First Time Using a Cobot? – Here’s 6 Tips

Collaborative robots, or cobots, have been around since the early 2000s, but their popularity and growth has surged in recent years.

Because they are still fairly new technology, it may be intimidating to work with and around them.

Most people are familiar with traditional robots-those that require extensive external safety measures to ensure safe operation, such as fencing area scanners, or other physical barriers.

Given the familiarity with these traditional robots, it's understandable that there may be some hesitation when it comes to cobots.

That's why we want to provide you with some tips and tricks to help you transition from working with traditional robots to the much safer cobot.

Cobots - The Basics

Cobots are called collaborative robots because they are created specifically for collaboration with human workers.

Unlike traditional robots, cobots come equipped with internal safety sensors that allow them to stop immediately upon contact.

These built-in safety features enable cobots to operate on the manufacturing floor without the need to external area scanners or fencing, which is a significant advantage for companies looking to automate with limited space.

FANUC CRX Cobot Lineup

Tips for Working with Cobots

The enhanced safety features of cobots make working with automation safer and more straightforward than ever.

However, there are still best practices to ensure that the collaboration between human workers and cobots remains safe and efficient.

Think of it like riding a bike – while it is generally safe, there are still proper and improper ways to use it.

Cobots are no different.

6 Tips for Working with Cobots

1. Trained Personnel

Only trained personnel should work alongside a moving cobot. Proper training ensures that everyone understands how to interact safely with the cobot.

2. Projected Path

Cobots are programmed to follow a specific path and will not deviate from this path unless it is reprogrammed to do so. Always maintain a safe distance from the cobot's projected path to avoid accidental contact.

Collaborative robot working next to human worker

3. No Loose Clothing

Avoid wearing loose clothing, jewelry, or having loose hair around cobots. These can get caught in the machinery and cause accidents.

4. Understand Signal Lights and Sounds

Systems that utilize cobots often have lights and sounds to communicate the cobot's status and alert workers if any action is required. Ensure that all personnel are trained to understand these signals.

5. Regular Maintenance

Perform regular maintenance and inspections on the cobot to keep it in safe working condition. This preventative measure helps avoid unexpected malfunctions that could pose safety risks.

6. Understand the Risk Assessments

At Zeta Group, before we install any cobot systems we do a thorough risk assessment. These assessments are crucial to identify and mitigate potential hazards, ensuring a safe work environment.

This is not an exhaustive list of all the ways to work safely with cobots, but by following these tips, you can have a starting point for ensuring a smooth and safe experience when integrating cobots into your workflow. Make sure to work with a trained and certified robotic integrator to make your integration process smooth and safe.

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Zeta Group Engineering is a robotic integrator and conveyor manufacturer based in Wrightstown, Wisconsin.

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