Are cobots the future of your manufacturing business? Collaborative robots can share the same space with your employees and help you automate the processes and systems that keep tying up your team’s time and energy. Guest speaker, Elias Serruya shares his passion for innovative thinking and why a future of cobots may just be your manufacturing dream-come-true.
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Elias shares his story of pursuing the future in innovation and automation while climbing the ladder at his father-in-law’s manufacturing company, EJ Basler. Beginning as an engineering intern, he quickly learned the ins and outs of the trade and made note of where processes could be made more efficient. Always asking the question, “How could this be made better?” Elias found his passion realized in building and implementing cobots and robots.
Elias explains that the automation offered by robotics and cobotics is mechatronics - the combination of mechanical and electronic systems. Mechatronic automation covers all the bases for a machine shop by combining software, mechanics, mathematics, chemistry, the cloud, and electronics for a truly all-encompassing automated system. As manufacturing leaders understand, time is money - and the more time their employees can spend on the tasks that require their expertise and less on the menial busywork - the better.
Elias unpacks the differences between robots and cobots and why cobots are a financially savvy investment for your manufacturing business. Unlike robots, cobots don’t need their own designated space with safety lines and regulations. Cobots (collaborative robots) share the same workspace as your employees and interact directly in your employees’ environment. Because they don’t need their own floor or taped-off space, and because they can’t hurt humans in their operations, there is no need to spend money and resources on building a separate and safety-ensured space on your shop floor. Cobots are slower in their movements and don’t have the huge amount of velocity behind them that regular, mechanical robots possess. If you touch a cobot outside of the designated process, they turn off. They are built to work with you - not overpower you.
Are cobots for everybody? Elias explains that while the role of the cobots might change, they are useful in both low and high-production manufacturing businesses. A good strategy for both types would be to locate where you need to automate within the business. Where is time being wasted or being used inefficiently? What jobs - if freed up - could make room for greater growth and progress? Inspection and processing parts could be done by a cobot instead of your employees, allowing them to focus on work that requires their skill and expertise.
Elias shares the processes he uses to know where to implement automation within EJ Basler. Watching company costs is an extremely helpful way to see where your manufacturing team could benefit from the help of cobots. Taking a walk through your shop floor can also provide insight into identifying where processes could be made more efficient. If you are struggling with finding good hires, then using a cobot to make up the difference will save your team countless hours and headaches.
Cobots are trained by recording points in space - through logging specific conditions that build the logic of a certain job. Once all the steps have been taught to the cobot, it can carry out its task. For jobs that require unique grippers or handling parts, new grippers and tools can be 3D printed or made for the cobot. Even though cobots are serving in the role of automation, their workflow is in the hands of you and your team. Not comfortable with just one master controller? Use several for each part of the process so that you can have the flexibility of updating and controlling just one aspect of the job at hand.
Elias explains that automation is not only useful to your team - it’s attractive to your clients. When customers see that you are trying to keep up with the times, be progressive, and constantly improve, they will be more trusting and impressed by your diligence to keep on the cutting edge of manufacturing technology. The robotics industry is only growing, and those that want to keep up in the Metal Working Nation need to be thinking about how they can be progressive. Be sure to listen to the entire episode for examples of how Elias has used cobotics at EJ Basler and why cobots might need to be the next big step for your business.