Cobot (Collaborative Robot): The Solution to Enhance Human Resources Skilled in Manufacturing Industry

Collaborative Robot

What are Cobots?

Cobots or collaborative robots are a type of robot intended to work alongside humans. Unlike other types of traditional robots that work in areas separate from humans, collaborative robot can work closely with human workers. The utilization of sensors and software algorithms allows cobots to stop automatically during interference with humans and objects to prevent injuries and collisions.

Level of Cobots

Understanding the different levels of cobots is essential to ensure the manufacturing industry select the best type of cobots for their factories. Below are the levels of cobots:

  • Level 0 (Fenced robot cell), robots and humans work in a different place with no interaction
  • Level 1 (Coexistence), robots and humans work in a different workspace without any physical barriers
  • Level 2 (Synchronized), robots and humans share the same workspace with time-separated work
  • Level 3 (Cooperation), robots and humans shared the workspace, and both can act simultaneously
  • Level 4 (Collaboration), robots and humans work in the same workspace and assisting each other

Cobots in Manufacturing Industry

Collaborative Robot in manufacturing industries is a growing trend since its first introduction in 2008. This is understandably so since cobots offer many advantages to the industry and their human resources.

Cobots can be used in almost all types of industry, especially ones that involve risky, dangerous, dirty, and dull work. It assists human workers to prevent accidents and gives them time to focus on a different aspects of the task.

Cobots are usually more flexible in terms of software and can be programmed to do various and repetitive tasks. Cobots also have a lower chance to make mistakes compared to human workers. This is due to the robots’ easy setup and efficient training time. With its smaller size, cobots are far more mobile compared to traditional robots and can be easily wheeled from one workstation to another.

With regards to market growth, cobots have been one of the most impressive sectors of the robotics industry. The International Federation of Robotic reported that the number of industrial robots operating worldwide increased up to 85% during the last five years (2014-2019) with estimate growth at an annual rate of 40% and Interact Analysis forecasts that annual cobot revenues will reach $1.94 billion in 2028, accounting for 15.7% of the total robot market.

The use of robotic technology in the form of cobots in Indonesia has shown positive results for manufacturers and at the same time aid the government to achieve its vision of Industry 4.0. But in reality, the use of cobots in Indonesia is fairly limited. Data from Universal Robots (UR), a Denmark-based cobots technology in 2019, shows that Indonesia has 440 industrial manufacturing robots for every 10,000 employees.

How Cobots Can Enhance Human Resource Skills

While some people may voice their concern about cobots taking over the job market, this is not true. The presence of cobots actually enhances human resource skills in many ways.

  1. Workers need to adapt to this new challenge by leveraging technology and tool skill. This can be done individually or through the company training system.
  2. New challenge requires a new position to handle different responsibilities, including technology consultants, robot integrators, IT systems, and more.

In short, the availability of cobots requires better human resources skills. It is up to the manufacturers to run a comprehensive analysis of their need for cobots, the type of cobots that match the requirement, how to implement it, and how to prepare suited human resources for the tasks either through training or recruitment.

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