4IR technologies - Cobots

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This week we have been blogging about some of the technologies that manufacturers are using in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, including the Internet of Things and Augmented Reality.

This the third of three blogs on some of the technologies that are being used by manufacturers in the fourth industrial revolution, and how they can improve productivity in businesses.


Our 4IR fact card explores the ways in which manufacturers are investing in new technologies to boost productivity. We have already blogged this week about the barriers that they are facing in adopting these technologies, including at the 'conception' phase, where manufacturers are often unsure of what the technologies are and how they can help.


What are cobots?

A cobot (collaborative robot) is a type of robot that is free of any fencing or enclosures. Cobots are designed for direct physical interaction with humans within a shared workspace. They are intended to work alongside humans, not to replace them. 

Cobots are smaller, safer, less costly and more adaptable to different tasks than traditional robots.

What are the benefits?

They typically work at a higher speed than traditional robots and can generally carry greater loads. They do not require complex programming and can be instructed online by workers.

Due to their size, cobots can be used in small scale and mid scale production, helping them to increase their productivity, as well as for usage in large scale production.

Cobots are useful in manufacturing because they can perform tasks that can be dangerous or difficult for humans to perform, such as heavy lifting or tasks that need a high level of accuracy, or repetitiveness. The usage of cobots to perform repetitive tasks can greatly reduce the risk of human error. By machines performing these tedius and often time-intensive tasks, workers are freed up to do more important work.

Cobots in practice

One communications technology manufacturer usage of cobots alongside human workers reduced their product rejection rate from double digits to less than 1%.

A large defence manufacturer has used cobots in their production for several years. Their use of cobots has increased the execution and speed of  a repetetive task by 10 times. It also provides significant amounts of data that allows workers to determine what techniques work best and which ones affect machine performance.

Are you investing in cobots?

We want to hear your stories of 4IR investment. Share your experiences more widely and help manufacturers like you by emailing 4ircasestudies@eef.org.uk to tell us your story.


Business Environment Policy Adviser

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