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Cobots at Radiall

août 2022

The concept of robots has been around for many years. Now in the 21st century, it is an exciting reality that robots, whether they are large-scale machines at work in manufacturing or nearly human-like interactive creatures, are becoming more commonplace features in daily life. Perhaps less commonly known in the world of robots, however, is a smaller relative of the large-scale robot: the cobot, short for collaborative robot. These little machines are designed to work alongside humans, and they are becoming part of the everyday workflow for some manufacturing sites at Radiall. 

What are Cobots?

Robots are often categorized into two types: industrial and service. Industrial robots are usually large and isolated from human contact and activity, typically behind fenced or gated areas. This is a safety precaution, as the robot’s activity may be dangerous to people in close proximity. The cobot, however, is a type of service robot. These robots are designed to share workspaces with humans, which provides a more seamless automation integration approach.

Cobots can be designed with a variety of features and can be easily programmed for their designated task. Their hardware can include sensors and actuators, information processing capabilities, video processing and more, depending on their intended application. While they are not fenced off and are able to work in tandem with humans, they are equipped with highly responsive sensors that can react to touch and proximity. These sensors can be coupled with radar to detect the presence of people nearby and then decrease the speed of the robot if someone is too close. When touched, they can automatically power off so as to prevent any potential injury to whoever is nearby. They may also power off if their sensors detect anything abnormal in their proximity. 

Introducing YuMi®

Radiall’s first cobot, YuMi® by ABB, was brought onto the team in 2017 at our L’Isle d’Abeau location in France, making Radiall one of the first companies in France to implement a YuMi® cobot in production. YuMi® is compact and its job is to assist in the automation of specific processes like product assembly. Each arm on the YuMi® cobot is capable of lifting 250 g, so it is ideal for assembling a variety of our lightweight products such as fiber optic connectors. While cobots can be designed to function directly with humans, at the moment YuMi® only works indirectly with the employees at Radiall. 

The integration of YuMi® at Radiall was one project that contributed to our receipt of the Industry of the Future label in 2022. This label, which the Alliance Industrie du Futur awards, is given to companies that are developing projects that innovate and redefine their industries while still placing people at the heart of their industrial transformation. The presence of YuMi® was one of several projects that earned us the label and its implementation has been so successful that there are plans to implement similar projects at other worksites in the future.

Watch Radiall’s very own YuMi® in action at L’Isle d’Abeau.

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