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Human-robot collaboration

Human-robot collaboration

Human-robot collaboration

Human-robot collaboration plays an essential role in industry 4.0. Robots, which work directly and safely with humans without additional protective surroundings, support people in their role as decision-makers and leaders of industry 4.0.

Two white circles with violet contours overlap. One circle contains the word "human", the other one the word "machine", the overlapping area the product name APAS.

The idea behind human-robot collaboration is to unite the skills of humans and machines. Together, they can achieve much more than they could by themselves. While the robot is especially precise and enduring, humans have problem solving competencies, which machines cannot offer, despite their access to large amounts of data. Collaborative robots, so-called cobots, support humans without replacing them. Instead, they supplement the unique abilities humans and relieve them as an immediate assistant in the accomplishment of their tasks.

Human-robot collaboration
Picture showing a hand in front of which the APAS assistant has contactlessly stopped thanks its sensor skin.

Contact-free human-robot collaboration

Collaborative robots or cobots work hand in hand with their human colleagues. Safe identification and collision prevention come first in human-robot collaboration. As opposed to most other robots on the market, our robot solutions stop automatically and without contact if an employee gets too close. This is possible thanks to our unique capacitive sensor skin. Equipped with more than 120 sensors, the skin enables the robot to stop automatically and without contact at a safe speed of 0.5 m/s with a secure switching distance of typical 50 mm.

Once the employee has left the immediate vicinity, the robot independently resumes its work exactly where it stopped before. Our sensor skin forms a key technology for human-robot collaboration. Hence we guarantee the safe identification of humans by our solutions at performance level d (category 3, two-channel safety). All our systems are also certified by the German employers' liability insurance association for the direct and safe human-robot collaboration.

A Round drawing that illustrates how the APAS assistant stops automatically when the immediate vicinity is undershot

The automatic speed adjustment regulates the working speed of the robot and adapts it flexibly to the presence or absence of persons. As long as no employee is in the monitored distance range, the robot operates at 4.6 times the speed at a path velocity of 2.3 m/s. If the distance is missed by an employee, the APAS assistant automatically switches to a safe speed of 0.5 m/s.

Picture showing the APAS assistant mobile and a schematic presentation
Here you will find a PDF for the automatic speed adjustment of the APAS assistant

Automatic speed adjustment

Here you will find a PDF for the automatic speed adjustment of the APAS assistant

Benefits Human-robot collaboration

All benefits at a glance:

Flexibility in production

Space-saving automation through collaborative applications

Cost-effective optimization of existing process structures

Relief of employees

Increasing efficiency and productivity

Cost reduction by the elimination of protective fences

FAQs

What is the benefit of human-robot collaboration?

Human-robot collaboration combines the strengths of the robot with those of humans. The direct interaction of both partners allows new forms of cooperation, the optimization of existing process structures and relieves people of monotonous, simple work or ergonomically challenging movements. Human-robot collaboration also allows space-saving automation without the need to modify existing structures.

Are jobs lost by the use of robots?

Clearly, no. Germany is one of the most automated sites in the world with high industrial production at current record employment. Robots and also collaborating robots will increasingly take over work which is unattractive for humans or health-endangering in the long term. In addition, Bosch is working on the collaboration of robots and disabled people in various projects to enable them to achieve a successful working life and a meaningful employment, according to the company motto "Invented for life".

Why should I choose an APAS assistant?

Whether mobile, integrated into our own systems, as a component of manual workstations, fully or partially automated, retrofitted or in the course of machine and system construction - our systems fit seamlessly into your overall concept. All our robotic solutions have a unique non-contact safety technology and allow the highest level of collaboration in which humans and robots work together instead of side by side. Intuitive operating concepts also allow user-friendly handling without expert knowledge.

How does Bosch ensure safety?

The safety of our systems is guaranteed by our unique capacitive sensor skin, which automatically detects our human colleagues as they approach them. Even before a collision occurs, our systems stop completely contactless. All systems have a type examination of the German employers' liability insurance association and fulfill the performance level d.

What is Performance Level d?

The Performance Level (PL) provides information about the reliability of a safety function. The scale over which the performance level is measured ranges from a (least PL) to e (highest PL). The higher the PL, the safer and more reliable the function is considered.

If the system is safe why should the application be considered separately?

The APAS assistant is supplied as an incomplete machine with installation declaration. Only in conjunction with the application does it become a complete machine. Therefore, the application must be considered separately and declared to be safe. According to the EU Machinery Directive, a machine may only be operated with CE mark. The operator is then responsible for the intended use and correct operation.

I would like to use the APAS assistant mobile in my production. Does a CE mark have to be created for each application?

This depends on how different the applications are. A new CE mark may also be required if an application is only to be adapted. The Machinery Directive refers to a "major change" here. Whether it is a major change can be easily determined. We would be happy to advise you.

Who makes the CE mark?

CE marks can be issued by Bosch - even for applications that Bosch has not created itself. The requirements can be defined in a detailed discussion.

I would like to set up a collaborative workplace, but classic robots are much faster. What can I do?

With the optional automatic speed adjustment of the APAS assistant, the working speed of the robot can be flexibly adapted to the environment. This feature enables the reduction of cycle times and allows full collaboration with high process speed.

How does the automatic speed adjustment work?

An APAS assistant interface for automatic speed adjustment automatically adjusts the working speed of the robot, depending on the presence or absence of people. As long as no employee is in the monitored distance range, the robot operates at 4.6 times the speed at a path velocity of 2.3 m/s.

If the distance is missed by an employee, the APAS assistant automatically switches to a safe speed of 0.5 m/s. In case the distance to the robot arm is less than 50 mm, the sensor skin is activated and the system stops. In general, the distance range can be adjusted up to a minimum distance of 1200 mm to the working range of the robot.

What does an APAS cost?

This depends on which system you are interested in. The APAS assistant mobile, for example, is a complete mobile production assistant with camera support and gripper and therefore has to be compared with a complete machine. The other models APAS assistant inline and inline plus are stationary collaborative robots. The plus variant includes a complete control system with a comprehensive software stack (e.g. connection to MES). If this is not required, the APAS assistant inline is a cost-effective solution that can be integrated and programmed like a classic robot.

What should I do if I am interested in a system?

If you are interested in a system, you can contact us via our contact form. We will call you back in time to get a picture of your situation and discuss the possibilities with you.

Generally, we recommend a feasibility study before purchasing a device or a complete solution. Within this framework, we test the feasibility of a task with regard to suitability, cycle time, range and other application-specific questions in order to be able to make a reliable statement about the suitability of the solution or device before purchase. If you are unsure whether one of our solution is right for you, we would be pleased to offer you renting systems to test the suitability of the system without obligation.

Various application possibilities

With our collaborative robots we offer innovative automation solutions. Whether mobile, integrated into own machines or as components of manual workstations, whether fully or semi-automated, upgraded or implemented during ramp-up – our robots are suited for many applications, in different industries. Read more in our success stories.