In factories all around the world, people are working with a completely different type of co-worker: a dual-arm collaborative robot from ABB called YuMi®.
YuMi® is the world’s first truly collaborative dual-arm robot, designed to work safely alongside people, even on shared tasks, without fences or barriers. This means that it is becoming possible for factories to automate processes that have never been automated before—for example, having people and robots work together to assemble small electronics. This new way of working allows people to contribute their unique adaptability to change and problem solving, while the robots do what they do best: provide endless endurance for precise tasks. The robots take on jobs that are dull or pose injury risks from poor ergonomics or repetitive motion. This frees workers to address more rewarding cognitive challenges, such as working with the latest digital technologies and virtual reality, and with emerging ones such as artificial intelligence.
For manufacturers, the powerful collaboration between people and robots provides flexibility for today’s demanding markets. In industries that range from automotive to food to personal electronics, goods can be mass-customized with much greater variety, in lots as small as one. Many factories designed to produce large volumes of the same goods for a long time struggle to keep up with the pace of today’s markets or to efficiently launch new products fast enough for consumers’ voracious appetite for “the latest and the greatest.”
In a world where production is becoming more and more complex, digital technologies enable manufacturers to unlock hidden value. As a pioneering technology leader in digital industries, ABB drives this transformation with innovations that leverage data and smart automation to make enterprise more flexible and efficient, while at the same time lowering costs.
In Heidelberg, Germany, for example, ABB runs one of the world’s most advanced factories using robotics, connectivity and digitalization to increase productivity and flexibility. ABB’s YuMi® robot is also a breakthrough in terms of its ease of use. YuMi® is programmed by demonstration, where a person initially guides the robot’s two arms and grippers through the required series of movements to perform a task. These movements are then recorded on an intuitive smart tablet and played back to operate the robot. In the past, robot experts would have needed to program each point-to-point motion through specialized software.
By simplifying automation processes, more factory workers are able to participate in the “factory of the future” today. This is an important benefit for many small- and medium- size businesses that stand to benefit from robotics’ flexibility and scalability for growth.
In the past robots have mostly helped large-scale manufacturers like automakers, and required safety barriers and dedicated programming experts. Today, robots are helping many smaller businesses and new robot users thrive and grow, while providing people with more interesting and rewarding roles.