Why new generation cobots provide a viable solution to acute industrial labor shortages

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Modern manufacturing enterprises face challenges of increasing labor costs and shortening product delivery times to meet customer and competitive demands. According to the U.S. Labor Department, in 2022, U.S. wages and salaries were up 5.3% on a year-on-year basis−the largest rise in labor costs since 2001. As a result, many firms are adopting technology innovations such as cobots (collaborative robots) to reduce the number of repetitive, manual tasks required of human workers. Statista reports the global market for robotic solutions will reach a 26% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) by 2025.

Compared to traditional robots, cobots perform a similar range of activities but are:

  • Smaller
  • Lighter
  • Able to work more safely with humans
  • More flexible

They are highly efficient, advanced robotic systems with the technology required to perform complex tasks with minimal effort. Cobots perform tasks that often go hand-in-hand with human workers.

Humans and robots working together can speed up production processes, increasing productivity. There’s a wide range of tasks robots and humans can perform together, such as picking or transporting products within distribution centers.

Many manufacturing and logistics organizations are constrained, and adding more people won’t address their production shortfall challenges. For example, space restrictions sometimes limit their ability to increase capacity. Their challenge is to balance costs while meeting expected sales and throughput targets. Cobot solutions can work with existing workers to enable a higher throughput while taking up less space.

Cobot advantages include safety and collaborative human/robot interactive environments

Cobots share all the advantages of advanced robotic and automation technologies but offer reduced programming costs, startup time, and safety protection compared to traditional robots.

Other important cobot advantages include:

  • Increased levels of safety – Cobots create a hybrid work environment that improves safety across various industries and tasks. Built-in functions, such as sensitive collision, can greatly reduce risk when people and robots work together. Perform risk assessments to maximize safety and performance when deploying cobots in industrial environments.
  • Higher return on investment – The efficiency of cobots helps industrial organizations recover their investment costs faster when they modernize their facilities to become smart factories. Implementation usually requires minimal change to existing production layouts. The smaller footprint, reduced setup time, lower operational costs, and easy integration into the existing system enabled by cobot technologies all help increase return on investment.
  • Simplified operations and maintenance – New digital twin software tools, such as EcoStruxure Machine Expert Twin, enable cobot solutions and systems to be designed and tested virtually before real-world implementation. The digital twin model enables users to test control logic in a virtual design and commissioning environment. The approach helps optimize designs and minimize potential errors which could impact overall safety and performance during real-world operations. It also makes it easier to identify efficiency gains opportunities, validate solutions, and make it easier and less costly for organizations to maintain their cobot assets.

For more information

Watch the video below to learn more about how Lexium cobots and EcoStruxure Machine Expert Twin software address modern robotics requirements.

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