Integration… It’s hard, right? You need an integrator, years of robotics experience, lots of time… Nope! These common “facts” are all fiction.
There are a lot of misconceptions about robotics.
Some of these myths are so maddeningly common and misguided that we’ve covered them many times before (e.g. robots steal jobs, robots will kill us all, etc). I won’t bore you by covering these again. They are the type of myth that the general public believes, but those of us with engineering experience know that they are not true.
However, there are some misguided “facts” which even many engineers and business owners believe. They regard robot integration.
A lot of people wrongly believe that robotics is not for them because they are misled by these integration myths.
Here are 15 of the most pervasive “facts” which stop intelligent people like you from experiencing the great benefits of robotics.
“If you can work a smartphone, you can work a robot.” – Sabrina Thompson, production employee, Scott Fetzer Group
1. Integration requires an integrator
It makes sense, right? You need to hire an external robot integrator to integrate your robot.
In the past, yes, it was true. In the past, robot integration was a complex and highly-skilled job requiring years of programming experience. In some specific cases, you do still need an integrator these days. However, for many applications, you can get started with robotics with no external integrator at all. This is particularly true with collaborative robots.
2. Integration requires robotics experience
Nope! We’ve seen countless professionals who had no previous robotics experience manage to integrate robots with no problems.
Take the example of engineer Victor Canton from our case study of Continental in Spain. Even with no experience in robotics, he was able to integrate a robot for their Quality Testing task.
3. Robots are only suitable for mass production
This pervasive myth originates from an out-of-date idea of robotics. From the 1960s (when the first industrial robot was built) through to the 1990s, robots were solely the tools of mass production. They were only used by industries like automotive, where the high volume, low mix environment suited the inflexible industrial robots of the time.
These days, however, robots are just as applicable to low volume, high mix environments as they are for mass production.
4. Robots need vision sensors
People often think that robots need to have vision sensors because we humans need our eyes to see what we’re doing. However, this is not necessarily true.
Robot vision can make integration harder than it needs to be (even with easy-to-use vision sensors). Many tasks do not require vision. As a result, such tasks are very simple to integrate.
5. Integration takes a long time
Despite what many people think, there is no need for robot integration to take a long time. This misconception stems from the fact that traditional industrial robotics integration was a very complex and time-consuming affair.
At Robotiq, we are committed to helping people get robots up-and-running quickly. We have seen people integrate the bare-bones of a robot application within just a few hours.
6. Integration is expensive
The cost of integration has been falling over the last decade or so. Integration is now much more cost effective, even for industrial robots which are more expensive to integrate than collaborative robots.
With industrial robots, integration costs increase the overall cost of the robot by 300%. With collaborative robots, integration costs can be negligible.
7. Integration is complex
Robots sound complicated, right? However, it is no longer the case that integration has to be complex.
Even if you have never used a robot before, integration can be very simple. Sabrina Thompson from our case study of the Scott Fetzer group said: “If you can work a smartphone, you can work a robot.” Robot programming is much easier than it used to be.
8. Robotics means changing production layout
“We can’t integrate a robot because we don’t want to change our process.”
This is a common concern. People think that robots will cause a major upheaval and require the production layout to be changed.
In reality, you can slot a robot into a small space in an existing work cell without changing the rest of the process at all.
9. Robots need a lot of technology
Sensors, security fences, controller add-ons, advanced fixings, part positioners… when many people think of a robot cell, they imagine it with lots of added technology. This may be because we are used to seeing images and videos of industrial robots kitted out with all the technological extras.
You can actually get a robot running with nothing more than the robot itself, a gripper and a controller. Simple.
10. Robots are only for new tasks
People sometimes think that robots are only applicable to new tasks in their business. They can’t imagine how a robot could be used for their current, manual tasks. They wrongly assume that they will only be able to automate once they scale their business and design new processes.
In actual fact, manual tasks are often the best tasks to automate. Once you have identified a suitable application, it is much quicker and easier to automate an existing task than to create a new application from scratch.
11. Robots are too dangerous to integrate
Safety is at the top of some people’s list as a reason that they can’t integrate a robot themselves. They worry that they might make a mistake and create a robot which is dangerous.
With traditional industrial robots, safety was always a huge concern. However, with collaborative robots, safety features are built in. This means that safe integration is almost guaranteed.
12. Safety standards are too complex
Although collaborative robots are inherently safe, they still need a risk assessment. Some people are put off by this, thinking that they will have to learn about robotic safety standards in order to integrate their own robots.
Cobot safety standards are actually simple to get your head around. You can download our eBook How to Perform a Risk Assessment for Collaborative Robots for a practical guide to the essential safety standards.
13. High-changeovers are a no-go
A lot of the companies we hear from think that they can’t integrate a robot into their process because they have too many changeovers. They think that robots are only useful for long runs of product. However, environments with a high number of changeovers can benefit a lot from adding a robot. The trick is to pick the right robot gripper and tooling.
14. Robots have limited uses
Sometimes, people can only think of one or two potential applications for robots and assume that robots have limited applications. For example, they might only be able to think of welding or painting because these are classic examples of traditional industrial robotic tasks.
In reality, there are so many potential uses of robots that there are too many for us to count. We are regularly amazed by the many new and inventive applications that people come up with when they first start using collaborative robots.
15. Getting started with robots is hard
Probably the most pervasive misconception is that it’s hard to start using robots.
Nothing could be further from the truth! These days, it is easier than ever to start using a robot with almost no training at all. You can integrate your own robots quickly with no previous experience.
At Robotiq, we’re committed to doing all that we can to help you get started with robotics.
Got a task you’re thinking about automating? Enter the detail into our Blueprints form and we’ll help you out.