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Cobot vision for productivity

20 April 2016

A wide range of sectors can benefit from the resource and capability that robots can bring – and it won’t necessarily equate to a loss of jobs. In fact, it does quite the opposite, and can also enhance the career paths of human employees, says Earl Yardley, director at Industrial Vision Systems

Industrial Vision Systems has been providing vision systems for collaborative robots for some time and this has been enhancing the company’s overall productivity offering. The new generation of affordable lightweight robots is unlocking new markets and applications as they work side by side with human workers, increasing labour and total factor productivity and eliminating the need for costly precision fixtures allowing different parts to be processed and inspected without changing tools.

There is a real opportunity for organisations to utilise robots for the inspection of complex components as well as utilising robots for more pick and place applications. This, in turn, can have a significantly impact on the bottom-line of a business. In fact, a 2015 report from Barclays Bank titled ‘Future Proofing UK Manufacturing’ revealed that investing £1.2bn into manufacturing processes to increase robotics and automation over the next decade could add as much as £60.5bn to the UK economy. More than half (58%) of British manufacturers from the survey said they already invest in automation, and 68% believe there are opportunities for further investment in the future. It is clear that industries throughout the UK are turning a robotic corner when it comes to quality inspection checks.

Impact myth

There is this myth, however, that there is always a short-term impact on employment and if you put a robot in to do a job that a person is currently doing, then the person is replaced. Collaborative robots are in fact designed to assist human workers with inspection processes, not replace them. This actually relieves the human worker of more commonplace work meaning they are typically redeployed to higher value tasks that robots cannot do. In the future, inspection benches will include space for an operator and a robot to work in partnership as part of the quality control process of production.

Working with collaborative robots also has the added advantage of working safely and effectively in workspaces occupied by humans. It is vital however, that worker safety should be a top priority in all robotic environments. Measures must be introduced to avoid robot-related accidents when humans and robots are sharing the same workspace. This can include using simulation software to plan out and test robotic concepts, create adaptive zones, define robot speeds, and revisit the regulations.

By offering ready-to-run inspection solutions utilising robots and vision in tandem, we are opening a new era for real time machine vision inspection. When it can be deployed, collaborative robots are generally easier to use than the traditional models. At Industrial Vision Systems not only do we have off-the-shelf integration for all major robot manufacturers but we also utilise the robots for the inspection of complex components as well as providing positioning feedback to the robot.

Collaborative robots will render old business models to the scrapheap

Automation improves productivity and quality, and so improves the competitiveness of a company. They key is to ensure robots are designed with day-to-day use in mind, that they are more programmable and adaptable to different environments. The future of manufacturing is evolving and for the greater good of the global economy. Collaborative robots will transform the world beyond recognition and render old business models to the scrapheap. It is our firm belief that any business that fails to embrace the robot revolution will slip rapidly behind their competitors.

Launched in 2000, IVS manage the design, installation and commissioning of quality control vision systems for manufacturing companies. Their vision systems are used for inspection, guidance, identification, measurement, tracking and counting. Its systems are some of the most innovative and advanced machine vision solutions on the market today, successfully deployed in thousands of systems around the world.

Key Points

  • Working side by side with humans, a new generation of affordable lightweight robots is unlocking new markets and applications
  • Ready-to-run inspection solutions utilising robots and vision in tandem, we are opening a new era for real time machine vision inspection
  • Inspection benches can include space for an operator and a robot to work in partnership as part of the quality control process of production

 
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