Collaborative robotics deliver faster ROI
Collaborative robots used in industrial applications can be easier than traditional robotics for specification, training, setup, integration with end-effectors and applications, operation and redeployment. Collaborative robots also can help manufacturing workers fill in where skilled labor resources are scarce, adding productivity, saving manufacturing jobs and expanding manufacturing competitiveness and opportunities, according to Early Ewing, UR+ product manager for Universal Robots.
In industrial implementations, collaborative robots can work in the same space with humans after an appropriate risk assessment. Compared to traditional industrial robots, Ewing said, collaborative robots can have faster setup, easier programming, more flexible deployment, limited space requirements, can work side by side with humans, and have a return on investment (ROI) of often a year or less, as explained in a July 31 webcast on return on investment (ROI) of collaborative robots,
Helps with manufacturing productivity
Collaborative robots’ ROI of one year or less, Ewing said, is strong compared to two years needed for many traditional robot applications. He also explained collaborative robots can help with manufacturing productivity in ways such as:
- Humans working with machines can result in dynamic and adaptable production.
- Robots help manufacturers grow even in this skill-labor-restricted current environment.
- Skilled labor pressures in manufacturing are expected to continue with U.S. Baby Boomers reaching retirement age at a pace of 10,000 per day, resulting in an estimated 2.4 million open jobs between 2018 and 2028.
- More than 68% of respondents to a National Association of Manufacturers survey in fourth-quarter 2018 said attracting and retaining a quality workforce was the highest among “primary current business challenges.”
- Average annual growth for collaborative robots exceeds 45% from 2018 to 2025, according to The Insight Partners Global Collaborative Robots Market.
- Among eight collaborative robot customer application in a Universal Robots video, return on investment ranged from 1 to 14 months. Five were 6 months or less.
- Implementation varies, some with customers, distributors, or system integrators for more complex applications.
- Human-robot collaboration is 85% more productive than humans or robots alone.
- All Axis Machinery, which was turning away orders for lack of skilled labor, used four collaborative robots to automate six applications, increase spindle on-time from 8 to 20 hours per day with higher accuracy and quality for a 4-month ROI.
- Zippertubing wrap-around cable tubing manufacturer achieved zero parts defect and was able to reassign 32% of labor force to other things the robot cannot do.
Other case studies show other benefits including eliminating backlog, increasing throughput, doing half of preliminary buffing so a skilled human can do the rest, eliminating downtime in a critical application, and providing enough help to enable a third shift to operate.
KEYWORDS: Collaborative robots, manufacturing competitiveness, skills gap
Robotics saves manufacturing jobs rather than eliminate them.
Collaborative robots can be set up and redeployed more quickly than traditional robots
Programming and training for collaborative robots is easier than they are for traditional robots.
If you have traditional robots, or even if you don’t, what applications could benefit from a little extra help?