As the foray into robotic automation continues, more and more businesses are incorporating robots into various production processes. The shift into the wide-scale adoption of robotics is so significant that according to Adobe’s 2018 digital intelligence briefing, 31% of businesses plan to add AI and robotic support over the next 12 months.

There are three key factors that most companies or businesses consider once they decide to automate.

  1. i) The cost of the collaborative robot arm and how purchasing the robot will affect the bottom line.
  2. ii) The business processes to be automated and in-depth analysis on whether automating those processes will provide the expected ROI.

iii) The space requirements, personnel training and ease of integration.

Unfortunately, there is another essential factor that escapes the mind of most enterprises—purchasing a collaborative robot arm whose capability will grow alongside your business.

It is the nature of businesses that they grow. A company can expand, it can scale down, or it can change its focus and incorporate other money making ventures. If when purchasing the collaborative robot, you did not consider this, then it means you will have to incur the extra cost of purchasing more robots that are more in line with the new direction your company has taken.

Other than this being ridiculously expensive, it will also affect your profit margin. Imagine for a second that you purchase ten palletizing robots in 2018. They prove to be crucial and play a big part in increasing productivity. However, because the nature of consumer goods is ever changing, what you palletize today will not be necessarily palletized the same way tomorrow. If you did not account for the fact that a critical requirement might change, then you have to purchase new collaborative robots to cater to the new demand. However, if you accounted for such eventualities during purchase, then by merely changing out tooling or ancillary equipment, you can reuse the same robot.

So, how do you do this? How do you ensure the collaborative robot arm you purchase will accommodate your changing business?

 

1. Purchase A Robot Arm That Can Be Repurposed for Entirely Different Tasks

You ought to ensure the robot arm can be easily repurposed. By simply changing the gripper, for instance, you can repurpose the arm to perform an entirely different task. Note that this is not reprogramming the arm to accomplish the same repetitive task but in a different environment.

No. It means that if the collaborative robot previously performed pick and place tasks, by changing the gripper, you can repurpose the arm towards packaging or even welding in the future.

 

2. Purchase a Robot That Can Work in Varying Environments

Any responsible and reputable collaborative robot manufacturer will always perform a risk analysis before providing robots to any given company. Part of that analysis involves evaluating the space available and evaluating how the robot will be mounted to ensure safety for the human workers.

As a business grows, a lot of factors are affected, and sometimes the available space might reduce. If you purchased a robot that could only be mounted on the floor, then this proves to be a disadvantage. However, if you bought a robot that could be mounted on the floor, wall or roof, then if space becomes an issue you can ask your robot provider to come and install the robot on the wall instead without incurring the extra cost of purchasing another robot.

The goal, therefore, is to work with your robot provider to determine how flexible your robot is and can be in the future.

 

3. Purchase A Versatile Collaborative Robot

Collaborative types differ depending on factors such as axis or payload. A 3-axis robot is different from a 5-axis robot, and there are tasks a 3-axis robot cannot complete while a 5-axis robot will easily complete.

The goal, therefore, is to analyze all the processes that can benefit from automation. After that, irrespective of the particular procedure you wish to automate at the moment, choose a robot arm that can cover as many processes as possible.