Cobot palletisers, also known as collaborative robot palletisers, are robotic systems designed to work alongside human operators in palletising tasks. They offer several advantages and disadvantages, which are outlined below:
Advantages of Cobot Palletisers:
- Increased productivity: Cobot palletisers can work continuously without experiencing fatigue or requiring breaks, resulting in higher production rates compared to manual palletising.
- Enhanced safety: Cobots are designed to collaborate with humans in a shared workspace, equipped with advanced safety features such as force and proximity sensors. They can detect the presence of humans and adjust their speed or stop to avoid collisions, making them safer to work around than traditional industrial robots.
- Flexibility and adaptability: Cobots are programmable and can be easily reprogrammed or reconfigured to handle different products or palletising patterns. This flexibility allows businesses to adapt to changing production needs and reduces the time and cost associated with retooling for new product lines.
- Improved ergonomics: Cobot palletisers can perform repetitive and physically demanding tasks, reducing the risk of musculoskeletal/repetitive strain injuries for human operators. By automating the palletising process, cobots can free up workers to focus on more complex and value-added tasks.
- Space efficiency: Cobots are often compact and can be installed in smaller spaces compared to traditional industrial robots. They can be integrated into existing production lines without significant modifications, saving valuable floor space in manufacturing facilities.
Disadvantages of Cobot Palletisers:
- Cobot palletisers normally have to run too slow to be commercially viable if you run them in collaborative mode for palletising. As a result, nearly all cobot palletiser installations still need some element of guarding or area safety scanners to enable the cobot to be run faster and still be safe and compliant with CE and UKCA requirements.
- High initial investment: Implementing cobot palletisers can involve a significant upfront investment, including the cost of the robot, necessary safety measures, and programming or integration with existing systems. This initial cost may pose a barrier to adoption for some businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
- Limited payload and speed: Cobots typically have lower payload capacities and slower operating speeds compared to larger industrial robots. While they can handle many palletising tasks, certain heavy or high-speed applications may still require traditional industrial robots.
- Complex programming: Programming cobots can require specialized knowledge and expertise, making it challenging for non-technical personnel. Although efforts have been made to simplify programming interfaces, it may still require additional training or hiring of skilled personnel to operate and maintain the cobot palletisers.
- Integration challenges: Integrating cobot palletisers into existing production lines can be complex, especially if the infrastructure or control systems are not compatible. The coordination between cobots and other machinery, conveyor belts, or sensors may require additional engineering and customization.
- Dependence on humans: While cobots are designed to collaborate with humans, they still rely on human operators for tasks such as supplying materials or troubleshooting issues. This human dependency may introduce inefficiencies if the cobots have to wait for human intervention or if human operators are not available when needed.
Please note that many low cost cobots palletisers solutions are sold with a certificate of incorporation for CE / UKCA which means they are not fully safety compliant until they have been set up with the relevant safety, integration and guarding, and then properly certified with a CE/UKCA certificate of conformity, before use. This is very important to understand as there are many non-compliant installations across the UK currently, where end users have not understood the significance of the certificate of incorporation rather than the normal certificate of conformity for a fully CE/UKCA marked ready to use machine.
It’s also important to note that the advantages and disadvantages of cobot palletisers can vary depending on the specific application, industry, and business requirements. Evaluating these factors is crucial in determining whether cobot palletisers are a suitable investment for a particular manufacturing operation.