When thinking of industrial robots, what often comes to mind are images of towering,
several-ton metal behemoths working
behind large safety enclosures. Warning
lights, sensors and emergency stop
buttons surround the robot as it goes
about its daily tasks, all in an effort to
keep its human coworkers safe.
However, a new kind of robot is
starting to come to the forefront of
the modern robotics discussion: the
collaborative robot — or "cobot" —
robots specifically designed to work
side-by-side with humans to
complete a job.
In September, IMPO had the
opportunity to see these collaborative
robots up close and in real-world
situations at the second annual Robotiq
User Conference (RUC) in Quebec
City, Canada. Robotiq manufactures
flexible robot grippers, sensors and
vision systems with the goal of making
automation easy, fast and accessible
to global manufacturers and SMEs
without the need of extensive technical
knowledge, leading to a quick ROI.
On its website, Robotiq boasts to
have freed hundreds of human hands
from doing repetitive tasks, and in 10
years that number could grow to tens or
hundreds of thousands.
The first day of the event consisted
of inspiring keynotes discussing the
exponential change and future of the
manufacturing industry and how robotics
will play a part.
Robotics And The Skills Gap
During her keynote address, Michelle
Drew Rodriguez, Deloitte Manufacturing
Leader, spoke about how automation and
robotics could help address the skills gap.
“There is a talent shortage, there’s
not enough people to do what needs to
be done and I think robotics, and in fact
collaborative robotics, can address that
need,” Rodriguez says.
Rodriguez stressed that utilizing
robotics isn’t about replacing workers, it
is about freeing up workers from doing
repetitive, mundane tasks — that could
easily be handled by robots.
RUC 2017 teams worked together to design five automated cells using
Lean Robotics principles and software tools. (IMPO photo)