At present, all types of manufacturers whether big or small are becoming increasingly interested in improving their processes of production, finding talented employees and strengthening the customer relationship. Issues related to workforce often take the first spot in a manufacturer’s list of operational considerations. For this reason, the skills gap is expected to widen reaching 32 million by the year 2025. Research done by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte, attribute this gap to a number of things including lack of the industry’s attractiveness for new job seekers, baby boomers retiring and the economy’s strength.
It is no wonder why most manufacturers are going the cobot way. They are not only cheaper but also smaller and more adaptable than their predecessors. Cobots are rapidly changing the face of manufacturing; this means that businesses and cobot engineers alike need to start creating a more compatible relationship between mechanized workers and their human counterparts. In short, for manufacturers to move forward, there is a need for building collaborative hybrid human-cobot teams.
Why Hybrid Collaboration is Essential
Collaborative robots are on the rise, and they are becoming crucial to manufacturing. Due to their competitive benefits, they are taking the attention away from traditional robots which used to be at the forefront of manufacturing.
On average, traditional caged-off robots that work on factory floors cost around $22,000 to $37,000 per unit, and they take about 36 to 50 months to make investment returns. On the other hand, cobots cost somewhere around $15,000 and $30,000 on average and have a payback time of 24 to 48 months. In addition, cobots can collaborate and integrate with human teams as well as offer manufacturers all the benefits of automated machines.
Given the myriad of tasks, cobots can be designed to perform such as assisting surgeons with precise tool movements, their integration with human teams seems inevitable.
Designed for Better Hybrid Teams
Collaborative robots are designed with the intention to assist humans and not steal their jobs as many people claim. Therefore, there are certain qualities that robotic engineers consider when designing them. At present, makers of cobots are more concerned and focused on creating machines that humans are comfortable with and can understand just as they would colleagues. Comprehending what a collaborative robot is likely to do next helps with the enhancement of human safety thus making collaboration more effective.
Some robotic engineers give their cartoon eyes so that they can be able to communicate with those around them. In the same way that we look at an object we are about to pick up, some of these cobots look in the direction they are about to move in thus helping human workers around them become aware of their intention and helps in building trust. Collaborative robots are also adaptable in that their interface enables a simple set up. This allows human workers to work more collaboratively with the machine. In addition, they can teach the robot new skills by simply moving their arms in the specific pattern that is necessary for the new task.
The Future of Human-Cobot Hybrid Teams
The future of robotics is bright. The more cobot technology continues to develop, the more researchers, engineers, and technicians will continue to look for new ways to enable machines to work more collaboratively with humans. That’s if the aim is for the two to become true partners in the processes of manufacturing. Some of the advancements may include technical solutions which allow cobots to function more intelligently as part of a human team while others may include giving the machine more human-like features reasoning.
As manufacturers continue to streamline processes on the factory floor, cobot support will is necessary if they want their human employees to fill more skilled and significant roles that are being created by the integration of new technologies. As Steve Jobs once said, “Great things in business are never done by one person, they are done by a team of people.”