Universal Robots' cobot in action
Universal Robots' cobot in action
 

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ARE COBOTS THE NEW CO-WORKERS?


What if robots could take on all the heavy duty and dangerous tasks in a manufacturing facility—making work safer and more efficient? Imagine a smart robot keeping a production line up and running even if the employees had to work remotely. Or, consider collaborative robots (cobots) emerging from factory floors into new parts of our world, such as healthcare, helping nurses disinfect spaces and surfaces, or assist with administering certain tests to minimize health risks to workers.

With industries such as healthcare systems facing new challenges and demands—on top of labor and supply chain issues—increased automation in all areas of society is increasing productivity and improving quality of life.

Dramatic changes are on the horizon, and fast approaching, and Analog Devices (ADI) is uniquely positioned to help robotic technology meet these challenges head on.

BETTER LIVING THROUGH COBOTS

Universal Robots (UR), a division of Teradyne, is the market leader in cobot manufacturing. It is a progressive organization with a mission to utilize the power of robot technology to change how people work and live around the globe—from helping a non-profit improve people’s vision in developing countries to reducing workforce injuries formerly caused by repetitive tasks.

UR is helping enable humans to live and work alongside smaller, more flexible and more controlled robots to better augment and enhance human capabilities. As more industries adopt cobots for factory floors and beyond, businesses are realizing greater efficiencies and securing more work thanks to their improved productivity.

Cobot help worker with repetitive tasks
Cobots help workers with repetitive tasks so they can do more creative work

Universal Robots understands that expecting people to work like machines limits both workers and workplaces. Human workers can’t add much value when they’re busy repeating menial tasks all day, and workplaces that can’t overcome the bottlenecks in their manual processes can’t grow and capture more business. UR envisions the factory of the future re-designing work to better tap into human ingenuity, and leveraging new technologies to create better work, and more of it, around the world.

>15%
OF ALL ROBOTS SOLD IN 2028 WILL BE COBOTS1
50/50
BY 2025, THE TIME SPENT ON TASKS AT WORK BY HUMANS AND MACHINES WILL BE EQUAL2
“UR’s vision is to create a world where people work with robots, not like robots. We want collaborative robotics to be accessible for companies of all sizes to help them improve productivity and safety. ADI helped us look at many challenges and showed us emerging technologies that would help us get to the next level. Our relationship has grown deeper and more collaborative…it goes way beyond supplying chips.”

Lars Bach

Hardware Director, R&D, at Universal Robots A/S

A RELATIONSHIP FORGED IN A COMMON MISSION

Analog Devices is helping contribute to UR’s mission with deep expertise across various domains, and a portfolio of advanced system-level solutions for robotics technologies, including sensing, precision measurement, safety, communications, machine reliability, and power and size efficiencies.

ADI has built and grown a close relationship with UR since its founding (and with its parent company Teradyne). With similar missions of leveraging technology for the common good, ADI and UR are uniquely positioned to create life-altering technological advances that help transform workforces with their adoption of robots and cobots.

Leveraging ADI’s advancements in industry-leading technologies such as sensing, measurement and power, helped UR to optimize the shaft performance of each cobot’s joints, enabling better control and system functionality and increasing precision system control of the cobot. ADI’s system solutions helped to achieve the required cobot size, which was critical to pioneering safe robot operation alongside skilled human operators.

This high-level collaboration is resulting in UR being able to design smaller, smarter, and easier to use robots that help scale tasks more safely—especially tasks that are repetitive, physically intensive, or dangerous.

Engineers at Universal Robots working during COVID-19
Engineers at Universal Robots working during COVID-19

HOW COBOTS ENHANCE PRODUCTIVITY AND INCREASE SAFETY

In the face of viral illnesses and contagious diseases such as COVID-19, UR cobots provide two key benefits to manufacturers. First, UR enhances a manufacturer’s resilience to maintain production continuity in a crisis; and second, UR’s cobot solutions help ensure workplace safety.

Beyond this, when manufacturers face unforeseen labor challenges, UR offers easy to use, quick to deploy systems. You really don’t need to be an expert in order to program a cobot to do what you need—a major plus to scale in non-complicated environments like grocery stores, factory lines, etc. Once up and running, these cobots can complete specialized tasks to support their human counterparts, allowing work to continue on schedule without close contact between humans.

In healthcare, instead of spending valuable time on difficult or menial tasks such as cleaning, healthcare providers can focus more on discussing medical treatments, and personal interactions thus improving patient care. While some tasks in healthcare settings may eventually be done entirely and autonomously by robots—for situations that don’t require the skills and cognition of an expert medical provider—there will always be a requirement for human connections.

Cobot picking parts from boxes

LEVERAGING COBOTS TO HELP TRANSFORM THE FUTURE

ADI and UR have seen the future of manufacturing, healthcare and other industries — and its robots and cobots. This initiative is not to be looked at as the enemy of the worker, but rather as a partnership and facilitator in more beneficial terms to the growth and improvement of these industries. In fact, according to the McKinsey Global Institute, more than 90% of jobs will not be fully automatable in the future, meaning robots and humans will work together.3 Beyond this, it’s important to remember that automation doesn’t remove humans, but automates certain repetitive and potentially strenuous/dangerous tasks, while creating new, more cognitive, more creative opportunities for workers. Cobots in particular will continue to enhance productivity and finetune production flow in a safe environment—whether it’s on factory floors lifting heavy boxes or in hospitals aiding healthcare workers.

Together, Analog Devices and Universal Robots are helping lead this automation transformation in our changing world, and will play key roles in driving enhanced productivity, added flexibility, and greater safety for workers throughout the world.


1Interact Cobot Industry Forecast, December 2020

2World Economic Forum Future of Jobs Report 2020

3A Future That Works: Automation, Employment, and Productivity, McKinsey Global Institute