A Cobot does not replace a person, but supports someone in their activities just as tools do.
Cobots, or collaborative robots, are robots intended to support manufacturers when performing detailed physical assembly operations. Our Cobot supports employees of Metafors (our metalwork company) with gluing LED lights into the fixtures of streetlights. A complex but essential part of the assembly process. The cobot is designed to excel at repetitive and precise tasks, thereby facilitating (final) product assembly.
Only few employees are able to perform the gluing process themselves. This increases the risk for unplanned downtime of the production line since people can get sick. The Cobot is always present, causing the production line to remain operational. Because of this we are able to offer people a fitting and sustainable workplace.
Education is another important reason for using the Cobot. Our employees learn to collaborate with robots and are able to experience that (technological) change is not always a threat. We want to make our prepare our employees for the future and teach them the needed skills in the future labour market.
After exploring working Cobots we have started with testing the Sawyer Robot. We are currently implementing this robot in the assembly process at Metafors. Employees of Metafors operate the Cobot themselves and have made a mould so that the gluing could be done without quality loss.
Implementing the Cobot is has not been easy and Amfors does not have a supportive Technical Service or IT-department. Students have helped programming the Cobot. Starting the project, the supplier has been a close partner to us. The gained knowledge is being passed on to our Metafors employees. TNO is (currently) investigating the effect of the Cobot concerning the employability and motivation of the employees and their productivity.