Study rounds up initial experiences from companies using the technology
What is the current state of cage-free robot technology in German industry? This was the question Fraunhofer IAO investigated in the study “Lightweight robots in manual assembly.” Based on case studies in factories already using lightweight robots for manufacturing, the study looked at their experiences with implementing the robots, gaining acceptance from human coworkers, and improving operational efficiency.
In recent years, human-robot cooperation – also known as human-robot collaboration, or HRC – has taken center stage at trade fairs. The term applies to any situation where robots work directly alongside humans without safety barriers on the manufacturing floor.
In such cases, the work zones of robots and workers overlap instead of being strictly separated. The low entry prices and big media interest in the technology created a wave of hype. But is the cost really all that low, and are the new robots really safe? Or is it a case of companies having unrealistic expectations?
Meet your new robotic workmate: initial hurdles and sample applications
In the course of the study “Lightweight robots in manual assembly – best to start simply,” Fraunhofer IAO researched cage-free robot use in Germany in industrial companies and in publications. From some 50 applications, 25 were ultimately selected for further investigation – of these, 18 were taken from personal interviews and 7 from publications. The decisive criterion for selection was that the application was already operating on a production line or that the robots were already being used by several companies.
First and foremost, the study reveals that the new technology works! This was confirmed by all the one-to-one interviews conducted. Even if the technology itself is not being called into question, however, there are still some uncertainties – for example, as regards new occupational safety standards and guidelines.
In addition, the cost of cage-free operation is significantly higher than initially expected. The study also showed that humans and robots are still primarily working alongside each other in a form of coexistence, with genuine collaborative applications virtually non-existent in production facilities at the present time. To ensure that the purchase costs of a lightweight robot pay off, it is also important to keep the new robotic worker busy.
Who dares wins: take the plunge!
How can companies benefit in the future from current knowledge and experience? After the project, the interviewees all agreed that the bottom line is: “Don’t let obstacles put you off – best to start simply!” Fraunhofer IAO’s Manfred Bender, who headed the study, explains: “What’s particularly important here is to choose an application that will work. In other words, the application must not be too complex and must have simple requirements in regard to materials provisioning. For safe assembly processes, pointed or sharp parts should also be excluded.”
The study is available both as a printed document and as a PDF for download at http://s.fhg.de/Studie-LBR. The follow-up project “Rococo: designing human-robot assembly-line collaborations that are cooperative and integrated” starts on October 1, 2016. It is being funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and coordinated by the Project Management Agency Karlsruhe (PTKA).
Phone: +49 711 970-2056
Juliane Segedi | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO
Fraunhofer IWS Dresden collaborates with a strong research partner in Singapore
15.02.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Werkstoff- und Strahltechnik IWS
Russian researchers developed high-pressure natural gas operating turbine-generator
06.02.2017 | Peter the Great Saint-Petersburg Polytechnic University
In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport
Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...
The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.
The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...
Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...
Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".
Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...
13.02.2017 | Event News
10.02.2017 | Event News
09.02.2017 | Event News
20.02.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine
20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine