We’re no strangers to robotics in manufacturing, as our robotic welders have been increasing efficiency in American Manufacturing projects for years. However, these robots have their limitations, particularly when it comes to safety and programming.

It takes time to program a robotic welder for a new custom project, and we must take several precautions and limit workforce interaction with the robot to keep our personnel safe. This makes it challenging for human welders to come alongside the robotic welders if needed for a project, slowing the process even further.

Of course, we knew that the revolutionary robotics integrations of Industry 4.0 would provide us with the perfect manufacturing solution, and the robotics industry did not disappoint. We are now excited to introduce the newest member of our robotics team: the cobot!

What is a Cobot?

A collaborative robot—or “cobot”—is an industrial robot specifically designed to work alongside humans, sharing a space and working simultaneously on a given project. This is possible because of the cobot’s built-in safety measures. If the cobot makes contact with anything that it isn’t supposed to be actively working with, it automatically stops. This means cobots do not require any of the usual safety guarding surrounding them that would take up a significant amount of extra floor space, making for a much more compact robotics tool.

At American Manufacturing, we have begun using the FANUC Welding Cobot, though we’ve only scratched the surface of what is possible. This cobot’s “high-mix, low-volume” production design makes it highly adaptable to rapid part changeover while maintaining very high-quality welds.

How We’re Using Cobots Now

FANUC Welding Cobots are highly intuitive and easy to use, significantly expediting the time it takes to program a new custom weld. With a simplified two-button system, we can program these cobots in about half the time that it would take us to program a traditional, industrial robot. Thanks to this easy set-up and programming, we’re able to meet and even exceed customer needs more than ever before!

Labor shortages are a continuing issue in the welding industry, reducing the number of projects manufacturers like us can take on. At American Manufacturing, we needed a solution to this lack of human welders that would aid us in supporting customer demands with reasonably quick production times. With such an efficient and easy programming time, cobots were the obvious choice for increasing our workforce without actively reducing the number of welders on the floor, as the two can work side-by-side. While our cobot and human welders aren’t doing collaborative projects quite yet, the cobots are easing the workload by taking on many of our everyday builds. We use cobots to weld everything from containers to racks to carts, keeping all of your warehousing essentials always in stock or ready to build so you can keep up with lead times of your own.

How We Plan to Use Cobots in the Future

While we have yet to dig too deep into the cobot’s collaborative potential, we have plans to move into that very soon. Cobots make the perfect second set of hands on any two-person welding project, working in tandem with our experienced human welders without sacrificing workplace safety. This gives us the opportunity to take on complex projects that require multiple welders while offering highly competitive lead times.

The future of welding has never looked better thanks to our new “cobotic” friends, and we cannot wait to see how they impact both our bottom line and yours! Contact us to learn more about how American Manufacturing—and our cobots—can support your custom welding needs!