A few ideas guide automation in manufacturing, particularly for engineers at companies such as Ford—safety, quality, and productivity, to name a few. The rise of Industry 4.0 includes another important idea: Collaboration. Ford has added collaborative robots (also known as cobots) to traditional automation to evolve. Cobots assist humans in their work and feature advanced sensors for fine-tuned work. They are hands-on, and quicker to learn for the workers who use them.
Ford now uses cobots on quarter glass, engine inspection, and more. Next steps currently in development include increasing machine vision for detailed work, maximizing payload for heavy work, and reducing the footprint of the manufacturing process overall. Cobots are being implemented right now across the industry as part of the shift into the factory of tomorrow.