The Technology that Takes a Cobot to the Next Level

Learn which technologies an OB7 cobot uses to make set up, cycle time, and CNC machine tending fast, easy, and safe.

OB7 cobots

It is fascinating to watch a collaborative robotic arm tending a CNC machine in an automated workstation. The cobot works consistently without missing a beat - loading and unloading parts unattended without breaks. While it’s easy to focus on the system as a whole, learning about the different elements of the cobot and the various pieces of equipment that work together to create the automated system is equally important to fully understand the value that cobots provide.


In this blog, we’ll break it down the features of a cobot, accessories that come with them, and unique features that make some cobots, like Productive Robotics' OB7, beneficial for applications like CNC machine tending.


High Tech Features for High Performance Cobots


The features you look for in a cobot depend on your specific application and production goals. Cobots come in various shapes and sizes, but they are all equipped with safety features that make them safe to work alongside individuals without being enclosed behind a fence or cage. Cobots come with add-ons to extend their capabilities as well. Here are some common features of cobots:


Axes of Motion


cobot performing complex maneuvers

Axes of motion allow a robotic arm to move in different directions. Multiple axes on a single arm allow for flexible movements to move in different directions like inside boxes or in machines. Many cobots only have six axes but adding a seventh, like what you'll find in the OB7 cobot, provides an additional degree of freedom to be placed to the side of the machine door, allowing access to the workpieces and interiors of CNC machines. A robot with 6 axes would have to be placed directly in front of the machine door, blocking access for the machine operator.


Grippers and End-of-Arm Tooling (EOAT)


suction cups

Grippers and tooling are available for almost any application. A caliper or encompassing style gripper is very common but other options include suction or vacuum cups or three or more “fingers” for manipulating delicate objects. Some cobots can even be equipped with grinders or cutting tools. The weight of the gripper or tooling counts toward the payload, or weight limit, of the arm.The OB7, for example, accepts multiple tools such as the OB7-PG1 gripper, Robotiq 2 finger-82, Robotiq 2 finger-140, Robotiq parallel gripper, Schunk collaborative gripper, On-Robot brand grippers, Phd brand grippers, and most other collaborative grippers.

  • The OB7, for example, accepts multiple tools such as the OB7-PG2 gripper, Robotiq 2 finger-82, Robotiq 2 finger-140, Robotiq parallel gripper, Schunk collaborative gripper, On-Robot brand grippers, Phd brand grippers, and most other collaborative grippers.

  • When a task requires two different grippers, a dual gripper adapter can be used to quickly switch between them. An example such as lathe operations, which generally have short cycle times requiring an operator to constantly wait for the machine. Using a dual gripper frees up time and allows the operator to focus on preparing other jobs.

Teachability


drag-and-drop interface

Many cobots offer “easy programming” but the smartest cobots require no programming at all. OB7 cobots from Productive Robotics can perform complex tasks without the complex programming associated with traditional manufacturing robot automation. An intuitive drag-and-drop interface makes it easy for operators to understand how to give the cobot work instructions as they move it through each part of a task. Once saved, the instructions are run over and over, performing the steps it learned repeatedly until it’s told to stop. Not only does this make it quick to get a cobot set up and running, it’s easy to update directions or even redeploy it to another workstation entirely.


General Equipment Interface


cobot tending CNC machine

The CNC machine is the star of the show while the cobot arm plays a supporting role by tending the machine, loading and unloading parts, and pressing the start button. But to optimize workflow and cycle time, these partner machines need to be in sync. OB7 simply relies on a general equipment interface module to keep the machines coordinated. With multiple inputs and outputs, it’s simple for them to signal each other when each task is finished. For example, the cobot loads a blank and signals the CNC lathe, the lathe then closes its door, completes its operation and re-opens the door, then signals the cobot to remove the finished workpiece.


Remote Access and Connectivity


cobot working through the night

The CNC machine is the star of the show while the cobot arm plays a supporting role by tending the machine, loading and unloading parts, and pressing the start button. But to optimize workflow and cycle time, these partner machines need to be in sync. OB7 simply relies on a general equipment interface module to keep the machines coordinated. With multiple inputs and outputs, it’s simple for them to signal each other when each task is finished. For example, the cobot loads a blank and signals the CNC lathe, the lathe then closes its door, completes its operation and re-opens the door, then signals the cobot to remove the finished workpiece.


Vision


on-board camera