Robots that work alongside human operators in assembly and on production lines can provide many benefits to companies, including cost savings, increased efficiency, improved safety and greater employee satisfaction.
That’s according to Dan Buckley who recently set up Cobots.ie with his brother Martin.
The two, who have been at the helm of mechanical design and build engineering company Innovative Total Solutions (ITS) for 25 years, recognised the potential of collaborative robots for industry.
They partnered with pioneering Danish company Universal Robots in 2015, setting up Cobots.ie, a sister company to ITS, in late 2018 to focus on the distribution and integration of collaborative robots - or cobots.
The Midleton-based team of 19 across ITS and Cobots.ie has worked with well-known brands such as Apple, Bausch & Lomb, Honeywell, Boston Scientific, Ferrero and Stryker.
Cobots are used as assistants to human operators in assembly and production across a range of industries including food, manufacturing and medical devices. They are interactive, which means they can also be programmed to work with other cobots for a wider variety of use cases.
Universal Robots is a world leader in collaborative robots, or cobots, with about 60% share of the global market. Its UR-series has three robots which can be customised for a company’s needs by attaching tools and accessories.
Companies from a pizza producer to a medical device manufacturer can use cobots to cut costs, improve safety and boost employee morale by automating tedious and hazardous tasks, Mr Buckley said.
He said that the UR-series is simple to programme and can be set up from the box in one hour. He likens it to the simplicity of using an iPad.
"It’s very user-friendly; anyone could get it to do a movement in five minutes."
Since ITS partnered with Universal Robots it has also become a distributor for other robotics brands, including Robotiq, On Robot, PickIt 3D, Easy Robotics and Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR).
Training in the UR series is provided by Cobots.ie to its clients, eliminating the need for specialist knowledge. Core and advanced courses are provided for the UR series over two days and include programming, safety and customisation of the cobots with tools and accessories.
On completion of the training, graduates will be able to optimise functionality of the cobots in-house.
Among the benefits of using cobots is the reduction of risks involved in heavy lifting and repetitive strain injury. The cobots can take on the strenuous and repetitive tasks leaving the human employees free to focus on quality control and highly skilled and more rewarding work.