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The benefits of automation are more accessible today than ever before. This is thanks to a number of advancements that have contributed to robots not only being smaller but also more affordable. As a result, small businesses are currently able to automate various parts of their processes without necessarily crippling the health of their balance sheets.  In fact, since automation has become increasingly affordable, it has become the thing that has allowed them to thrive in the current market.

Collaborative robots are at the forefront of making manufacturing automation both accessible and affordable. These robots are incredibly safe, affordable, lightweight, and flexible. And now, thanks to a number of advances in the market, these robotic systems are a perfect fit for the modern manufacturing environment. Here are some of the things that make these robots ideal for the current manufacturing climate.

Emergence of definite safety and technical standards for collaborative robots

Collaborative robots pride themselves for being safe to use. While most robots designed for human-machine collaboration are incredibly safer than traditional robotic systems, it wasn’t always clear what to expect. These robots came with a wide range of features that made it overwhelming for most small business owners to know exactly what to expect. Furthermore, the lack of clarity on safety standards meant that owners and employees would sometimes overestimate the safety of these robots. This created challenges that made some owners shy away from adopting these robotic systems.

With the release of an ISO technical specification and the publication of safety requirements of collaborative systems, there is clarity on what an end-user is to expect from a cobot. This certainty, in addition to the fact that these standards serve as a guideline to manufacturers, has made these robots safer and more accessible. They have made it easier for small businesses to properly assess the benefits of cobots, increased their confidence in these machines, and made it possible for their wide adoption.

Plug-and-Play Features and Applications

Small businesses exist in an ever-changing environment. Therefore, any tools, devices or solutions that are available to them should be versatile and flexible enough to allow the small business to pivot when necessary. While traditional robotic systems were bulky and inflexible, cobots are designed for flexibility, something that makes them perfectly suited for the modern world.

The availability of plug-and-play solutions has enhanced the freedom of small business owners as far as automating their processes is concerned. This is because initially, it was necessary for the owners to higher an integrator, who would then not only select, but also integrate a given part or application with the existing system. Since the process was both expensive and time-consuming, it made pivoting to new ideas or processes more of a headache.

The wide availability of plug-and-play solutions like ready-to-use gripper packages make it easier for businesses to set up and run their operations. They have made it less time consuming to automate new operations. They have also made automation more accessible to people who initially shied away from it because of the costs associated with purchasing, installing, running and maintaining the systems.

Development of better sensor and gripping technology

Collaborative robots come with inbuilt sensors that are designed to make them safer. These sensors also allow them to execute their tasks both efficiently and effectively. Unfortunately, in a bid to ensure the safety of these robotic systems, manufacturers always limited their gripping force. As a result, the number of automated applications that most cobots could be used for, has always been limited.

However, thanks to advances in sensor and gripping technology, cobots no longer have these limits. Sensors that allow these cobots to better distinguish between objects and humans increasingly make these cobots safe to use even in cases where their gripping force isn’t limited. The development of affordable grippers that can do both angular and parallel gripping has also increased the number of areas that cobots can be used in.

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