Mobile robots could offer businesses agility

Small, compact robots could allow manufacturers to be more agile, flexible and versatile. Being able to utilise this technology could offer up new opportunities and scope for businesses.

Benefits of mobile robotics are numerous. Compact robotics can reduce safety issues, improve business’ flexibility and agility, and are a rapidly improving technology.

Compact robotics can reduce safety issues, improve business' flexibility and agility, and are a rapidly improving technology.
Compact robotics can reduce safety issues, improve business’ flexibility and agility, and are a rapidly improving technology – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

As these machines become increasingly effective, they’re also becoming more affordable and flexible with the ability to be adopted and scaled in many different warehouse environments.

Machines can complete repetitive exercises, and take alternative travel routes during production to move products between workers and stations, ultimately enhancing operations.

Autonomous mobile robots could also offer new opportunities for inventory monitoring. Mobile machines are now able to conduct their own inventory sweeps autonomously at schedules determined by businesses.

Combining problem-solving abilities and adaptability with a robot’s tireless endurance for repetitive tasks can help to make factories more flexible.

This is, of course, especially important for manufacturing, where goods are increasingly made with greater diversity and in smaller production sizes.

Case study: FANUC slimline robot

FANUC has unveiled a slimline extension to its new generation of compact, general purpose robots, which is suited to smaller, narrow work spaces and top-mount applications.

FANUC has unveiled a slimline extension to its new generation of compact, general purpose robots - image courtesy of FANUC.
FANUC has unveiled a slimline extension to its new generation of compact, general purpose robots – image courtesy of FANUC.

The M10iD/10L is the latest model from FANUC’s M-10 robot series. It comes complete with a long arm to provide an extended reach of up to 1636mm.

With a footprint of just 343m x 343mm, the robot is suited to compact production line installations, and is articulated to reach narrow spaces.

The compact piece of automation features a hollow arm, wrist and body, which facilitate the routing of internal cables. The company believe that this not only makes the robot straightforward to integrate and modify, but – coupled with a slim curved arm – it also reduces any interference with peripheral devices.

Mobile robotics integrated into retail

ABB’s collaborative robot, YuMi has been put to the test as it is currently stationed in London retailer Selfridges.

The dual-arm cobot, whose name is short for ‘You and Me,’ will serve customers freshly made coffee as it takes on a barista role.

Making and serving coffee is just one of the many tasks that YuMi can handle according to ABB, as the cobot was originally designed for small parts assembly applications.

Compact robotics can reduce safety issues, business flexibility and agility, and are a rapidly improving technology.
The cobot’s technical ability includes a mix of functional and safety features, from motion control software to an ergonomic, lightweight design.

These include high accuracy tasks such as putting together smart phones, packaging wrist watches, or handling fine electronics that go into EVs.

The cobot’s technical ability includes a mix of functional and safety features, from motion control software to an ergonomic, lightweight design.

YuMi can also be equipped with vision systems, dexterous grippers and sensitive force control feedback which enable it to effectively see and feel the objects it is handling.