Collaborative robots arrive at Castle Bromwich in a first for Jaguar Land Rover
C Block at Castle Bromwich has a somewhat special history having once produced the iconic Supermarine Spitfire. Now housing BIW production for the flagship Jaguar XJ, the block continues to make history as it becomes the first Jaguar Land Rover location to install collaborative robots, or ‘cobots’ for short.
Those familiar with BIW will know the huge part robots play in constructing our vehicles, you’ll be familiar with large orange industrial robots, locked safely behind fences, rapidly assembling car bodies. Any interaction with these robots requires strict safety controls to ensure that they cannot move while the operator is present.
This is why cobots are different…
Cobots as the name implies work in collaboration with the operator, the main thing you’ll notice when you see the one in C Block is that it is much smaller than the other robots in the area. There is no big fence, nor roller doors to keep people away from it, resulting in a much smaller overall footprint on the factory floor.
This is possible is because unlike traditional industrial robots, cobots are fitted with sensors that detect objects in their path. They also have other safety controls like soft round ergonomic edges and they must also meet strict pressure force tests to operate around people.
All this in the simplest terms means, it will gently stop if you get in its way.
This awareness enables people and cobots to safely share the same workspace and perform tasks collaboratively, or as in C Block the cobot applies sealant while its operator Ray Hobbs cracks on with other tasks.
“It is an excellent piece of engineering,” said Ray when I asked about the latest piece of kit installed in his station. “It applies the sealant really accurately and I can trust it to get on with that task while I get on doing the other parts of the process.”
Working together with the new cobot has saved 80 seconds of Ray’s time and also helps improve the repetitive quality in an area that otherwise has the potential to result in water leaks to the finished product.
When more generally applied cobots have the potential to reduce non-value added process time, cut part and component damage and ease repetitive strain injuries for operators. This coupled with the reduced cost, relative ease to move and greatly reduced space required, means that this Castle Brom first will likely spread across the business.