Diving into the Concept of Collaborative Applications
By James Taylor, General Manager, APAC of OnRobot.
Smarter and more versatile robotic tools, or end-of-arm tooling (EOAT)—sensors, grippers and quick changers—empower robots to take over repetitive tasks, freeing them to handle adaptive, higher-precision and more intelligent applications that in the past were too complex to automate.
More importantly, these advanced tools enable collaborative applications that allow workers and robots to operate safely side by side due to the user-friendly nature, intuitive programming and safety features of EOAT-fitted robots.
Much of Southeast Asia is enthusiastic about robots. According to a recent report, Singapore is one of the global leaders in robotic adoption, with 658 installed per 10,000 workers, the second highest rate. Looking at the global rankings of expected robot adoption rates, Southeast Asian nations occupy six of the top seven positions.
Increased robotic adoption in emerging markets has fuelled the need to deploy advanced tooling features. These trends have helped increase EOAT adoption significantly.
Prioritizing EOAT Before the Robot
Due to technological advances, EOAT have become more sophisticated and capable. Apart from handling variations in product size, weight, and shape, EOAT also enables robots to accommodate several processes at once. With EOAT bringing these enhanced capabilities to robots and this trend expanding across manufacturing, we will soon see robots becoming commodities. The kind of robot used will not matter so much as the EOAT for the job.
EOAT is expanding the breadth of applications in which industrial robots, or collaborative robots (cobots), can be used by making them smarter, more reactive and independent. This helps manufacturers meet a range of production goals, from being more flexible and more responsive to market changes and fulfilling customer needs to increasing the overall speed of innovation.
Evolution of EOAT
Various tools help manufacturers meet their production goals. For instance, OnRobot’s RG2 and RG6 Grippers, which can grip products of differing size, shape and materials, enable such applications as machine tending, pick and place, packaging and palletizing, and assembly.
These grippers are easily installed and provide more flexible production with less downtime. They are cost effective and can handle large process variations. Equipped with dual grippers, force sensors and artificial intelligence, robots can execute complex tasks that was earlier limited to elementary tasks.
Innovation in the EOAT space is advancing rapidly. For example, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) scientists are looking to integrate artificial intelligence with grippers and sensors to make object manipulation faster and more autonomous.
Improving Return on Investment (ROI)
A robot’s ability to handle a growing range of industrial tasks thanks to EOAT leads to faster return on investment (ROI) for manufacturers. That is because they are flexible and easily deployed, allowing them to switch between multiple tasks with minimal need for additional programming or tool swapping.
The robotic tools also increase production efficiency as they can operate with greater precision and reliability. The safe, collaborative and intelligent nature of EOAT also lowers the automation cost since workers can work with them without additional safety fencing, complex programming or installation costs.
The Future is Collaborative Applications
With the dawn of smarter, more adaptive tooling, robots can now function with greater speed, strength, safety and precision, accomplishing a wide range of tasks, helping manufacturers maximizing ROI.