Collaborative robots are bringing automation to the supply chain in ways never imagined before. From the production line to distribution, packaging, warehousing and even last-mile deliveries. Unlike industrial robots of old, modern Cobots provide a high level of versatility and can be quite easy and cheap to deploy.

With this in mind, we’ve come up with a compilation of ways you can utilize Cobots to enhance your supply chain processes. Cobots are fantastic in helping workers handle routine tasks. They also come with enhanced capabilities.

1.  Warehouse Operations

Cobots have been used to drive today’s increasingly demanding e-commerce warehouses. One of the ways this technology is used in a modern warehouse is in the picking and placing of items. It is estimated that a human worker can only pick about 80 items per hour without a break while a robot helper can do about 200. 

Modern e-commerce warehouses can use collaborative robots to assist warehouse workers in handling a large number of orders in a short period. Same-day deliveries have been achieved by the scaling of Cobot deployments in the warehouse based on demand. Since they are quite flexible and re-programmable, they can be used for a wide array of tasks in the warehouse including but not limited to: picking/placing; sorting items, attaching labels; moving things across the warehouse, etc.

Here are some of the reasons you might want to consider having Cobots in your warehouse as compared to traditional robots.

  • They can be used for simple tasks
  • Are much easier to implement
  • They require less training 
  • They can be deployed alongside human workers to enhance processes
  • Easy programmability
  • They can be redeployed quickly based on demand
  • They are relatively cheap to acquire and run 
  • They are generally safer to work with as compared to traditional robots

2.  Manufacturing Processes

Cobots are replacing some traditional robots on the factory floors across the world. This can be attributed in part to their versatility and low operational costs. With the full range of flexible robot arms and EOATs available, factories can use this equipment for most processes. Those involved in the manufacture of bespoke products can enjoy their flexibility to handle rapid changes in production requirements and procedures.

Small manufacturers are especially encouraged to look towards Cobots for automation. Besides their affordability, collaborative robots can provide these small players the much-needed efficiency to compete with bigger competitors. Indeed, we’ve already seen some small factories across the world using similar solutions with a lot of success.

3.  Value Addition

Cobots are increasingly used to aid human workers in value addition. Some of the applications in this area include things like: adding decorations using lasers engravers; mixing materials to create new products; labeling; packaging, among others. They can increase efficiency and accuracy in value addition processes.

Performing Dangerous Tasks

Some of the tasks in the supply chain can be dangerous to human workers. These are the kind of tasks that were left to highly specialized personnel in the past. They can include things like; handling toxic materials, lifting heavy items, high precision cutting, among others. 

Collaborative robots can handle these dangerous tasks hence reducing the need to risk human workers. This is good for safety and can reduce the insurance burden for many businesses in the supply chain.

1.  Deliveries Using Robots

Believe it or not, but modern collaborative robots are being used to do last-mile deliveries. We’ve already seen examples of robots that can deliver items to the customer’s door and even those that hand out items in retail spaces. The flexible robot arms can be equipped with the appropriate EOATs and with applicable AI, mimic the human hand to interact with things and customers.

Final Words

There are so many other areas in the supply chain where Cobots can be deployed. As this technology takes root and gains popularity, we shall see more and more collaborative robots in the supply chain and other industries. One thing remains certain; they are here to stay.

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