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The robotics industry is constantly changing and evolving. New robotics technologies and developments in automation are quickly creating exciting career opportunities at every education level – from micro-credentials to PhDs. Here is where you can learn more about robotics careers in manufacturing and how these new technologies are benefiting workers


What are the Different Types of Robots in Manufacturing?

May 26, 2021

Robots are becoming more of a common presence on the manufacturing floor, and they’re boosting productivity and revamping processes across the board. 

While these amazing machines come in a variety of shapes and sizes, they’re generally divided into two different categories within the manufacturing industry. Industrial robots are larger and stationary, and collaborative robots are mobile and smaller. 

Below, we’ll talk about how each of the different types of robots contribute through their various applications. 

Industrial Robots

Industrial robots are usually larger, stationary equipment that are designed for high-speed production with high accuracy and at large volumes. They typically have large work envelopes and operate within a cage to keep any nearby workers safe from their high-speed operations. 

Because of their size, the long set-up time and lengthy programming, as well as the safety measures that have to be built around them, industrial robots are best suited for production processes that will continue with little change for long periods of time. 

The best use-cases for this type of manufacturing robots are when a manufacturer needs to maintain a high output volume of something for a long period of time. They’re generally much more expensive than their smaller counterparts, but these industrial mammoths will make up for the investment with their constant and consistent output, as this type of manufacturing robot is focused on a consistently high output with little supervision.  

Collaborative Robots

Typically called “cobots,” collaborative robots are generally more mobile and designed to be worked with rather than worked around on the manufacturing floor. This type of manufacturing robot is smaller and can be adapted to various tasks as needed, often working as part of a mixed production chain that also involves people. For instance, maybe the cobot is producing an item and then handing it off to a person for the next step in the production chain. 

Not only are they small, but cobots are generally more user-friendly. Whereas industrial robots take a lot of skill and time to program for a single repeated operation, cobots can be easily programmed for different tasks on the fly. 

Another big difference is that cobots are safe to be around, after risk assessment of course. Industrial robots live inside of cages to keep everybody safe, but cobots are designed to be right there with their human counterparts in the workspace. Combined with their task flexibility and relatively low cost of entry, cobots are a great place to start for small or mid-sized manufacturers looking to get in on the robotics revolution. 

Key Takeaways Between the Different Types of Robots

While industrial robots represent a significant investment, they are unmatched in delivering consistent output for large-scale manufacturing needs. Their design is tailored for long-term efficiency in high-volume production environments, where the initial investment is offset by their relentless pace and precision over time. For large scale manufacturers of consumer goods, this is likely to play a part in the overall implementation of automation.

On the flip side, collaborative robots (cobots) present an attractive option for small to mid-sized manufacturers. Their main appeal lies in their versatility and affordability. 

Unlike the larger industrial robots, cobots can be quickly reprogrammed for different tasks, making them ideal for businesses that require flexibility in production, like machine and weld shops. Their lower cost not only makes them financially accessible but also allows for a quicker return on investment, especially in environments where production needs are more varied and less predictable. 

Together, these contrasting types of manufacturing robots – the robust, high-output industrial robots and the agile, cost-effective cobots – provide a wealth of options for manufacturers that are looking to automate their operations. 

Now We Just Need the People

With both collaborative and industrial robots finding their places in modern manufacturing, one problem remains: We need to find and train a workforce that will be capable of operating and working alongside those different types of robots. 

The ARM Institute has made it our mission to connect potential workers with the training they need to find careers in the world of robotics and automation, and that’s why we created The site features an easily searchable database of training and education programs around the country, making it as convenient as ever for manufacturers to upskill their employees to work with their robotic counterparts. 

To find out more about what we’re doing at The ARM Institute, sign up for our newsletter or reach out and contact us directly.

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