ATA Cobots
ATA Cobots

Cobots and Automation: The End of Manufacturing as We Know it?

By ATA Recruitment

​ATA Recruitment work with some of the UK’s largest manufacturers that are embracing automation and using it to further their business. This has inspired us to take a look at one of the newest technological advancements – Cobots.

To kick-start our automation series, we’re taking a look at Cobots and what they mean for manufacturing and engineering. ATA see first-hand the concerns about the ‘robot revolution’ and what it’s going to mean for workers in the future. We have addressed some of these concerns in this blog and highlighted some facts about cobots to debunk some of the common the myths.

What are Cobots in manufacturing?

Cobots, or collaborative robots are reshaping automation in manufacturing by working alongside humans to complete operations. The use of this automation is allowing us to increase productivity and improve products.
 
The first industrial robot was designed by George Devol in 1954 . This prototype was capable of transferring objects from one point to another and coined the term universal automation.
 
Robots were introduced into the manufacturing industry in the 1960s and they have been used since to ease the burden of heavy duty tasks and improve the efficiency of the manufacturing process.
 
Historically, standard robots used in manufacturing have been separated from workers and usually locked in cages. In recent years we’ve seen the birth of Cobots, which no longer just work for humans, but work with them.

Will Cobots replace humans people?

Robots have often been seen as just a fad… massive, clunky, “useless” bits of kit built by engineers. But Cobots are designed to be the future. Some of the key features of collaborative robots are:
 

  • They’re safe for human workers - A Cobot has sensors that detect when a human finger or hand is in the way, avoiding any injuries. This coupled with helping to lift heavy loads mean the older / less able generation have more opportunities.

  • They’re flexible - They no longer need to be caged or cordoned off, so they can be transported around the factory to complete several different jobs making them very cost-effective.

  • They can learn -Some cobots have learning capabilities through artificial intelligence. This means they can learn to understand their tasks while on the job, as supposed to being programmed beforehand.

  • They create job satisfaction - workers comment on how they are getting more job satisfaction as they get to “complete the job” with the Cobot rather than work on parts of it before it is shipped off to another worker.

Are Cobots the End of our Manufacturing Industry?

What does the advent of Cobot mean for the manufacturing industry and those working in it?
 
The ‘Robot Revolution’ is something that has been discussed for many years, but with the global Cobot market set to grow to $11.5 billion by 2025, it’s never been more relevant.
 
A recent study has warned that over 10 million UK jobs could be at risk of being replaced by such robots within 15 years, with an estimated 1.2 million of them being in manufacturing.
 
However, it’s important to consider both sides of the fence – Cobots can relieve humans of the mundane and repetitive jobs of the manufacturing process, which could them allow them to be working on the more skilled elements. Some of the companies using cobots describe them as aides for the ‘dull, dirty and dangerous’ jobs that humans dislike.
 
Technology doesn’t always work and can malfunction, and collaborative robots are no exception. There will always be a need for on-site human labour when dealing with manufacturing and machines. The rise of Cobots would undoubtedly create a higher demand for maintenance and engineers to service them.
 
At ATA there’s a lot of talk about Cobots. We feel that they are not the end of manufacturing – but just perhaps they are the end of manufacturing as we know it. We will be talking to the experts and exploring cobots more in our automation series, subscribe to the blog to ensure you don’t miss out!
 
Automation is undoubtedly going to continue to change the way that we work, but for now what the future holds and how prominent cobots will become in manufacturing is mostly unknown.

ATA Recruitment is an manufacturing and engineering recruitment agency with a difference. Our internal database includes over 40,000 relevant and engaged engineers not available on job boards. ATA find out more than just candidates job history – we identify goals and motivations to ensure a complete match with the values of our client’s businesses.

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