As part of its Industry 4.0 plan, Ford Motor Company tested their first set of collaborative robots, also known as co-bots. These new “employees” works with Ford’s assembly line workers in Cologne, Germany to make production faster and more efficient.
Industry 4.0 is a term used to describe a fourth industrial revolution which will be used in automation, data exchange, and manufacturing technologies. Ford did an internal crowdsourcing among more than 1,000 current production line workers to identify which tasks suits the new co-bots.
The co-bots worked hand-in-hand with the Ford workers in fitting heavy shock absorbers to the Fiesta as this task requires utmost accuracy, strength, and dexterity.
Although the co-bots only stand a little more than 3 feet, they are able to lift and position heavy shock absorbers into the Fiesta’s wheel arch. The workers can then just push a button to finish the installation.
One of the workers expressed its satisfaction with the co-bots as he said that working the heavy air-powered tools is a tough job.
According to Karl Anton, Director of Vehicle Operations in Ford Europe, these robots complement their employees with skills that can lead to a new world of production and design for new Ford models.
Moreover, the new co-bots are equipped with sensors that can detect if an arm or a finger is within its path. This is to ensure the safety of the production workers while working with them.
Co-bots were developed within 2 years of close partnership between Ford and KUKA Roboter GmbH, a German robot manufacturer. They are now reviewing further use of the robots that can range from shaking hands and making a coffee.
The automotive manufacturing industry is becoming more and more exciting as new technologies come in. As a review GM introduced the RoboGlove, a soft wearable robotic glove that can be used in car making and other industrial use. it is made up of sensors, actuators, and tendons – similar to that of the human hand. When worn, this could serve as a protection, extra grip, and added strength when doing factory work. It could also reduce stress which could increase the productivity rate.
To demonstrate how Ford’s co-bots work, check out the video posted below.