COBOTs enter industries Automation at the largest scale possible is a typical feature of Industry 4.0, yet its implementation depends on humans experienced in identifying proper areas in which and collaborators with whom to integrate the process. Collaborative robots (cobots) represent a simple form of automation: • They decrease the number of operators in repetitive, monotonous, and/or dangerous jobs and processes. • They reduce the shortage of experts in traditional automation both in spheres of programming and maintenance. • They increase the skills of staff and allow them to work at positions with considerably higher added value. • The global development of automation is tending towards collaborative robotization Nowadays, there is an average of sixty-nine robots per 10,000 workers in production worldwide. The greatest share of cobot sales and the implementation is in Asian countries (China, Japan, South Korea, etc.). The Czech Republic is 19th in the world with ninetythree robots per 10,000 workers in 2015. All of that (together with a general shortage of employees) has inspired the Automobile Cluster to prepare and, with the assistance of MSIC, build the Centre of Collaborative Robotics. This attitude is extremely important for small- and medium-sized businesses who cannot afford to build their own testing facilities, therefore they can share knowledge and experience in other innovation processes in the collocation centre. The efficiency of the centre will undoubtedly increase thanks to the synergy of the
newly built Idea Hub whose management decided to join in the Automobile Cluster. Basic features of cobots Cobots suppose and demand interaction with a human as the operator and the cobots become part of the process in which they complement each other. They are basically slower (in order to improve safety) than traditional industrial robots, and they are made so as to react to a change in requirements and instruction during the production process and/ or cycle. They do not demand a long shutdown, and may be programmed and/ or reset by a collaborating employee. They can handle components of relatively small weight mostly in regards to momentum and the need to stop the motion in case the operator is in danger. The use of cobots is desirable wherever the routine demands challenging ergonomics and/or high job precision, even at a slow tempo. Co-operation between Automobile Cluster and MSIC The initiative by Automobile Cluster to establish the Centre of Collaborative Robotics was most welcome by MSIC (the Moravian-Silesian Innovation Centre). Both organizations opened the Centre on the occasion of the workshop “Robotization and Automation in Practice” held on Sept. 19, 2018.
However, the sole construction of the Centre would not have been enough to really support recent trends. Automobile Cluster has therefore decided to develop this infrastructural project with another research and development project: COBOTS – Development of Peripheries. The project involves the research and development of specialized tentacle robot arms and other features in workstation peripheries, their sensory systems and control systems corresponding with the demands of that particular workstation, including safety analysis. The target output is functional prototypes of specific peripheries. The user team consist of Automobile Cluster members, and the pilot tests will take place in the technological leaders of the automotive industry: Continental Automotive, Varroc Lighting and Brano. The project intensifies co-operation of businesses and universities, in this case VŠB – the Technical University of Ostrava – whose Department of Robotics in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering is the project solver. Collaborative Robotics is an asset of national significance The introduction of collaborative robotics will keep production efficient even in countries with higher labour costs, and may even bring back those production activities that had moved and been outsourced to countries with lower costs.
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