12 August 2022

Why is it not so easy to program cobots?

Only 5 minutes for programming? Are you sure?
You can often hear that cobot programming is simple. Indeed, it is easier than the traditional approach to programming industrial robots. Let's see where the difference is. Also, let's understand why ABAGY radically changes programming in both cases.
Differences between welding industrial robots and cobots
Before talking about programming, it is worth describing the differences between these types of robots
Industrial robots
Requires a safety system
Safe, can work with a person, equipped with sensors that will not allow collisions or harm to a person
Typical repeatability ± 0.03mm
Typical repeatability ± 0.03mm
High accuracy of linear and circular trajectories
Low accuracy of linear and circular trajectories
2.5x faster
Slower (so as not to harm the person)
up to 6.5ft
Load capacity
up to 20kg
Weight and size
Heavy. With high load capacity, they can additionally install heavy equipment (welding packages, any technical vision).
Lightweight, compact, and mobile.
But additional heavy equipment cannot be hung on them.
They may have a hollow robot arm, which is important for efficient welding
They don’t have a hollow robot arm.

They are often made of aluminum and have a lot of plastic parts. Need a protective case.
Ease of use
The traditional approach requires a programmer and a highly skilled robotic operator
Easier programming, but it requires a programmer too
The main cobot applications are Handling, Palletizing, Loading/Unloading, and Inspection. Cobots are light, compact, and safe. However, if your priorities are speed and accuracy, opt for industrial robots. They are also a better fit when it comes to welding.
Programming differences
Three levels of programming freedom
  • Industrial robots – the most complicated way
  • Cobots – an easier way to program
  • Abagy – no programming required at all

Industrial Robot Online Programming vs Cobot Online Programming

Both types of robots have a teach pendant and the principle of online programming is very similar. It is necessary to program each coordinate of the robot's trajectory.

The cobot has a simpler teach pendant with 4-6 buttons (on/off commands, speed control). An industrial robot has 30-60 buttons, and it is necessary to remember dozens or even hundreds of their combinations.
The key difference: in the case of a cobot, you can pull the torch with your hands to the desired position and then press OK. The robot will remember the point. An industrial robot will have to be brought to the desired point using the teach pendant and buttons on it.

But in any case, the number of points and the need to program them will be similar. It's just a little more intuitive for a human, and it's easier to learn.

In both cases, production will also have to be stopped for the duration of the programming.

If the task changes, then in both cases it will be necessary to make changes in the program with the teach pendant.
Cobot programming
5 minutes of programming a cobot is valid only for simple straight welds. Programming complex geometry or a circular weld will be equally long and difficult on both types of robots.

When a cobot is guided manually, the trajectory may not be accurate. The system can correct it. But at the same time, it does not calculate collisions and does not offer optimal options. The human will have to decide and show the robot what each trajectory should be.

Industrial Robot Offline System vs Cobot Block Programming

The idea of offline programming is to remove the need to program inside of the cell, moving the process to a virtual environment instead. The programmer still creates trajectories for robots and writes the code, but all of this happens inside of a virtual twin of the cell (with the computer interface).

Industrial Robot Offline System and Cobot Block Programming also work on similar principles. But Block programming is a bit more intuitive and simple than programming industrial robots.
Technical vision

There are several brands of cobots that are produced with technical vision (for example, Techman Robots, Taiwan, and Jaka Robots, China). It allows to avoid problems with the integration of vision. But the most popular cobot brand Universal Robots does not have it.

In general, both in the case of cobots and industrial robots, technical vision allows the use of parametric programming. That is, the trajectory can be shifted, but without recalculating the trajectories and taking into account the newly emerging collisions. This means that the ability to adapt to changes in the robot task is extremely limited, which is not the case when you use Abagy.
Techman Robots with technical vision
ABAGY technology
ABAGY is suitable for both industrial robots and cobots. This software drastically simplifies programming in both cases. Programming time is reduced to minutes instead of hours/days.

No programming
The system automatically generates robot trajectories taking into account possible collisions. No offline programming or online programming is required. It is only necessary to upload the 3D model of the product and set the required welding parameters. You can easily switch from product to product in minutes.

Adaptation to deviations
Abagy recalculates the robot trajectories on the fly, using technical vision and taking into account the location of the part or the deviations of the part that occurred during preassembly. It automatically suggests the most optimal trajectory, taking into account possible collisions.

Abagy is able to recognize fixtures/jigs and generate robot trajectories to prevent collisions. No programming is required.

Let's compare the programming time on the part example
There are 18 welds including circle welds, curved path welds, and welds with complicated reachability.
Industrial robots
Online programming 5 hours
Offline programming 3 hours + Online programming 1 hour
Online programming 4 hours
Offline programming 2 hours + Online programming 1 hour
10 minutes
Industrial robots and cobots have a fundamental difference in safety. Cobots were created to work with humans. Therefore, they are more mobile, and compact, with a more intuitive control interface. However, if your priorities are speed and accuracy, opt for industrial robots. They also have greater load capacity and reachability.

In both cases, programming works on similar principles: it is required to program each coordinate of the robot's trajectory.

ABAGY allows you to use the advantages of both robot types while making it possible not to program at all.


    Subscribe to the ABAGY Robotic Welding Vlog

    New video every Tuesday

    Don't miss the latest news. Subscribe to our newsletter!