Engineering Headlines

People and robots are getting closer at the workplace

Close cooperation
“Hello, colleague” the robot will not say. And yet humans and robots will increasingly work hand in hand in the future.

Robotics is one of the trend themes at Hannover Messe. The man machine collaboration belongs to the factory of the future and thus to the industry 4.0.

So much is certain: in the factory of the future, people and robots work side by side in a confined space, without the fences of machines being used to protect people.

Today, industrial robots are more of a force which winds up their work according to a fixed program and without regard for people who are ruthless.

 Whoever gets in the way has a painful problem. In the future, the focus will be on human-robot collaboration (MRK), the Collaborative Robot, Cobot for short, is the new star of industry 4.0.

The trend is towards the Cobot

According to forecasts by the International Federation of Robotics, around 1.4 million new industrial robots are to be installed around the world, including numerous cobots.

“Smaller companies in particular need cost-efficient, easy to use solutions if they want to take advantage of the opportunities offered by industry 4.0,” says Arno Reich, department manager for the automation units at Hannover Messe.

“This is where the Cobots come into play.”

The issue of safety is at the top of the agenda.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF headquartered in Magdeburg conducts research on tactile and capacitive sensor systems and safe kinematics, carries out collision tests and develops systems for sensory monitoring of workspaces.
“We are developing technologies that enable robots to move freely among us, and which, on the other hand, allow people to work with the machine intuitively without any risk of injury,” explains Dr. Norbert Elkmann, Business Unit Manager Robotic Systems at Fraunhofer IFF.

Volkswagen is relying on MRK for golf

Since last summer, Volkswagen has been using MRK in the production of its Golf series in its Wolfsburg factory.

Colleagues robots help with the drive set-up pre-assembly, this is the completion of the individual drive set components to a mountable motor.

While the operator screwed the starter, the robot mounted the so-called pendulum support parallel to the same drive set.

This is due to the drive set at a location that is difficult for people to access.

No fence separates man and machine, the force sensors in the robot perceive every touch or force. When a contact occurs, the robot freezes its movements immediately.

 “The bolting of the pendulum support in the drive set-up assembly is the first MRK application in a vehicle-branded Volkswagen factory,” says Martin Goede, who heads the technology planning and development department at Vr

Robots must be mobile

For the Augsburger robotic specialist Kuka, MRK must even be mobile in order to increase production efficiency. “The goal is a capacity of more than 20,000 robots per year in Augsburg,” explains Andreas Ostermann von Roth, Executive Vice President Operations at Kuka Roboter.

 Therefore, the robot production in Augsburg is now supported by a mobile robot.

Minimum wage also for robots

The business idea of Matthias Krinke shows just how far the Cobots have already been in production.

He is the founder of Robocene, according to his own statements, the world’s first personnel recruitment and robotic time keeping company.

 Krinke promises that the Robocene mediated robots receive the current minimum wage of 8.84 euros.

“You can use the robots as a security assistant or as a cashier at the supermarket,” says the Cobot mediator, who manages himself without employees.

“I do not need any staff, I have robots.”

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