labor costs, collaborative robots have become a way to ensure that production keeps moving and customers stay happy. These highly versatile machines are designed to share workspaces with humans to provide productivity gains that benefit customers.
Collaborative robots typically carry out repetitive tasks, allowing the human workforce to perform high-value tasks and oversee more than one machine. When humans perform repetitive tasks, burnout can occur, causing them to make errors and waste time. In addition, they are at risk for repetitive motion injuries that puts additional strain on the already thin workforce.
With collaborative robots, efficiency and throughput increase because they can run non-stop. In cases where the part might be negatively impacted by errors, using cobots can improve quality and reduce scrap. The efficiency gains from using a collaborative robot improve scheduling, allowing manufacturers to pull work forward and get products to customers sooner.
How Ensinger Uses Cobots
We recently invested in two collaborative robots to use for machine tending duties. The cobots are designed and manufactured by Universal Robots, a company founded to make robot technology accessible to all companies by creating lightweight, flexible robot arms.
Our cobots are the company’s newest model, UR10e. The UR10e can lift more than 25 lb. and has a reach of more than 50 in. Plus, the flexibility and ease of programming allow us to use them for entirely different tasks.
We are using one of the cobots in our secondary machining operations on our CNC lathe. Molded parts that require secondary machining, such as having the inner diameter bored or outer diameter trimmed, are machined on the lathe. The cobot is programmed to pick up the part, place it into the CNC machine, signal the automatic door to close, and push the button to start the machine. Once the machining is completed, it removes the part and begins again. The cobot has dual-end arms, or grippers, to handle two pieces at once.
The second cobot will be used with an insert molding operation. The cobot will place the inserts into the injection molding machine and remove the finished parts. This application is expected to be running by mid-May.
Each part that is run requires a different program because of the size and shape differences. But, programming the cobots is straightforward and can be done with a touchpad, or we can even program them by moving the arm manually into place.
Work With A Molder that Invests in Your Success
Your high-tech product requires a high-tech solution. Whether we are investing in cutting-edge equipment or talented staff, we do it with the intent to ensure our customers remain competitive. In addition to our new cobots, we have invested in a fully integrated ERP system, simulation software, a manufacturing execution system, a machine monitoring control system, automation, and CNC equipment.
Our staff has the indepth process and materials knowledge to bring your high-performance product to fruition and will assist through every step, from helping you identify a suitable material for your application through supply chain management. Contact us to get started with your next project.