Technology has played a major part in the development of many industries over centuries, from rudimentary tools and machinery to sophisticated digital technology. Automation has arguably made the greatest difference to work practice over the last few decades but not all forms of automation are the same. While robots have been enlisted to perform a range of tasks, there are significant differences between industrial robots and collaborative robots – or cobots.
Differences Between Industrial Robots and Collaborative Robots
One of the most fundamental differences between cobots and industrial robots is that cobots are specifically designed to work alongside humans. Industrial robots typically replace human workers. Cobots operating in the pharma and life sciences industry carry out tasks that are often menial and repetitive. They can complement the work done by humans or allow human workers to diversify their roles and focus on value-added tasks. This can include focusing on planning, public relations, or research and development.
More specifically, cobots integrate with existing machinery or working practices. They are introduced for particular tasks, such as dispensing, packing and palletizing, and quality inspection. An industrial robot is designed to take over an entire manufacturing process.
Why are Cobots Better Suited to Pharma and Life Sciences?
Cobots are much more versatile than industrial robots, which is a major advantage to pharma companies. Many cobots are small and lightweight, meaning they can be operated on desks and in small labs. They are also easier to reprogram for different tasks and can intuitively pick up and learn new actions. This is useful for processes such as dispensing which rely on precision.
Cobots are also programmed to recognize human positioning in the life sciences workplace and adjust accordingly while also maintaining a safe working environment. Industrial robots are much more rigid and safety measures make them much more difficult to repurpose.
In life sciences, where experimentation and research can require a fluid working environment, cobots are much more adaptable.
What are the Other Benefits of Cobot Use in Pharma and Life Sciences?
The use of cobots in pharma and life sciences is much more cost-effective. Their flexibility in terms of reprogramming means they are virtually future-proof concerning industrial robots. Hardware and tooling are smaller and therefore cheaper and can perform a range of different tasks with different software. Parts are also smaller and easier to replace, and as operators become more familiar with them by working closely with them, they can often carry out minor repairs, services, and maintenance operations themselves.
Overall, cobots are easier to use and much more versatile for use in pharma and life sciences. They increase efficiency and precision and are an investment that will continue to pay off for years to come.
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