With the fast growth in popularity of collaborative robots in recent years, there is a blurring of the lines (and misunderstanding) between the capabilities and performance of collaborative and industrial robots. Collaborative robots definitely have some advantages over industrial robots, but in this article, we will concentrate on why you might choose a traditional industrial robot instead. 

#1: Many Sizes (Flexibility)  

There are thousands of different industrial robot “arms” on the market today. For example, Yaskawa Motoman has over 100+ different “arm” configurations alone. Collaborative robot offerings are slimmer with only a handful of different “arms” available, capping the payload and reach options at 20kg and 1700mm, while industrial robots offer payloads up to 900kg and reaches up to 4700mm. This allows machine designers and engineers maximum flexibility to choose the correct industrial robot for the task at hand. This further leads to engineers being able to optimize the automation design for space, speed, accuracy, repeatability and many other benefits. 

#2: Advanced Software Features (Most Capable) 

Not only do the payload and reach options make industrial robots the most capable, but the software features are far more advanced than their collaborative counterparts. These features include conveyor tracking, painting macros, welding macros, palletizing software, remote PLC control options such as Yaskawa Motoman’s MLX and Omron’s ePLC, and more. This feature set and functionality usually requires the user to be more involved technically to setup and deploy, but typically the benefits are worth the work. Collaborative robots just don’t yet have as many advanced features but are typically easier to setup and deploy because of it.

#3: Very Fast (Highest Throughput)

As mentioned previously, industrial robots are much faster than collaborative robots. For example, industrial robots can reach speeds in excess of 2000mm/second at the end effector while collaborative robots are limited to around 250mm/second while in collaborative mode. Even if a collaborative robot is not in collaborative mode, it will only reach maximum speeds up to 1400mm/second dependent on model and payload. By being able to reach speeds upwards of 10X that of collaborative robots, industrial robots help manufacturing companies significantly increase throughput with consistency and accuracy. 

#4: Highest Payload & Reach (More Tasks)  

As touched on in point #1, industrial robots have a significant advantage with payload and reach. This basically means that an industrial robot can do just about any task that a collaborative robot can do and many, many more. Tasks such as high-speed pick and place, welding, clinching, riveting, bulk material handling, advanced assembly, packaging, large scale palletizing, and the list goes on.

#5: MTBF (More Uptime Availability)  

The MTBF (or Mean Time Between Failure) for an industrial robot is generally around 2X higher than a collaborative robot. This leads to a significant advantage in the availability of this resource and consequently more uptime for automation machinery. The primary reason for this advantage is the higher end construction and selection of components for an industrial robot.

All these advantages for industrial robots do come with some considerations or limitations. Some of these include a larger footprint as these robots need to be guarded, humans can’t interact with the robot while in motion, there are no force limiting features to provide safety, and the programming environment requires more training and higher technical support. In the end, the expansion of industrial robots combined with the emergence of collaborative robots gives manufacturing companies and their engineers more options to help improve productivity and efficiency.

Mechatronic Solutions provides high quality automation technology products, solutions, and services to companies across nearly all industries in Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, and North Dakota. We take a consultative approach to helping customers reach their goals for successful automation projects. If you're interested in learning more about how robots can benefit your operations or would like to schedule a free demo, contact us today!