Six ways Cobots are transforming UK manufacturing sector productivity

Written by Mark Lazarides

May 29, 2023

May 29, 2023

Collaborative robots, or “cobots,” are revolutionising the manufacturing industry in the UK and worldwide. The latest generation of cobots brings the benefits of increased automation to even the smallest manufacturing business. Cobots are working with humans to enhance productivity, improve health and safety, increase flexibility, reduce downtime, and boost job satisfaction. This blog post explores the many benefits of integrating cobots into production lines and their impact on businesses and employees alike.

What is a cobot?

Cobots, short for collaborative robots, are a type of industrial robot designed to work alongside humans in a shared workspace. Cobots are designed to be safe to work alongside people on the factory floor without the need for safety barriers.

These robots are typically smaller and lighter than traditional industrial robots. This makes them flexible and easier to integrate into existing workflows. They are designed to be easy to program. Some models like, Dobot’s MG400, feature intuitive interfaces that allow non-experts to set up and teach the robot new tasks quickly. They are so simple that many schools now use them to teach robotics.

Today’s cobots are versatile. They are used in many applications, including assembly, pick-and-place, packaging, material handling, palletizing, welding and quality control. You can easily equip them with various sensors and vision systems that enable them to perceive their environment and work collaboratively with human workers. Furthermore, there are dozens of different attachments, from grippers to welders and beyond. This makes integrating them viable for various industries, including automotive, pharmaceuticals, electronics, and food and beverage preparation.

Collaborative robotics has the potential to revolutionise manufacturing work. Here are six ways they can benefit your manufacturing business.

How using cobots can improve productivity

Cobots are designed to work closely with human co-workers, complementing their skills and capabilities in various tasks. Here are some ways cobots enable increased productivity:

Enhanced precision and accuracy

Cobots can use advanced sensors and technology that enable them to perform tasks with greater precision and accuracy than human workers. This reduces errors and waste, resulting in higher-quality products and faster production times.

Consistent performance

Cobots don’t get tired or sick. So, they can maintain consistent performance over long periods without lapses in concentration. This leads to a more reliable and efficient production process.

Automation of repetitive tasks

By automating monotonous tasks, cobots free up human workers to focus on more complex and creative tasks. This drives innovation and efficiency.

Easy integration

Cobots are designed to be user-friendly. They are simple to programme and integrate into existing manufacturing lines with minimal disruption. This in turn makes it easier for businesses to adopt and benefit from their use.

Example use case 1: Automotive industry

Many vehicle manufacturers are using cobots to perform repetitive tasks, such as welding, glueing painting, and assembly. For instance, you can programme a cobot to weld car parts together with precise accuracy, reducing errors. This helps improve product quality. they can even be used for quality inspection. They can also reduce health and safety risks to human employees by handling dangerous materials, such as paint or chemicals.

How can collaborative robotics improve Health and Safety?

Using collaborative robots in your manufacturing processes can significantly enhance workplace health and safety in the following ways:


  • Reducing workplace injuries: Cobots are ideal for handling dangerous or physically demanding tasks. This can reduce the risk of injury for human employees. It protects your people and lowers the potential for costly compensation claims and downtime due to injuries.
  • Improved ergonomics: Robots can be designed to perform tasks with optimal ergonomics. This can minimise the strain on human workers and reduce the risk of long-term musculoskeletal disorders.
  • Enhanced safety features: Cobots are equipped with sensors that allow them to detect and respond to nearby humans. This creates a safer working environment. Advanced safety features such as force limitation and stop functions further reduce the risk of accidents.

Example use case 2: Food and beverage industry

In the food and beverage industry, they often assist with packaging and labelling. For example, a cobot can be programmed to sort and package food items. This reduces the need for human intervention and improves the efficiency of the assembly line. Cobots help maintain hygiene standards by handling food products in a sanitary manner. They can even be used in food preparation. Check out the video to see cobot latte art in action.

How can collaborative robots help your business gain a competitive advantage?

Collaborative robots bring hard-to-beat flexibility to manufacturing processes. This makes it easier to adapt to changing market demands and production requirements:

  • Easy reprogramming: Reprogramming Cobots is quick and easy. So it’s trouble to set up new tasks or adapt to changes in production requirements. This agility allows businesses to remain competitive and respond to market fluctuations more efficiently.
  • Scalability: You can scale Cobots up or down according to production needs. That means you can optimise your workforce and maintain the right production levels when demand is variable.
  • Versatility: Cobots can master a wide range of tasks, from assembly and packaging to quality control and inspection. This versatility makes it easier for businesses to diversify their product offerings and expand into new markets.

Example use case 3: Pharmaceutical industry

In the pharmaceutical industry, cobots can assist with the packaging and labelling of medications. They can sort and package pills into individual containers, reducing the risk of errors and improving the efficiency of the packaging process. Cobots also help maintain a sterile environment by handling medications in a controlled manner.

How cost-effective are collaborative robots in manufacturing?

The cost-saving benefits of collaborative robots make them an attractive investment for organisations of all sizes:

  • Reduced labour costs: Automate repetitive tasks to save on labour costs without sacrificing production capacity.
  • Lower training and setup costs: Cobots are user-friendly and easy to program. This cuts down the time and expense required for training and setup.
  • Enhanced efficiency: The precision, consistency, and speed of cobots lead to less waste and faster production times, ultimately lowering overall production costs.
  • Extended operating hours: Cobots can work around the clock. This allows businesses to increase production without incurring additional labour costs for overtime or multiple shifts.

Example use case 4: Electronics industry

Electronics manufacturers use cobots to help with circuit board assembly, testing, and inspection. Cobots precisely pick and place electronic components onto circuit boards. This reduces the chance of errors and improves the quality of the final product. They can also be used to inspect the final product for defects, ensuring that only high-quality products are shipped to customers.

Integrate cobots in your production line to reduce downtime

Downtime can be costly for businesses. It leads to lost productivity, wasted resources, and decreased revenue. Robots can help to reduce downtime in manufacturing businesses.

  • Continuous operation: Cobots will work around the clock without needing breaks or rest periods. This means that production can continue uninterrupted, reducing downtime and increasing overall efficiency.
  • Rapid changeovers: They are quick and easy to reprogramme and reconfigure for different tasks. This enables seamless transitions between production runs. It also minimises the time spent on changeovers and keeps assembly lines running smoothly.
  • Preventive maintenance: Equipped with advanced sensors and diagnostics capabilities, cobots are also capable of monitoring their performance. They can identify potential issues before they escalate into more significant problems. This proactive maintenance approach can help prevent unplanned downtime and keep production lines running at peak efficiency.
  • Enhanced resilience: These robots are designed to withstand the rigours of industrial environments and continue operating reliably even in challenging conditions. Their durability and resilience mean fewer breakdowns and disruptions, reducing downtime.

Reduce monotonous work and boost employee job satisfaction

Clearly, implementing a cobot can help manufacturers to drive capacity, but they are also having a positive impact on employee job satisfaction. Here’s how:

  • Reducing tedious tasks: By automating mundane tasks, people can focus on more interesting and complex aspects of their jobs. This can increase job satisfaction as employees can use their skills and talents more effectively.
  • Reducing workplace injuries: They can take over tasks that pose a risk to people, such as heavy lifting or operating in hazardous environments. By minimising the risk of injury, they contribute to a safer and more enjoyable working environment, leading to higher job satisfaction.
  • Encouraging skill development: As cobots take over routine tasks, employees have the opportunity to develop new skills and expertise in areas such as software, maintenance, and quality control. This professional growth can lead to greater accomplishment and job satisfaction.
  • Fostering collaboration: Cobots work alongside human employees. This promotes a collaborative working environment that encourages teamwork and communication. This cooperative atmosphere can lead to more positive workplace relationships and increased job satisfaction.

Cobots are transforming the UK manufacturing landscape and playing a vital role in improving employees’ work experience. By reducing downtime and enhancing job satisfaction, cobots are paving the way for a more efficient, productive, and enjoyable future for manufacturing businesses and their workforce.

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