Cobots are robots design to work safely alongside human workers in factory or warehouse settings. Short for ‘collaborative robot,” they are in many ways similar to other industrial robots used in manufacturing. Automation allows them to be programmed for specific tasks like assembly, picking and packing, material handling or quality control. This enables their human coworkers to focus on tasks for which human capabilities are better, such as those requiring reasoning and acquired skills.
Cobots differ from regular robots in that they work in close proximity to their human colleagues. Through the use of sensors and complex algorithms, they can be programmed, allowing manufacturers to create custom automation solutions. Unlike other industrial automation, engineering enables cobots to stop when obstacles, including humans, get in their way. Additionally, on rare occasions when they do make impact, the force they exert is minimal, insufficient to cause injuries or damage.
Customizing Automation: Top Manufacturers of Collaborative Robots
Due to their capabilities, manufacturers are increasingly utilizing the benefits of cobots in production. This includes small and medium-sized businesses as well as larger enterprises.
The benefits of using cobots include:
- Ability to achieve quick return on investment (ROI)
- Better utilization of human workers
- Increased productivity
- Reduction in overall manufacturing costs
Below is a list of 2022’s top five cobot manufacturers, chosen for their various strengths.
Top 5 Cobot Manufacturers in 2022
Founded in 2005, Universal Robots makes four cobot models. All its cobots offer six degrees of freedom, allow greater flexibility and are easily integrated into industrial environments. Widely used in manufacturing, automation applications include quality control and inspection, picking and placing, general assembly, injection molding, palletizing and packaging.
Universal Robots makes the following cobots with varying payload and reach capabilities:
- UR3e: carries a payload of 3 kg (6.6 pounds), with a reach of 500 mm (19.7 inches).
- UR5e: carries a payload of 5 kg (11 pounds), with a reach of 850 mm (33.5 inches).
- UR10e: carries a payload of 12.5 kg (27.55 pounds), with a reach of 1300 mm (51.2 inches).
- UR16e: carries a payload of 16 kg (35.3 pounds), with a reach of 900 mm (35.4 inches).
Cobots made by Universal Robots are generally used for more heavy industrial purposes.
Since 2014, Locus Robotics has fabricated custom automation solutions, which enable companies to operate their fulfillment and logistics systems more efficiently. Cobots made by Locus:
- Allow warehouse workers to pick three times faster.
- Connect effortlessly with existing infrastructure.
- Enable warehouses and fulfillment centers to use less labor.
- Require no reconfiguring, as this is done by Locus.
- Doesn’t interrupt operations.
The company’s LocusEmpower solution allows manufacturers to set cobots for their own operational requirements while continuing with their current pick and pack procedures. This pilot program permits comparisons between new and existing processes to increase productivity.
AUBO Robotics started in 2015 from a collaboration between three professors from China and the United States who were all interested in automation. Engineering a range of intelligent and lightweight robots with load capacities from 3-16 kg (6.6-35.3 pounds), the company developed their i-series cobots to work within numerous industries. With ample configuration options, their cobots’ capabilities make them extremely versatile and capable of performing well across a variety of applications.
AUBO’s i-series cobots are used in the production of:
- Chemical products
- Communications equipment
- Consumer electronics
- Household appliances
- Medical implements
Along with their manufacturing capabilities, AUBO’s cobots are also used in scientific research, education, catering, ecommerce, healthcare and logistics. Their robot arm combines both high-tech and user-friendly solutions, utilizing open-source architecture that supports its use for academic, industrial and research purposes.
As one of the older companies dealing with engineering automation equipment for industry, FANUC started production with a single product in 1956. It began making cobots in 2015 with its CR-35iA, capable of lifting heavy payloads while working alongside humans. The company currently makes eight different cobots, offering diverse options depending on the application.
FANUC’s eight cobots have the following payload and reach capabilities:
- CR-4iA: carries a payload of 4 kg (8.8 pounds), with a reach of 550 mm (21.7 inches).
- CR-7iA: carries a payload of 7 kg (15.4 pounds), with a reach of 717 mm (28.2 inches).
- CR-7iA/L: carries a payload of 7 kg (15.4 pounds), with a reach of 911 mm (35.9 inches).
- CRX-10iA: carries a payload of 10 kg (22 pounds), with a reach of 1249 mm (49.2 inches).
- CRX-10iA/L: carries a payload of 10 kg (22 pounds), with a reach of 1418 mm (55.8 inches).
- CR-14iA/L: carries a payload of 14 kg (30.9 pounds), with a reach of 911 mm (35.9 inches).
- CR-15iA: carries a payload of 15 kg (33.1 pounds), with a reach of 1441 mm (56.7 inches).
- CR-35iA: carries a payload of 35 kg (77 pounds), with a reach of 1813 mm (71.4 inches).
Along with its diversity in cobot models, FANUC’s custom automation capabilities even allow it to automate whole assembly lines.
A leader in industrial automation, Stäubli Robotics is recognized for the safety, effectiveness and consistency of its automation. Engineering and technical support are above par, while the company’s TX2 range of cobots offers a variety of safety features that allow it to safely work with human coworkers to increase overall productivity.
The TX2 range’s safety features include:
- Safe limited speed: Cobot reduces speed when the operator enters the environment, returning to full speed once the operator leaves.
- Safe stop: When an operator approaches, the cobot slows, stopping to interact with the operator then starting when the interaction ends.
- Safe zones: This feature ensures limited arm performance within predefined areas.
- Safe tool: This supervises cobot’s tools or grippers, along with speed and dimension.
- Safe touch with TX2touch version: When coming in contact with an operator, the cobot reacts in 10 milliseconds, making any contact harmless.
Stäubli’s cobots feature compact arms and large working envelopes that allow manufacturers to optimally maximize workspace. Able to be mounted on ceilings, floors and walls, their various configurations allow easier integration into production lines. As such, they suit a variety of applications in numerous industries.
Stäubli’s six basic cobot types have the following payload and reach capabilities:
- TX2-40: carries a payload of 2 kg (4.4 pounds), with a reach of 515 mm (20.3inches).
- TX2-60/TX2-60L: carries payloads between 3.7-4.5 kg (8.2-9.9 pounds), with reaches between 670-920 mm (26.4-36.2 inches).
- TX2-90/TX2-90L/TX2-90XL: carries payloads between 7-14 kg (15.4-30.9 pounds), with reaches between 1000-1450 mm (39.4-57.1 inches).
- TX2-140: carries a payload of 40 kg (88.2 pounds), with a reach of 1510 mm (59.4 inches).
- TX2-160/TX2-160L: carries payloads between 25-40 kg (55.1-88.2 pounds), with reaches between 1710-2010 mm (67.3-79.1 inches).
- TX200/TX200L: carries payloads between 80-130 kg (176.4-286.6 pounds), with reaches between 2194-2594 mm (86.4-102.1 inches).
When Stäubli’s cobots are used in environments that involve heavy manufacturing, automation can be customized to suit a variety of applications for many different industries.