IMR and the Robotics Executive Committee (REC) carried out an industry survey as primary research on the real reasons Human-Robot Collaborative Applications are not wide-spread. The objective of the survey is to understand the current state of collaborative robotics applications in manufacturing and to identify the major concerns that engineering managers and manufacturing directors have which prevent the wider adoption of collaborative robotics applications.
Despite the potential benefits collaborative robots bring, the uptake of human-robot collaborative applications in industry is still sporadic. According to the IFR, less than 4% of the 381,000 industrial robots globally installed in 2017 were collaborative robots, with only a small fraction being used in a human-robot collaborative mode.
The collaborative robotics adoption survey was developed in conjunction with the Robotics Executive Committee (REC) and included questions about the level of engagement with robotics and collaborative robot applications and on the level of concerns around safety, workforce, and organisation challenges. The paper and online forms were disseminated between July 2019 and October 2019.
The results of the industry survey indicate that while most of the surveyed have started or have deployed collaborative robotics applications (73% of the participants), the level of human-robot collaboration is mostly limited to Sequential collaboration and below (12 participants over 16 who have started/already deployed Human-Robot Collaborative applications).
The lack of a clear and methodical process for Health & Safety sign-off and the lack of definitive reference documents/standards are the most prevalent concerns across the 23 surveyed individuals and have been the most frequently rated as preventing a meaningful engagement with human-robot collaborative applications at this time.
The information extracted from the survey allows a clearer understanding of where the barriers to the adoption of Human-Robot Collaborative applications lie. This is helping to define our research activities and thus maximise the impact on the Irish manufacturing ecosystem.
Senior Robotics & Automation Researcher
Automation and Advanced Control