How to automate industrial production using cobots

  • Industry News
  • Aug 31,23
Companies across all industries are investing heavily in automation to help them maintain their productivity and competitiveness but also to boost their resilience and flexibility, writes Sylke Becker.
How to automate industrial production using cobots

Automation is a topic of great interest to industry right now – and also a focus topic at EMO Hannover 2023, which will be opening its doors from September 18 to 23. Many of the approximately 1,800 exhibitors are expected to be showcasing products and services in this field.

"Automation has been a major topic in recent years for cost reasons, but it is now also attracting renewed attention as a result of the shortage of skilled workers, the uncertainties in the supply chain and also the increasing demands with regard to sustainable growth," said Dr Wilfried Schäfer, Executive Director of EMO organiser VDW (German Machine Tool Builders' Association), Frankfurt am Main. In any case, there are now record levels of robot installations, with more than 570,000 new systems being installed worldwide last year, according to forecasts from the International Federation of Robotics.

Companies across all industries are investing heavily in automation to help them maintain their productivity and competitiveness but also to boost their resilience and flexibility. Automated processes also allow them to meet increasing demand more effectively.

“Cobots” – collaborative industrial robots – constitute a special niche within the robot market. Demand is increasing significantly here, too. "Today’s market offers a wide range of cobots with longer ranges which are capable of handling higher payloads. Entire business ecosystems are now developing around the collaborative industrial robots. These include not only the robot itself, but also compatible plug & play accessories such as grippers, image processing systems, measuring systems, software, industrial electronics, feeding systems and even online application manufacturers," explained Dr Schäfer.

Cobots are spreading very quickly throughout industry, which is why EMO Hannover is now offering its own Open Space Cobot Solutions Area on Stand A54 in Hall 9. The nine exhibitors on the joint stand – Elite Robots, Fanuc, Hannweber, Ifsys, Kassow Robots, Kuka, Lorch, Robco and Sick – are keen to support their customers as they move into new business areas. They will be showcasing AI solutions for mobile robots and augmented reality applications, for example. A further key factor is that the robots are easy and intuitive to reprogram when requirements change. Two examples: Kuka, based in Augsburg, Germany, is presenting a flexible and easy-to-use cobot. Visitors can check this out for themselves by putting a hand-guided and programmable unit through its paces at the event. Benjamin Woltmann, Marketing Manager at Kuka Germany, said, "Our declared aim is to make the programming and operation of a robot as simple as that of a standard smartphone."

Robco GmbH from Munich is pursuing a similar strategy. The company has combined a patented modular robot with an easy-to-program software suite and with a highly flexible and fully networked industrial robot. "This allows us to radically rethink how products are made,” said Sina Isabell Springer, Global Partner Manager at Robco. The modularity of the robot guarantees maximum flexibility: it can be reprogrammed for a new process in a short time if the project or the requirements change. Connecting up a special robot kit allows wear and tear or potential problems with the robot to be checked remotely and minimised at an early stage.

About the author:
Sylke Becker is the Spokesperson of VDW (German Machine Tool Builders' Association) e.V.

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