Collaborative Robots vs Industrial Robots: key differences

When we talk about Industry 4.0, we can’t help but talk about collaborative robots and how this intelligent automated solution has been a turning point in the integration of new technologies in industry.

Industry 4.0 has been made possible thanks to the extensive experience already obtained in the field of industrial robotics and its presence on the production lines to automate tasks in a wide variety of sectors, all with the aim of improving productivity, efficiency, and quality.

We would quite possibly never be talking about collaborative robots without the original development of industrial robots and their evolution towards the design of intelligent automated solutions, based on interaction with humans.

Because of this, none of these types of robotics is better than the other,  they are complimented tools. Rather they are complementary, they are automated systems developed for different types of needs and objectives. It is, therefore, essential to understand what they are, what they contribute to industry, their key differences, and how they facilitate coexistence and work coordination.

Industrial robots

Industrial robots were created as an automated solution to take on intensive production tasks that require a constantly moving assembly line.

They are generally large and heavy, and placed in fixed positions within the industrial plant, configured with modules that do not have force sensors.

These robots are designed and configured to work automatically and intensively, their priority being the constant execution of their tasks. In addition, they need a fenced safety area to protect the human operators around them. 

Industrial robots are designed to perform a single task with high precision and speed. It doesn’t need to be moved, and so its positioning is a priority. The rest of the workers' tasks and processes are adapted to fit in with the robot’s capabilities and workload.

In the case of mobile robotics, we could tell that the first step in the industrial sector were the AGVs. These types of robots require physical elements to function (magnets, beacons ...), so they imply a modification of the layout, they are not capable of overcoming obstacles and the same robot doesn't have the same flexibility that a CMR does to work in different locations.

Collaborative robots

The collaborative robots are automated solutions designed to work interactively with humans. To facilitate this, they are specially designed to be quite compact and lightweight, thus ensuring they can be easily moved and take up little space in a plant’s working areas.

Collaborative robots are designed to work with people, and so safety is key. For that reason, they have built-in movement detection sensors which ensure that they can alter their operations or speed to facilitate safe shared-working environments.

They aren’t designed to carry out just one specific task, but, rather, to simplify the different processes that they may be involved in. This is why adaptability and flexibility are priorities in their design, as well as being easy to programme in order to carry out their different tasks optimally. 

The Collaborative Mobile Robots (CMR) have numerous advantages compared to traditional AGVS and help to reduce production costs for their rapid installation, flexibility, space saving, improved safety in the workspace and represent an aid for operators. As we have already mentioned before, they do not require physical elements and can work in different locations.

What are the differences between industrial robots and Collaborative Robots?

In general terms, the differences lie in the purpose they have been designed and developed for.

As far as industrial robots are concerned, they are designed to automate tasks and improve productivity, efficiency, and quality. They are created to perform a single task, but they can perform it so efficiently that they become essential for the optimal operation of an assembly line.  Is the case of industrial arms in sectors such us automotion or alimentation, for example.

So, as you can see, we’re talking here about robots with a high degree of specialization, and a complex configuration carried out by experts, involving the creation of a workspace that requires specific safety measures. In addition to this, there are electricity, operation, and maintenance costs.  

A cobot, on the other hand, is a collaborative robot, which means they are automated tools created to operate under the guidelines of an operator, with whom it works in a coordinated and safe manner, all in the same workspace. This makes it capable of executing a single task or intervening in different tasks, depending on the production needs and the parameters it has been configured with.

Because of this, a collaborative robot stands out for its versatility and ease of programming. This means that it can be easily integrated into the production line and can be operated and configured by an operator with basic knowledge.

This type of robot is able to free operators up from repetitive and precision-demanding tasks, thus helping to improve productivity and the quality of the result. This adaptability and interactive working influence their cost, as cobots stand out for their quick return on investment.

The CMR are perfect for autonomous transport loads and the mobile manipulators are designed for tasks such as pick&place, part feeding,  packaging, cleaning, polishing, screwing or drilling.

So, as we can see, both industrial robots and collaborative robots have their place on the production line, with the former conceived as a replacement for human workers, and the latter as a helper and ally to improve work efficiency.


Top robotics companies: Robotnik

Top robotics companies: why Robotnik is between them?

Today, robotics is part of our day to day, helping to optimize and automate tasks and making life easier for people. Like many others, this has been a natural process that we have reached due to numerous factors such as, for example, labour shortages in some sectors; the decrease in the world labour force (due to the low birth rate and aging); the search for automations that avoid human error and also the automation of those heavy, repetitive or simple jobs. If you want to know why Robotnik is between the top robotics companies, just keep reading!

The importance of human and robots 

What is collaborative robotics and what does it contribute?

In relation to this last aspect, we find collaborative robotics, which t is presented as one more working tool, as an aid for workers and operators. These are robots that can work safely in environments where there are people, without physical barriers. This has undoubtedly been the definitive step and made by the top robotics companies. Robots can be as just another co-worker. If we add to this the simplicity of its installation, its ease of use and that they can perform a wide number of tasks, it is understood that collaborative robots are present in any company that is in the so-called industry 4.0.

 

How the ​best robotics companies help create jobs

If we put into focus the idea that collaborative robots often perform repetitive, heavy and sometimes even dangerous tasks, we can go beyond the hackneyed concept that robots replace traditional labour and frame it in a new concept about processes improvement. That is, seeing collaborative robotics as one more aid to produce better, so that the company/industry is as efficient as possible.

Milton Guerry, President of the International Federation of Robotics, assures that: “Productivity increases and competitive advantages of automation don´t replace jobs – they will automate tasks, augment jobs and create new ones.”

Companies around the world are increasing their use of industrial robots: in five years, the global operating stock increased by approximately 65% ​​to 2.4 million units (2013-2018).

 

And which are the top robotics companies in the market? Robotnik is one of them

Robotnik is specialized in mobile robotics. Since 2002, the year of its foundation, it designs, manufactures, and markets robots and mobile manipulators.

Currently, our robots are present in numerous sectors: R&D, defense, inspection and maintenance, etc. The strongest in the industrial market is undoubtedly the logistics sector.

 

Best robotics companies uses robots in logistic sector 

Why choose Robotnik?

Nowadays, anyone with a general knowledge of the industry knows the use of mobile robots to transport goods in environments such as warehouses or even outdoor environments, such as those with large companies made up of several buildings that need to share merchandise with each other. The uses are very wide and in the end what it is about is to automate a process that is simple and repetitive, what a robot does best.

This, which is already so accepted in the market, was not so accepted in 2008, when Robotnik launched its first Collaborative Mobile Robots (CMR) on the market for autonomous transport in hospital environments. That experience is what has helped our company to be one of the best companies in the robotics sector. Since then, our logistics solution has been expanded adapting to the different environments of factories, warehouses or industries in general.

Our indoor logistics system is a comprehensive solution that includes robot fleet, location systems, user interface (HMI) and Fleet Management System (FMS). All this is a specific development from Robotnik.

 

What are the advantages of robotics and mobile handling in the logistics sector?

That collaborative mobile robotics has been making its way in sectors such as logistics makes a lot of sense. What would be the advantages it provides? We can cite the following:

  • Easy setup and installation.
  • Appropriate to share the workspace with people.
  • Automation of repetitive or unsafe processes.
  • Different localization solutions available.
  • Flexible routes vs fixed routes of traditional AGVs.
  • Advanced intelligent functions: person following, docking to machinery, voice communication, etc.
  • Advanced user interface (HMI) that allows to generate maps and define localization (waypoints) and routes in a simple and interactive way.
  • FMS (Fleet Management System) for the optimal coordination of a fleet of robots that share a workspace and a set of resources.

Top robotics companies share space between humans and robots

Success factors or how to try to be among the best robotics companies

Among the companies that have managed to consolidate over time, and especially the technology companies, several factors tend to coincide. Among those who define Robotnik like a top robotics company we could mention:

  • Market: when a company is in a booming sector, it is normal for it to progress. From 2020 to 2022 almost 2 million new units of industrial robots are expected to be installed in factories around the world. Europe is the region with the highest robot density, with an average value of 114 units per 10,000 employees in the manufacturing industry.
  • Innovation: any technology company must innovate if it wants to have a benchmark in the market. At Robotnik we have tried to launch products that add value to the market, and we have tried to improve the processes of our industrial customers. There is another way of doing things and mobile robotics has a lot to say about it.
  • Customization: one of the things that defines us the most is our ability to create, and to develop new prototypes that adapt to the needs of our clients. If there is a robot or a mobile manipulator at the base of a project, we can make it happen.
  • Vision: over 18 years there have been some setbacks, but also many successes such as the commitment to certain sectors and countries or specialization in certain types of products (such as, for example, right now in the field of mobile handling) .
  • Alliances: all our business partners have helped us. Our distributors, strategic allies for certain projects... are the ones who have helped us establishing ourselves in the international market or in certain sectors. The path is not usually successful if you travel alone.

 

The list of top robotics companies that are doing interesting things in the world is extensive. We hope Robotnik will continue to be one of them for a long time.

 

Top robotics companies: Robotnik

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Robotnik and the Spanish technologies in the fight against COVID-19

‘El Mundo’ newspaper has just published an article about the different technologies developed by Spanish companies in the fight against COVID-19. Among them are Robotnik's mobile robots that, among other things, help to maintain the much-needed safety distance between healthcare personnel and patients themselves. These are collaborative mobile robots that transport food or medicines or have implemented modules to telemedicine or disinfection. The possibilities are vast.

If you want more information, see the full article here.


The importance of collaborative robotics in the fight against COVID-19

Robotics has emerged as one of the technologies that is most contributing to the fight against COVID-19, providing numerous solutions to the needs that the pandemic has raised. In this way, also, it has contributed to revitalizing the economy, which has been severely reduced by the health situation we are experiencing worldwide. In fact, it has brought to light the importance of robotics and the prominent role they play at the moment, as it is already happening in the current industry 4.0 and other technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, blockchain or cybersecurity, among others. There are numerous applications in which collaborative robotics is already present, something that had to be reflected in these times of crisis.

Why is robotics key right now?

In the fight against the virus, one of the measures that has been shown to work to prevent contagion is to maintain a safe distance between people. And here collaborative robotics has a lot to say.

Specifically, mobile robots working in hospital can perform autonomous tasks such as:

  • Transportation of food.
  • Transportation  of medicine
  • Transportation of  laundry supplies.
  • Disinfection tasks.
  • Telemedicine.

In this way, the physical relationship between health personnel as well as patients and staff in general who transit through the hospital is avoided. All these tasks are the usual ones when we talk about collaborative mobile robotics (this last concept, collaborative means that robots, thanks to the integrated sensorization, can work safely in environments with humans).

Already in 2008, Robotnik noticed the importance of robotics and launched its AGVS robots in several hospitals, which were used precisely to autonomously transport different goods through the hospital. This made it possible to automate a repetitive and tedious activity while preventing it from being carried out by a person, who could dedicate his time to carrying out tasks of greater added value.

Current projects from Robotnik

The same idea of ​​maintaining the safety distance between people is at the base of the RADERPAC project (Rapid Deployment Robot for Pandemic Crises) that Robotnik is currently developing and is funded by the Generalitat Valenciana (Spain). In consists of the development of a modular robot designed to work in hospitals allowing the assembly of a module for disinfection and fumigation (something fundamental in the fight against COVID-19). This same mobile robot will serve as the basis for other health purposes such as telemedicine, telepresence or the transport of loads previously mentioned.

Robotnik has extensive experience in the development and supply of this type of robot, the use of which goes beyond the healthcare environment, also being used in areas of nuclear, radiological, chemical, and biological contamination. This technology can be applied almost immediately for many applications, using robots as the first separation barrier against the virus and thus helping to protect the workforce and the patients themselves, which showcases the importance of robotics in this sector.

Other projects Robotnik is currently working on is ENDORSE, which is part of the H2020 program of the European Union. This R&D project is based on developing logistics and diagnosis applications for hospitals. In it, different developments will be carried out in order to automate various tasks within a hospital, from the distribution of medicines and materials to the monitoring of the health status of patients. All of them aimed at reducing contact between people.

There are many applications that are being carried out and that highlight the importance of robotics at the present time. To those already mentioned, the following can be added:

  • Collaborative robotic arms (cobots) as a working tool for physical therapists. These would serve to interact with the patient without having to physically touch him.
  • Robots for the automatic performance of COVID-19 tests.
  • Robots for processing these tests quickly and efficiently. Something that, for example, the Flemish Institute of Biotechnology (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) is working on.
  • Robots to manufacture masks. In Spain, thanks to the help from some large companies, it has been possible to increase the number of masks that healthcare personnel especially needed.
  • Telepresence robots. Based on our Summit-XL Steel, we found a robot that uses the latest advances in artificial intelligence, digital signage, and video analysis and that performs tasks such as analysing the number of visitors, age, and gender of them.

In the field of telepresence there are striking proposals that highlight, once again, the importance of robotics. This is the case of quadruped robots that, in principle, were designed for rescue and transport tasks and have ended up serving as a medical tool to check the condition of patients without the need for a physical presence by the doctor, only using the tablet that incorporates the robot.

This same robot has been used in Singapore to, using loudspeakers, send messages to the population reminding them of the importance of staying at least 2 meters away.

The pandemic that we are currently experiencing and that affects everyone, has forced to redouble efforts in all areas. Robotics could not be left out of it. On May 4, the European Commission launched the Coronavirus Global Response initiative and mobilized a total of € 1.4 billion to fight the virus. On May 20, it mobilized another 122 million euros to support a series of R&D actions to combat COVID-19. This framework of actions highlights the importance of robotics, which will continue in force once we move forward and place ourselves in the future that COVID-19 leaves us.

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Collaborative robotics solutions to combat the health crisis of COVID-19

The current health crisis has led to the introduction of different prevention measures, among which is establishing the safety distance between people. This is the context of the article published by El Mercantil, which shows how robotics will have an even more important role after COVID-19. In addition to helping industrial processes, collaborative mobile robotics can perform specific tasks in the logistics or health field that will facilitate this social distancing. This is the case of robots that transport materials in health centres, for example, being an intermediation tool among health personnel.

If you want to know more, we leave the article here.


Robotnik puts its technology at the service of the COVID-19 health crisis

In the current world crisis caused by COVID-19, and foreseeably in other future ones with similar characteristics that we are facing, health and non-health personnel are exposed to direct contact with infected patients. The COVID-19 virus has an infection capacity more than 3 times greater than the 1918 Spanish flu. Despite security measures, only in Spain more than 13% of health personnel have been infected in this first wave of the pandemic.

In this context, the use of robotic systems reduces the contact of these personnel with patients or, also, non-health personnel, keeping them away from risk areas to carry out their services. Robots can help automate many of the tasks that are performed on a daily basis in a hospital: cleaning, disinfection, communication with the patient, transport of food, transport of patients, telemedicine (temperature measurements, blood pressure, oximetry, etc. ...) as well as many others, which significantly reduces the risk of all personnel.

Robotnik has extensive experience in the development and supply of logistics robots, as well as modular robots with the ability to mount different "loads" or modules that can be used in environments with nuclear, radiological, chemical and biological contamination. This technology can be applied almost immediately for many of the applications already specified, using robots as the first separation barrier against viruses and thus helping to protect workforce.

In the specific case of the telemedicine module, Robotnik is participating in the European project ENDORSE. This project aims to validate the integration of an electronic diagnostic module (equipped with non-invasive sensors) in a mobile robot base from Robotnik, so that it can serve as a direct interface to obtain the patient's status remotely.

The fight against COVID-19 is a global fight and helping to combat this pandemic must be a joint commitment of all the social agents, who have to make their contribution in the different areas to the best of their ability.


Robotnik and Itera collaborate in the development of the "Symphony"

Research and development of intelligent technology management system with multifunctional capabilities for operational improvement in the industry project. Supported by the Valencian Agency of Innovation, the objective of this project is the development of the technologies necessary to have robots and mobile manipulators easy to integrate and use. These technologies include advanced robot and operator location systems, cloud fleet management and planning systems, new quality control systems and parameter calibration. This project has been supported by the AVI (Valencian Agency of Innovation) and has the collaboration of the technological institutes Ai2 (Industrial Automation and Computing) and ITI (Technological Institute of Informatics).

 


Robotnik exhibits its robots for industry 4.0 in the UCLM event

Robotnik has just participated in the conference about collaborative robotics and industry 4.0 organized by the University of Castilla-La Mancha (UCLM). In it, Robotnik contributed with its experience in collaborative robotics, showing real cases for the industry. The conference held by María Benítez, Marketing Director of Robotnik, helped to present the advantages of collaborative mobile robotics: flexibility in implementation, controlled costs and the possibility of working safely in work environments where there are people.

Several media have attended the event. Among them, the Tribuna de Ciudad Real, which has published the article "The paper of collaborative robotics in the industry", which highlights the optimization of production processes, the lower cost and the highest quality and competitiveness that collaborative robotics brings.

Furthermore, Lanza Diario de La Mancha highlights in its report "The human and robot plants are already part of the present" what is a reality: the implementation of collaborative robots in industries, of different sizes, to carry out mechanical work and repetitive.

Below are the information issued and published:


Have you ever wondered what’s the best robotics company specializing in ROS?

If so, The Robot Report gives you the answer, or at least it brings you closer to it, in his article Top 10 ROS-based robotics companies in 2019, which introduces the 10 robotics companies that are right now considered international benchmarks in the sector. And, as it couldn’t be otherwise, Robotnik is on that list.

The Robot Report has developed its winning list following a series of own criteria among which are the following : you can buy the robot directly to manufacturers without going through intermediaries, the robot runs on ROS from minute one and the moment you acquire it you can program it at low level layering. The Robot Report concludes that Robotnik belongs to the top 10 ROS companies, because it meets all the above criteria and has become a collaborative world leader in mobile robotics.

Robotnik bet ROS dates back to the origins of software programming itself. Our R & D products meet the objectives of any developer : open source, customization options, modularity and ad hoc designs. This extends to all products of a large portfolio of both robots and mobile manipulators. In Robotnik not put limit to R & D and so we are in love with ROS.

The ROS philosophy led to Robotnik to create an online shop: ROS Components, which offers you the opportunity to purchase the components with support for ROS in the simplest way. While we contribute to the growth of the robotics community, providing some of the benefits of our online e-commerce to the Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF), the nonprofit organization responsible for the development of new versions and maintenance of the necessary infrastructure for servers, among other things.

At ROS Components you can find : from lasers to robotic hands and grippers, and also force sensors, robotic arms as well as mobile platforms and mobile manipulators. All of it supported by ROS, the reference software in robotics nowadays.


The new RB-VULCANO in HispaRob

This month's Hisparob newsletter includes, within its ‘Our partners’ section, the new range of robots that Robotnik has just launched: the RB-VULCANO series. This new product line is focused on the industrial market thanks to its most outstanding characteristics: its great load capacity, its autonomy and its great versatility to incorporate different tools depending on the tasks to be performed.

The new RB-VULCANO is designed, manufactured and marketed by Robotnik. This is the result of Robotnik´s experience for more than 17 years in the Mobile Robotics Sector.

A new line of products that expands and complements the product portfolio of the company by incorporating three new robots. They are characterized by their large load capacity, their autonomy, their industrial approach and their versatility to incorporate various tools based on their use.

  • The mobile platform RB-VULCANO BASE stands out for its high load capacity: 1.750 kg and an autonomy of up to 10 hours. Both features are extremely useful for industrial environments, especially for logistics applications.
  • Besides that, the robot RB-VULCANO consists of the mobile platform RB-Vulcano Base, lift column and a UR5 arm (payload of 5 kg) or arm UR10 (payload 10 kg). By default, it has integrated collaborative gripper 40 CO-ACT (Schunk) but this can be replaced by any other type of tool (as a screwdriver, for example).
  • Finally, the mobile platform RB-VULCANO PRO stands out for its ability to integrate various components for performing numerous tasks in industrial, agricultural and logistics environments. Among these components are tools, structures, supports, robotic arms, forklifts, roller-conveyors, tanks and air/hydraulic units, among others.

Currently, RB-VULCANO is already operating in different real industrial environments, from the agriculture sector to aircraft manufacturing, through logistics centers. RB-VULCANO is capable of carrying out any activity that is repetitive, heavy or dangerous, optimizing production within any company. Among the competitive advantages of these new robots and mobile manipulators is their flexibility. That is, they are modular and versatile units, which can incorporate different sensors, tools and components. In addition, these are collaborative robotic platforms, that is, they can safely work with people in different work environments.

Robotnik is a partner of the Spanish Robotics Technology Platform, HispaRob, a forum that welcomes different agents involved in the development, promotion and integration of robotic technologies in all areas of our society.

You can download the HispaRob newsletter here.