Collaborative robots or cobots are made to increase your company’s productivity, boost output, and ensure the products’ quality. And it is a big step to introduce collaborative robots into your organization, and to find the right cobot that suits your needs is not easy. In our article we will help you with this challenging process.
It’s obvious why so many businesses are investing in collaborative robots today. These robots can be easily trained to do repetitive tasks and they are less likely to make mistakes like human co-workers, saving your time and money. Cobots can be set up in a short amount of time and relatively easy to use. They are more mobile and take less space than traditional industrial robots.
What is cobot?
A cobot is a collaborative robot, specially designed to work side-to-side with human workers and require no costly protective caging. Thanks to special software algorithms and sensors, they automatically stop interface with obstacles (people or objects), not causing injuries or damage. Collaboration robots consist of a mechanical arm, which is programmed to perform different tasks, depending on the needs of your business. Cobots in manufacturing and robotic solutions are a step forward for your business.
The cobot market is growing everyday, with more and more players entering the game. Cobots are widely used in manufacturing processes, but a lot of manufacturers invest in cobots without a comprehensive knowledge of the market. Likewise with any other intelligent technology, it is very important to know all the specifics of cobots and think about how they can best benefit your operations. If you target the wrong cobot for your company’s operational needs, it can lead to a lack of expected ROI. Collaboration robots are highly versatile, but they come with strict limitations and specifications that must be respected and understood. Cobot robot price can be very different.
The key to success - analyzing operational needs and knowing the existing market of cobots. In this article we are going to take a look at the most popular cobot models, comparing them to Robotic Arm PULSE by Rozum Robotics.
PULSE is a 6 axis robot arm intended for automation of industrial and commercial workflows as well as education and research projects. It is a cool robot arm, which is versatile and suitable for many processes such as point welding, pick-and-place, machine tending, gluing; It also can be a coffe barista. Pulse robotic hand consist of embedded self-designed servo motors and aluminium linking elements. The built-in servo drives enable precise angular displacement of joints within the span from -360 to +360 degrees and positioning of the work tool with a thousandth degree accuracy. Teaching trajectories by hand guiding makes setup, adjusting and configuring, the cobots easy and super quick, even for a user with no coding or engineering background. How much does a robot cost? The price of robotic hand is $21,980
Let’s start with an ABB IRB 14050 Yumi. This model is a single arm. ABB cobot is lightweight and compact of 9.5kg (20.94 lbs) and can be mounted in any direction including table, ceiling and wall. With a footprint of 160mm (6.30 inches), ABB’s cobot is fairly compact, but PULSE takes even less space with a footprint of 120mm (4.72 inches). Yumi cobot is only suitable for small parts assembly processes as it’s payload is just 0.5kg (1.1 lbs). Payload is the weight a cobot can carry. Every collaborative robot has its own payload, that is calculated without a robot tool or the weight of the end effector. What does it mens? It means that the actual payload will be the nominal payload minus the weight of the tool. ABB IRB 14050 Yumi is super safe and lightweight, but the main thing to consider is that this cobot is not suitable for many applications due to its payload. It is perfect for assembly and inspection, but for applications such as palletizing, picking and placing, machine loading, welding, screwing, polishing and grinding, gluing and dispensing, this cobot would be the wrong choice. PULSE, in its turn, has a payload of 6 kg, making it very versatile and suitable for any applications that demand consistent performance and super precise positioning. It can be integrated with different end effectors, according to intended uses - welding equipment, video cameras, grippers, laser tools, etc.
The next cobot is Cobots by Stäubli. TX2touch is a highly productive cobot with the SIL3/PLe safety level. The size of this cobot is fairly big (51 kg), compared to other cobots and it comes with a robot controller that weighs 38kg. With such size you would think this cobot is able to lift a great weight, but unfortunately its payload is just 4.5 kg and the reach of 670mm. What is horizontal reach? The measurement of the distance that a cobot can reach is called “reach”. It is usually taken from the base of a collaboration robot. In comparison, the Rozum Robotic arm with a weight of just 12.6 kg has a reach of 750mm. The floor is the only mounting option for TX2touch, not like the Pulse hand, which can be installed anywhere. The programming of TX2 TOUCH Cobots is not so intuitive and you need to get used to it. Coming back to PULSE, the arm programming is hand-guided and REST API, UI. With an open API and a wide selection of languages, you get almost limitless PULSE tuning options. PULSE also can be controlled manually. You just have to guide the robot to the desired points, - PULSE remembers the trajectory and then repeats the movement with an accuracy of 0.1 mm.
Moving on to our next cobot, which is Cobotta by Denso Wave. This is an inherently safe and small robot, designed for performing small repetitive tasks. Another unique feature is that Cobotta, due to its small weight (4kg), has a portable design, so you can take it wherever you want. The Denso Wave small robot arm is more like an office robot. It is equipped with an AC servo motor. By the way, in Pulse robot hand, self-design high compact brushless servo drives (RDrive series) are used. RDrive servo is an all-in-one robotic joint. In a single housing of RDrive there are all the main elements: a controller, an encoder, a harmonic gear and an AC brushless motor. Overall, Denso Wave’s Cobbota with a load capacity of 0.5kg and a reach of 342mm is a small and compact cobot that targets applications such as assembly and handling of small parts. If you are looking for an extra hand that would take away simple and time consuming tasks, Cobotta is a good choice. But if you need high-class cost-efficient manipulators intended for manufacturing enterprises of all sizes, makers and innovators, research institutions.
Continuing with. It is the smallest collaborative robot from the CR family. Even though it is the smallest cobot from FANUC, its footprint is 296.5 x 235mm and it weighs 55kg, which is two times bigger than PULSE robotic arm. The payload of Fanuc cobot is just 4kg and arm reach of 550mm. CR models are standard FANUC’s industrial robots, covered with soft external green skin and equipped with force-torque sensors at the base, making it completely safe for collaboration with human workers. Likewise CR 4iA, PULSE machine arm is safe to work side by side with people, requiring no additional caging or costly safety measures. CR 4iA by FANUC has no teach-by-demonstration feature like in PULSE robotic hand, where teaching trajectories by hand guiding makes setup, adjusting and configuring the cobots quick and easy.
The next one is. APAS automatic production assistant uses industrial robots from Kuka or Fanuc under specially developed sensor skin. Because of capacitive sensors, the APAS assistant mobile stops before a collision occurs. You can also buy attachments such as 3D or 2D cameras, or a 3 finger gripper. On the Rexroth (a Bosch company) website there is almost no information about the robot's specifications, only about APAS automated technology. So there is not much I can add.
Moving on to Cobots by Franka Emika. It is an all-inclusive collaborative robot that is sensitive and agile. Likewise PULSE, Franka Emika robots’ programming is intuitive and workflow-based. This cobot has a payload of 3kg and the reach of 855mm. Franka Emika’s robot is accurate with pose repeatability of +/-0.1mm same with PULSE robot. Pose repeatability is the ability of a cobot's TCP (tool centre point) to return to the same position from the same direction every time. Pose repeatability of PULSE arm guarantees superior precision of positioning for consistent performance. In order to run Franka Emika’s robot from alternate software rather than the original, you will have to work closely with their support team. PULSE cyber arm uses a web interface, available on any device and for advanced control, there is an implemented Application Programming Interface (Java, Python).
Now we will proceed to. UR5 is lightweight (18kg), space-saving (149mm), and easy to re-deploy to multiple applications without changing the layout of your production. The PULSE robotic arm is even more compact (120mm) and lightweight (12,6kg). With a payload of 5 kg, Universal robots cobot is an adaptable collaborative industrial robot suitable for medium-duty applications with ultimate flexibility. Its reach is 850mm, which is a bit bigger than PULSE has (750mm). It is an easy-to-use cobot designed for seamless integration into a wide range of applications. It is quite easy to set it up and learn how to use, but updates of the interface can be tricky sometimes. As well as it can be difficult to save programs to an external drive. With a payload of 6 kg, PULSE arm is much cheaper than UR5. The price of the UR5 is $35,000 and its parts are not cheap either, when PULSE arm costs $21,980.
The growing number of collaborative robots hitting the market is higher than ever. Ongoing cost savings and technological advantages now mean that many SMEs should start considering introducing cobots into the workplace. Even so, the decision on which robot to buy requires a comprehensive and detailed assessment of available options. The next SMEs’ generation will likely rely on robotic solutions even more, due to the trends in the industry such as increased device autonomy, evolving safety and health requirements, and the growth of the Industrial Internet of Things.