Technology and automation are an inevitable part of modern life and indeed a natural part of progress. But despite many scare stories to the contrary, much of the technology will work alongside rather than replace humans in the workforce. Enter the cobot!
So What Are Cobots?
Cobot is a concatenation of ‘collaborative’ and ‘robot’. These are automatons/robots that are intended to physically interact and work alongside humans in a shared workspace.
By 2025, collaborative robots are expected to make up over a third of all robot sales, at a value of approximately $4billion.
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How to Introduce and Integrate Cobots
1. Educate and reassure your workforce. Some scepticism about robots is likely (and perfectly understandable). It is a new thing for robots to work alongside humans. Workers may have concerns over job security, so it’s important to assure them that cobots are not intended to replace them. Also emphasise that the robots can actually take on some of the more monotonous processes. The more information workers are given, the better.
2. Identify and prioritise the right tasks. Jobs that are mundane, repetitive or high risk are perfect for cobot deployment. Identifying these tasks early on will improve the chances of smooth deployment and boosting productivity faster.
3. Open all hours. Cobots don’t need sleep, lunch breaks or holidays and don’t get sick. This means rethinking planning and production strategies and schedules. Robots can work overnight to have parts completed ready for when workers arrive for their shifts.
4. Work with the manufacturer/distributor. The cobot manufacturer/distributor will know the best practices in terms of what tasks are ideal, as well as how to deploy them in different environments. Use their expertise, and take advantage of any training tools and courses they offer.
5. Learn from peers and employees. Collaborative robots are already used in industries such as plastics, contract packaging, logistics and electronics manufacturing. So explore how others like you have been able to successfully implement them. Your employees can also help you to shape your processes by finding different ways to work with cobots and indicating where they think they can be most useful.