The ultimate logistics upgrade: Why cobots are the one tool you need to gain a competitive advantage
By Jake Ellis on 20 December 2022
Global talent shortages and increasing costs have negatively affected many businesses production capabilities. It has been hard enough simply to get the workers needed to meet production demand, let alone compete against your rivals.
Luckily, technology can help. Cobots are the ultimate logistics upgrade for your business. Collaborative robots are designed to work alongside your existing employees rather than to replace human workers. As such, they require a smaller initial investment in traditional industrial robots and provide a much faster return on investment. This is all while they provide a significant boost to your production capabilities.
With the current pressures on production capabilities looking likely to last, companies cannot ignore collaborative robots if they want to achieve production success.
Table of contents
What are the biggest production challenges facing business?
Any manufacturing business will know that the market has been very tough lately. Since the end of the pandemic, many workers have moved away from full time employment or changed their job for better pay and conditions. Rather than remaining loyal to one employer, workers have re-evaluated their work life balance and have sought roles that are more intellectually stimulating and creative. This is has pushed workers away from roles that are tedious and are comprised of repetitive tasks on the production line.
Similarly, there has also been a significant increase in the costs of good, services and raw materials. This has squeezed margins for every business and especially those in the manufacturing sector. This is because they are a prime and heavy consumer of these goods in the production process. This includes basic costs such as energy, as many manufacturers have seen their bills soar. But businesses cannot play a waiting game in the hope that these challenges sort themselves out. Instead, it is clear these businesses need to adapt their business models and change their production process to meet these challenges.
Industrial robots vs collaborative robots (cobots)
Up until now, business leaders have had very little to combat this. Industrial robots are often too expensive for many small businesses, in some cases where they will outperform a cobot. For very large businesses that know exactly how to integrate robots and automation within their production process, large industrial robots would most likely be best suited.
For all other applications, cobots offer a significantly better value proposition. They have a lower financial barrier to entry, are much safer when working in smaller areas and have the flexibility and adaptability to move around the production layout of your workspace.
The main benefits of cobots
Cobots can be used in any production design and work alongside humans to boost the overall production capability of your business. These are the productivity-boosting benefits cobots can offer.
1. Increased productivity
Repetitive tasks on production lines can be tiresome and tedious for human workers. However, these are the best tasks to give to cobots. Cobots can work relentlessly on the same heavy duty task over and over again. In fact, they are designed to perform roles for as long as they are needed to. This includes tasks such as picking and packing large objects in order, as well as more delicate precision tasks that require the cobot to carefully limit the amount of force it exerts.
They also require very little maintenance during their lifetime. In fact, the only parts of a collaborative robot that may need to be maintained are the accessories, such as grippers and suction cups, in vacuum-based robots. This means that the running costs of a cobot are largely comprised of the electricity they cost to run, and have very few extra maintenance costs. This means they provide a quick return on investment for most businesses.
2. Advanced profitability
In addition to increasing productivity, collaborative robots are a much more profitable production design plan comprising solely of human workers with very little automation.
Introducing a cobot can help increase the accuracy of your production process and reduce delays. Reducing overall production costs has a significant effect on the overall profitability of your business.
3. Better work-life balance for human workers
It’s important to ensure that you create a positive work environment in your business. Studies show that happy human workers ensure increased productivity and reduced production delays. Monotonous tasks pose a risk to this, as they can often lead to fatigue that can reduce staff morale.
By integrating a cobot within production design, you can not only increase the efficiency of the production process and product quality, but also provide workers with a better work-life balance. Your team can focus on more creative tasks, which are more intellectually stimulating. This itself can help improve retention, as workers find they are often better paid in more skilled roles than working repetitive tasks.
4. Flexible and adaptable
Cobots are specifically designed to work alongside humans. As such, they are programmed to perform a variety of tasks throughout their lifetime. Because they are smaller in size than traditional industrial robots, they have been designed to be easily moved from one workspace to another.
When doing this, it is important that cobots can be easily reprogrammed and taught new tasks. Hand guiding cobots can be easily trained by a human worker to perform a new task. It is much easier and quicker to program a cobot than traditional robots, and this means they cause less disruption to production lines thereby reducing operating costs. This makes them perfect for manufacturers that operate on a high-mix low-volume (HMLV) process.
Why companies cannot ignore cobots if they want to achieve production success
There is no doubt that current markets are increasingly competitive and with talent shortages rife, it has become harder for businesses to find a competitive advantage over their rivals. Collaborative robots offer both small and large manufacturing businesses a rare chance to achieve a competitive advantage.
Automating your production design and integrating a cobot into your workspace is essential for business is looking to gain a competitive advantage over their rivals, and it is easier than you think. With a relatively low initial cost of investment needed for a cobot, automation is achievable for both small and large businesses. This is especially true given that they often provide a return on investment within 2 years.
For human workers, repetitive tasks that require a low level of creativity and a high level of demand can reduce worker morale. If you do not address this within your business you risk losing your top talent in the market were finding replacement is not easily done. Instead, it is much easier for manufacturers to transform the production design of the process by using cobalt to work alongside humans and aid in production. This will help to reduce the tedious repetitive tasks facing workers and has the ability to transform not only your production techniques but also worker morale.
The biggest reason why cobots are not expanding at a greater rate than they already are is being of the lack of knowledge and awareness for the solution building they offer. This is primarily because they are not an off the shelf product and have to be integrated into existing manufacturing workspaces and processes.
Luckily, a technology partner like Automate can help. They will be able to guide you through the personalised cobot design tailored for your business. This will include the sourcing, installation and ongoing support to ensure that your cobot solution can adapt to your business needs as you grow.
Cobots are essential for maintaining a competitive advantage
Cobots are the ultimate upgrade for your logistics process. They have the ability to boost your production capabilities by increasing both worker morale and efficiency, while delivering a rapid return on investment. As a result, manufacturers need to take cobots seriously. Failure to integrate automation within your production design will only prove to give your rivals a competitive advantage ahead of you. Luckily, with the right technology partner, this has become easier than ever.
The biggest benefit that cobots can offer your business is an appreciation of the art of the possible. Most companies do not know what they can achieve or realise the potential that automation could bring their business.
Automate Partner is an experienced technology partner for small and large businesses looking to integrate cobots into their logistical and production plans. With over 25 years of experience in the industry, along with more than 300 projects completed for satisfied customers, we know how to deliver effective best-in-class solutions.
We can guide your business through every step of the design, planning and implementation process, while also providing full aftercare and support once your cobot has been installed.
Get in touch with us today for a no obligation consultation with one of our production design consultants, who will be able to answer your questions and talk you through a personalised design.