The future is underway and it stops at Witry-les-Reims, a few kilometers from Reims. A small revolution is brewing there with the arrival of “Cobots”, a neologism born from the contraction between collaborative and robot. Capable of screwing, welding, installing or packaging, the Cobot learns quickly: its arm knows how to repeat then reproduce the gesture imposed on it by man.
The Danish manufacturer of automated arms Universal Robots and its distributor Sysaxes organized a stage of their Collaborate UR20 Tour on Thursday for business leaders from the Marne. They were able to attend demonstrations of this equipment at the heart of the Marne company Carbody, an automotive equipment manufacturer, which has 500 employees and… nineteen cobots.
Equipped with an articulated aluminum arm and a cell with sensors, the cobot adapts to its environment, whether in the medical, agri-food or plastics industries. “They are there to help operators with their repetitive tasks. Where a robot whose programming has been frozen tirelessly repeats its action, the cobot collaborates with man. For example, we can show him the welding process and adjust it at any time by taking it in hand,” summarizes Erik Pourtau, co-founder of Sysaxes.
“He carries out repetitive and tiring tasks”
The cost of a cobot can vary between €25,000 to €50,000 for the first ranges. But the image of the “robot” being too hard to program or too expensive to finance still sticks to him. “That’s why we’re making it take charge of the industry. One application that we propose is palletizing, all manufacturers have their product which ends up on a pallet. And the cobot allows them to respond to the labor shortage. »
At Carbody, in Witry-les-Reims, the first cobot was installed in 2012. An initiative of the director of industrial projects, Yves Bo. The company produces cranksets, axle seals and many other parts for the automotive sector. “I wanted a simple tool that was easy to use. Today we have nineteen cobots doing control, packaging or embly. We have completely changed the work of the people behind the presses. We were able to increase productivity, while tackling arduousness. Because the cobot carries out the most repetitive and tiring tasks. »
But for now, the era of robotics is only just beginning in France. There are still certain cultural obstacles faced with the fear of killing jobs. The International Federation of Robotics counted nearly 40,000 cobots worldwide in 2021. In France, their number increased by 42% between 2021 and 2022 and we now reach 660 units.