September 2021

Focus on: Robotics & Automation Process, Controls & Plant September 2021 Plant & Works Engineering | 33 human working more productive than purely human or robot teams. In the UK, cobots are completing all manner of tasks from stacking crates, painting, and welding to sticking on car door liners and basic QA inspections. The cobots’ lower cost and easy programming enables more businesses to implement them into their production processes. With their refined torque-sensing capabilities and lightweight but still solid construction, they are safer to use and easy to deploy. The ability to adapt their software to suit means they can quickly be redeployed to add flexibility to your operations. Going forward, what will this look like? According to a report by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), international sales for robots reached almost £10 billion last year, and has been increasing since 2017. The IFR predicts “a strong sales increase” in the coming years, particularly of robotic systems used for logistics, which is expected to more than double by 2022. Future automation across all areas of manufacturing is inevitable, however with increasing development of cobots, there is no danger in them taking over completely as they need human intervention for connectivity and programming, for example, to carry out their purpose. Obviously, in the future there’s no doubt that many tasks that we do today will be taken over by cobots, but for an industry that suffers from skills shortages like manufacturing and the ongoing rise in UK wages, this may be a positive move. Using cobots provides many companies with an opportunity to upskill their employees, alleviating the dependency these skill shortages have caused. This collaborative future has the potential for new, historically unimaginable, benefits. Rather than merely streamlining how businesses currently manufacture, it allows cobots to serve as a workhorse across organisations, transforming how businesses work and how they go about it. *Gary Livingstone is managing director at LG Motion