What is the real value of co-robots?
Before the new crown, the British manufacturing industry was coping with the uncertainty of Brexit and labor shortages. However, they cannot foresee the impact of the new crown on the industry. No industry is immune to its impact. In order to cope with the continuing challenges caused by the virus, a change of mindset is needed because manufacturers can no longer bear the burden and wait for the crisis to subside. Positive changes are needed to meet the needs of the ever-changing market-the answer to all this lies in collaborative robots.
For SMEs, the implementation of automation seems to be an arduous process. However, integrating automation into the production line can greatly increase output, productivity and stability. This is not to say that automation will replace humans. Collaborative robots undertake simple and repetitive tasks, allowing human employees to engage in more valuable and complex activities. This also has the added benefit of protecting human employees from the risk of personal injury caused by dull, repetitive tasks. However, the true value of collaborative robots lies in their ability to work continuously and efficiently 24 hours a day.
Common misunderstandings of collaborative robots
Understandably, many SME manufacturers have doubts about automation tools and mistakenly believe that they are too expensive, too complicated and more suitable for large enterprises. For large industrial-scale robots, this is of course correct. They are more suitable for longer production cycles and tend to require more space on the production line. However, integrating collaborative robots into production lines is not an expensive or difficult process.
Built-in safety features mean that collaborative robots can work with human employees without the need for protective fences, so they can be installed without closing the production workshop. In addition, collaborative robots do not require any expertise to set up, and can be programmed and reprogrammed in as little as 30 minutes-which means they can quickly switch between different tasks. In view of this, it may take several weeks to complete the same task in the large industrial counterparts of collaborative robots.
After the installation is completed, they can start to repay the investment on the first day of implementation, thereby increasing output and productivity. Shorter programming time means that manufacturers will not fall into a specific production cycle, and can adapt very flexibly to changing needs. For example, Bloom-in-a-Box, a flower packaging service located in Lancashire, can quickly adapt to the new crown crisis and use collaborative robots to take advantage of new market opportunities. When the demand for its products decreased, the company was able to grow rapidly, adjust its business and change its production lines to manufacture PPE equipment.
Cost-effectiveness of collaborative robots
Contrary to popular belief, collaborative robots do not require large investments. The cost of collaborative robots is usually the same as the wages of ordinary workers. In addition, there are a wide range of leasing options, which means that small and medium-sized companies can offset their monthly payments by increasing their automated profitability.
Even without the impact of this virus, the manufacturing industry has been under pressure for a period of time, because the demand for mass customization and faster product cycles have brought complex challenges for manufacturers of all sizes. As a result, automation has become an essential part of increasing productivity and maintaining business competitiveness, and SMEs no longer see it as a luxury.
As the industry develops, at least partially automated companies will be left behind. Considering the severity of the current crisis and the uncertainty of the global market, various companies must seek solutions that can make them agile and resilient enough to withstand the coming storm. Therefore, it is vital that manufacturers take an important first step towards achieving fully automated operations, which will lead to increased productivity, profit margins, and help cope with increasingly uncertain times.