Industry 4.0 and collaborative Robots for small and medium sized companies

This presentation will not be an advertising product presentation, but more on a general robot expertise level, digging into generic, brand-independent considerations.
It is aiming to help potential robot users to find ground under their feet, by learning the key decision making points in those two (connected) technologies.

Both Industry 4.0 and Collaborative Robots are hot buzzwords these days. Not easy to identify what is future, what is real ?
While large companies have teams doing excessive research and technology scouting, play with technology and rectify this with strategical investments into the future, small and medium sized companies are much more straight forward and cautious, pragmatically looking for reliable products which are available now, with reasonable ROI and low implementation risk.

Part 1
In terms of Digital Factory, our Software Yaskawa Connected Factory is an example of an easy to install, easy to configure and easy to use I4.0 software for everyone. It addresses condition monitoring, asset management, live data monitoring, and collects production data for sophisticated analysis and process improvements. It‘s modular software structure makes growth possible – from production cell level to line level to corporate level, capturing the benefits of Industry 4.0 digital transformation now.

Part 2
In the last years, the collaborative robot market grew rapidly and mixed up the established robot world. With ease of-use and fresh user experience, cobots motivated people to start their robotics journey, and addressed a wide field of applications which have not yet been covered by the old-school robotics guys. Cobots are an exciting concept, but in the end they are complementing (not replacing) the possibilities of robotics. Through some years of sobering cobot discussions about disappointing payload and cycle time capabilities and underestimated safety normatives, and finding out that most of the cobots end up behind a safety fence, we realized that cobot things are not that bright and easy if you take professional industrial implementations seriously. Finding the right automation concept for a robotic application is still the key, regardless if the considerations would result into a collaborative solution or not. A good robot solution and ROI is not just about the robot unit’s price (by the way, a cobot is not cheaper than an industrial robot…). A mature discussion involves aspects like the right user interface (Hand guiding vs. Smart pendant vs. classical pendant), safety and risk analysis including grippers, fixtures, workpieces and collision potential situations (we learned to talk about safe applications, not about safe robots), reasonable payload and reach, cycle time (depending on the Man-Robot-Interaction ratio), the plug&play gripper & tooling ecosystem and planning tools.

Talare: Dr.-Ing. Michael Klos, General Manager Business Development, Yaskawa Europe GmbH