VIDEO: Why Collaborative Robots Help Human Workers Rather Than Replace Them

Soft skin, manageable speeds and intelligent sensing are the key to cobots like FANUC’s CR-35iA.

Most manufacturers are well-acquainted with yellow robots, a hallmark of FANUC.

But what about the green ones?

In the video above, we discuss the advantages of cobots in general and FANUC’s CR-35iA in particular with Greg Buell, senior engineer of collaborative robots at FANUC America Corp.

“The CR-35iA is safe to work around without fencing,” Buell explained. “The reason why we gave it the green color is to differentiate it from the conventional yellow robots.”

What makes the CR-35iA collaborative is a combination of size, speed, sensor technology and soft skin. To help ensure human safety, cobots employ force and power limiting features.

“This robot senses external forces, so if the robot does bump into you it will stop,” Buell explained. “Users can restart the robot with the push of a button to send it on its way. The robot also has a soft foam covering so if a robot does bump into you, it will give you a secondary level of protection.”

The promise of safety that comes with cobots is an attractive one, so much so that some may ask whether the collaborative model will push conventional industrial robots, or even human workers, out of the market.

Buell points out that due to speed and strength limits for safety purposes, this won’t happen. “Where we’re seeing a lot of use for this robot is not so much in putting it in place of an operator, but working with humans in existing applications.

“For example, in the typical motor assembly process, the operator would have to be lifting motors to put them into the work station or use a pneumatic lift-assist device. In many factories, these devices are not very operator friendly and operators who don’t like them will do the lifting themselves, which leads to a lot of ergonomic issues,” Buell explained. “Collaborative robots can do a lot of the repetitive and heavy lifting work, while keeping the operator in place for parts of the process where you really need the human operator interaction.”

For more information on the advantages behind cobots, watch the full video above and visit the FANUC America website

Written by

James Anderton

Jim Anderton is the Director of Content for Mr. Anderton was formerly editor of Canadian Metalworking Magazine and has contributed to a wide range of print and on-line publications, including Design Engineering, Canadian Plastics, Service Station and Garage Management, Autovision, and the National Post. He also brings prior industry experience in quality and part design for a Tier One automotive supplier.