Operate at Your Optimum with Collaborative Robots

November 14, 2019 | Chad Engelkes

Chad Engelkes, Automation Product Manager, Van Meter Inc.

Traditional industrial robots have been used in manufacturing for decades. But a new type of technology called “cobots” – or collaborative robots – is designed to work safely with and alongside people instead of being isolated and guarded inside of a cage like most robots deployed today.

Cost effective, lightweight and easy to program, cobots are improving productivity, quality and consistency in plants of all types and sizes.


To determine whether a cobot would be beneficial for your environment, ask these questions:

Could routine tasks be automated?

When dirty, repetitive and/or precision jobs can be assigned to cobots (like machine tending, material handling and dispensing), it aids or even frees up employees to complete other jobs. Automating can also improve safety and reduce worker injuries. Check out the many applications for cobots available today. 

Does a task require interaction with workers?

Cobots allow workers to interact directly with the robot without removing power or being burdened by guarding and restart procedures by employing safety functions to comply with ISO robot collaboration standards.

Do you have workforce needs that fluctuate?

To reduce the need for temporary employees or mandatory overtime these lightweight robots can be implemented when and where you need them to meet production commitments.

Do you want to automate but need a quick ROI?

Part of the cost effectiveness of cobots is exhibited by the short return on investment many users have experienced. A six- to eight-month ROI is not uncommon. It is an automation investment even a CEO would like.

Do you need a solution that requires the flexibility of a robot but is easy to program?

Cobots offered by Van Meter are designed with an emphasis on ease of programming for people of various backgrounds and skill levels. Some task paths can simply be taught by moving the robot by hand from point to point.


Designed for flexibility, a cobot can be re-deployed as often as needed. After being tasked with dispensing gasketing material, it can quickly be reprogrammed and redeployed to tend a press, injection molding machine or CNC. It is also easy to maintain. Cobot joints can be replaced in the field so it can be back up and running within minutes.


If you think cobots would provide value to your production environment, working with Van Meter, and our partner Universal Robots, is a great way to learn more. We can answer questions, help ensure this is the right technology for your application, consider ROI, aid in proof of concept, train and offer a complete solution (mounting, grippers, cameras, complementary safety devices and controls).

If needed, we can also find the right integrator to help with the complete robot implementation. We’ll help you make the right selection, ensure that you receive training and address issues or questions that come up along the way.

Chad Engelkes is an automation product manager at Van Meter Inc. in Cedar Rapids. Email him at EngelkeC@vanmeterinc.com.