Many companies had to reorient themselves during the Corona period. In the short term, production had to be reorganized. Companies that previously produced spirits, for example, now produced disinfectants. This showed that companies that can react flexibly have an advantage. However, while the economy was stumbling, orders were plummeting and production was faltering, something very good was happening. Mid-sized companies were looking around for new ideas. The use of collaborative robots is one of those ideas.

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Business owners focus on innovations

Manufacturers are increasingly prepared to respond to economic problems with innovations. A large proportion of companies have made adjustments to their service and product portfolios or to their structures. Many companies are still in the process of planning adjustments.
One of these adjustments is the automation of manufacturing. With this adaptation, companies are much more resilient in crises. Cobots help companies to improve their adaptability and to react faster to market changes.
Many specialists and executives expect an automation boom in the coming years. It was already known before that automation is important. But the crisis showed a new urgency.

fertigungsbetriebe corona schweiz

Hofman Glastechnik also relies on automated manufacturing processes to increase the quality of its products for the medical industry.

Supply chains cannot always be relied upon

Reshoring is a term that became increasingly common during the Corona crisis. Long-established networks were faltering and it quickly became clear that replacements were needed for many supply chains. These replacements also needed to be effective in the face of market changes and delivery difficulties. It also became clear that proximity to the customer was more important than lower labor costs abroad.

It is in this trade-off between higher labor costs and lower dependencies that collaborative robots show their strengths. With cobots, companies can quickly reap the benefits of automation. Why is that? Most notably, cobots are incredibly easy to operate. No specially trained personnel are needed, because programming is very simple. After just a few hours, employees can set up and operate the cobot.
In addition, there is no need for the expensive protective enclosures that are otherwise required for industrial robots. This gives small and medium-sized companies the opportunity to produce domestically themselves. This reduces their dependence on international supply chains. Despite manufacturing in a high-wage country, companies that use cobots can sell at competitive prices.

fertigungsbetriebe corona schweiz schweissen

The food industry is booming. That’s why the mobile food equipment manufacturer Köhler has a lot to do. The welding cobot does a good job and helps to meet the demand.

Skilled workers must be better deployed

Home office, absence due to childcare, illness. All of these occurred frequently last year. Even manufacturing companies had to weigh various risks. The risk of quarantining all employees is high when everyone is working at the same time.
Companies that had already automated parts of production with cobots had a clear advantage in this situation. One example is the special machine builder Endutec. Since 2018, the company has been using a UR10e to load a CNC machine during the night shift. Without any production losses, the company was therefore able to send some of its employees to the home office. There they were able to write new CNC programs.

During this crisis, the needs of the employees became more and more apparent. Since then, there has been an increased focus on employee health and individual stress. Still, many skilled workers perform unergonomic, sometimes even dangerous and monotonous tasks in production. This ties up valuable skilled workers in tasks that cobots can also do. If you use a cobot for these tasks, you relieve your employees, who can contribute their valuable skills much better from now on.

fertigungsbetriebe corona schweiz ur10e

The UR10e feeds a machine so that Corona-compliant production can take place.

Necessity is the mother of invention

In times of crisis, companies increasingly look to innovations and new ways to make better use of existing resources. The automation of production with cobots is one of these innovations. Even industries in which cobots have previously played a minor role are showing their interest in cobots and are using collaborative robots for more and more applications.

Cobots have been used, for example, as disinfection robots in airports, train stations, nursing homes and hospitals. Even throat swabs are being performed by cobots.

This shows us that there is still a lot of potential for automation with cobots. No matter what industry, no matter what application, cobots can play a role.

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