More than 81 million vehicles will be sold around the world in 2018. While the global automotive production industry employs more than 8 million people, experts predict that won’t be enough to keep up with sales. More companies are turning to collaborative robots (cobots) to help fill jobs and complete a number of tasks in the space. And while it’s true that the industry still relies heavily on traditional industrial robots for much of the heavily lifting involved in production, assembly and painting, increasingly, cobots play a key role in a number of areas:
- Completing tasks that humans don’t like doing: Imagine stacking parts off a conveyor belt all day, working with superheated materials like metal or glue, or tending a CNC machine as it builds a gearbox or chassis. All three jobs are critical, but can also be tiresome, dangerous or monotonous. Cobots can take on the routine, backbreaking, dull work, or reduce human exposure to dangerous materials. And while CNC machining brings precision and efficiency to automotive factories, tending them all day is pretty tedious: Cobots ensure they’re tended to without taking up the valuable time and attention of a human resource.
- Manufacturing automotive component parts: Vehicles are assembled from hundreds of component parts – from the intricate parts in the engine, instrument panels on the dashboard, and the upholstery and interior elements, to the wipers, defrosters and mirrors. Most of those components are designed and built elsewhere, then shipped to the final assembly destination, and cobots play a key role in their production. From installing gears in transmissions to assembling and inspecting defrosters, cobots ensure that various pieces of automobiles are in perfect shape before they roll onto the showroom floor.
- Collaborating with other robots: Large, traditional industrial robots aren’t safe for humans to work alongside. For this reason, they are separated from people by heavy cages – but cobots can work closely with traditional robots without fear, and therefore play an integral role on the automotive line. Cobots can feed parts to another robot for painting or spot welding, without risking the safety of a person.
Collaborative robots are making life easier for manufacturers across industries, and the automotive world is no different. With a low price point, small footprint and quick ROI, cobots will continue to lend their support in the automotive world for years to come.
Interested in automating more on your factory floor? Check out how Sawyer can help fill your automotive manufacturing needs.
About the Author
Sue has spent the last two decades marketing for emerging technologies, building new categories, and applying science to the art of marketing. It took one look at Baxter to sign on to Rethink Robotics – a human-safe robot out to change the world. When not promoting “all things Sawyer and Baxter”, she is focused on “all things food”: where to eat it, how to prepare it, how to write another cookbook about it.