Industrial Robotic Beginnings
For the better part of the last 3 decades, robots have been designed to be fixed in one location on one high volume repetitive job. The ROI was simple; create an apparatus that can work longer, faster, cheaper and more reliably than a human on tasks that have extremely high demand and high volume. Automotive fit the mold for this type of automation and quickly adopted the technology for their repetitive and substantial assembly lines.
Fast forward today and a new type of robotic system has been making a stir in the automation market. Collaborative robots or cobots, first introduced in industrial settings in the late 2000’s, have exploded in use cases the last decade. Known most for being safe to interact with humans, collaborative robots tout other advantages such as easier to program, lighter weight and lower costs to acquire compared to standard industrial robots. No longer has there been a need for extremely high volumes to justify the business case for acquiring a robot. All types of manufacturing such as high mix low volume jobs can benefit from the cost savings and efficiency gained from automation.