Collaborative robots gaining momentum as automation tools for SMEs

Chloe Liao, Taipei; Willis Ke, DIGITIMES Asia 0

Collaborative robots (cobots) are emerging as key automation tool in the Industry 4.0 era and enjoy greater growth potentials than traditional industrial robots, as they are flexible, lightweight and easy to program and move, and can better cater to the automation needs of small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), especially those engaged in electronics assembly.

Unlike traditional industrial robots, which perform their work in physically isolated places, cobots come into direct contact with their human colleagues for man-machine collaborative operation. Cobots already replaced traditional industrial robots to take center stage at the 2019 Hannover Messe held in early April in Germany.

According to the 2018 World Robotics Report released by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), cobots will see the fastest growth in the future global robot market, with the largest growth momentum to come from the electronics manufacturing sector.

This is because flexible production is increasingly needed by manufacturers, and the high mobility and agility of cobots can facilitate their flexible production deployments.

To meet the robust market demand, Denmark-based Universal Robots (UR) has rolled out three different cobot sizes with payloads of 3kg, 5kg and 10 kg, which can be easily integrated into existing production environment. The company has sold over 34,000 cobots around the world that are used in thousands of production environments.

UR's Greater China Region head BK Su noted that his company hopes to develop customized DIY collaborative robotic arms based on client-conceived ideas about key aspects ranging from assembly to execution command, so as to further boost the market acceptability for robotic arms.

Taiwan's Techman Robot, a subsidiary of Quanta Computer, now offers a variety of cobots available in mobile, regular, medium and high payload series, applicable to electronics, food, automobile, semiconductor and panel manufacturing sectors. The firm's cobots can be integrated with pallets into a mobile robotic workstation.