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Expert Shares 10 Essential Tips for Selecting the Right Cobot for Your Manufacturing Process

by Anna

As collaborative robots, or “cobots,” continue to revolutionize the manufacturing landscape, the task of choosing the right one for a specific process becomes increasingly important. Paul Richards, the Global Customer Coordinator for Cobot Market at Fanuc Europe, offers valuable insights and tips for companies looking to navigate the complex world of cobot selection.

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1. Establish the Business Case
Identify pain points hindering growth or performance. Consider staff reliability, health & safety concerns, unskilled labor shortages, or limitations of hard automation.

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2. Identify Potential Applications
Identify tasks causing issues. Focus on tasks causing repetitive strain injuries, health & safety hazards, or tasks that are not desirable for human workers.

3. Evaluate Applications
Score each application considering precision, comfort, rejection rates, load handling, human presence, value added by humans, and required speed.

4. Address Safety Concerns
Evaluate whether the cobot needs guarding or not. FANUC cobots can work safely alongside humans at specific speeds without guards, making speed an indicator of suitable tasks.

5. Protect Your Investment
Choose a reputable brand that will support the cobot’s lifespan. Inquire about the predicted life, future software compatibility, and warranty.

6. Calculate Payload and Reach
Don’t underestimate payload requirements. Calculate total load considering arm components. Account for additional margin when calculating reach.

7. Select Sensors and Ancillary Equipment
Choose sensors and vision systems based on application needs. Decide on the camera placement and consider internal or external force sensors.

8. Evaluate Your Environment
Consider IP ratings for specific environments like food production or dusty/dirty areas. Ensure ratings apply to the entire unit, not just the arm.

9. Consider Connectivity
Choose a communication protocol compatible with other equipment, reducing integration time and costs. Standard I/O or Fieldbus options can simplify connectivity.

10. Plan for the Future
Ensure the chosen cobot is flexible for future applications and growth. Consider software updates, support, and the possibility of transitioning to industrial robots.

Selecting the right cobot involves meticulous planning and consideration of various factors. Making the right choice not only enhances productivity and safety but also sets the foundation for future automation endeavors, fostering a positive experience and inspiring continued growth.

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