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The age of collaborative robots

Shermine Gotfredsen, General Manager, Southeast Asia & Oceania, Universal Robots | Dec. 19, 2016
The age of collaborative robots, presents the benefits of co-bots as tools to help ASEAN businesses increase productivity and efficiency in many business processes, thus helping to maintain their competitive edge.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Shermine Gotfredsen, General Manager, Southeast Asia & Oceania, Universal Robots

As a region, ASEAN has consistently outpaced the rest of the world in the growth of GDP per capita since the late 1970s. The region sits at the intersection of global flows, and the recent implementation of AEC has provided greater economic cooperation in the areas of financial policies, trade, and human capital - turning ASEAN into a more competitive region.

This introduction of a single market and production base has also enabled businesses in the region to access more resources at a lower cost, providing further opportunities for growth. However, navigating this competitive business landscape demands businesses to continue to acknowledge the latest developments and technological advancements in the region, with the AEC providing a platform for expansion and innovation.

One such technology that can play an important role in maintaining competitiveness is automation, which is gaining momentum through collaborative robots (co-bots). While automation and industrial robots have been in the manufacturing and related industries for decades, the new age co-bots have started to revolutionise many industries. With six articulated joints, and a wide scope of flexibility, they are designed to mimic the range of motion of a human arm.

From packaging or gluing, to being an extra pair of hands in busy kitchens, co-bots are increasingly being used in tandem with humans in a shared workspace, which stands in stark contrast to industrial robots which were traditionally designed to operate autonomously, or with very limited guidance.

The many faces of a cobot

In today's customer-centric world, businesses have to adapt and prioritise their customers' needs. Co-bots provide businesses with the advantages of advanced robotic automation, with none of the traditional added costs associated with robot programming, set-up, and dedicated, shielded work cells. As a result, co-bots typically have a much shorter payback period as compared to traditional robots.

In addition, co-bots can be programmed to perform a wide range of automation processes, enabling the personalisation of tasks. As such, businesses can leverage on the flexibility of these co-bots to meet their production needs. For example, global healthcare company, Johnson & Johnson, has successfully adopted co-bots in their production line to automate packaging, thus optimising production and allowing employees to focus on higher level tasks.

Co-bots also make the working environment a safer place to operate in, which is a particularly consideration for millennials. Co-bots are built to take on jobs that are unsafe for humans, such as lifting heavy loads, or in hazardous conditions - and are able to perform these strenuous tasks with consistency and precision. In addition, co-bots can also be used in more repetitive tasks, such as packaging or gluing, leaving the human brain to take on more stimulating challenges.


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