Collaborative Automation Levels the Playing Field!

Collaborative robot arms (“cobots”) have leveled the playing field for small and mid-sized manufacturers. For decades, large manufacturers have had the advantage of automation, using traditional industrial robots. But these large, expensive, and complex robots are designed for high volumes and unchanging production processes—unlike the low-volume/high-mix production that is typical for smaller manufacturers.

Collaborative automation has become a versatile, cost-effective, and user-friendly technology that allows businesses of almost any size (and any level of technical expertise) to increase productivity, improve quality, and respond more nimbly to changing customer demands.

But while cobots have become easier to buy and implement, they’re only part of the equation.

The robot itself can’t do any work without end-of-arm tooling (EoAT) such as grippers, sensors, and other automation peripherals.

With new EoAT technology advances, small and mid-sized manufacturers can now automate even more processes, including those that require the delicacy and precision of human fingers along with the repeatability and productivity of a robot.

What’s changed to make EOAT so important?

As collaborative automation has matured, the importance of the EoAT decision has grown. The differences between traditional and collaborative applications highlight the critical EoAT decisions that will impact your automation—and business—success.


Traditional Applications
Collaborative Applications
EoAT Need

Big batches, little variability

Ideal for large companies that manufacture high volumes of the same products for long periods

Low-volume, high-mix

​Designed for low-volume, high-mix production, where the robot is often redeployed for new processes

Flexible, quick-change tooling to eliminate downtime between various processes

Complex deployment

Requires extensive programming skills and takes days or weeks to set up

Fast and easy deployment

Easy to deploy with simple programming that even inexperienced users can set up within minutes.

Tooling that is fast and easy to program and deploy

Requires constancy

Programmed for unchanging environment and the same movement with minimal need to adapt

Adapts to environment

Flexible to adapt to changing environments and workpieces to be handled

Tools that easily adapt to varying sizes, shapes, and conditions of workpieces and the environment

Not safe without guarding

Typically requires safety guarding to keep human workers out of the robot’s work cell

Collaborative and safe

After risk assessment, humans can work alongside robots in collaborative applications

Safe, collaboratively designed tools that simplify interaction with humans

Focus on the robot

Repeats the same actions for years, with unchanging tools that are integrated for a specific process

Focus on the EoAT

As robot arm becomes a commodity, focus shifts to EoAT to increase robot utilization

Flexible tooling that can be used for multiple processes

Big investment, longer ROI

Expensive robots, system integration, and operator training requires large upfront investment and takes longer for ROI

Lower upfront cost, faster ROI

Competitive pricing, in-house integration, and ease-of-use minimize up-front costs and speed integration, uptime, and ROI

Cost-effective tooling that speeds integration and reduces need for additional equipment

Reduced deployment time

Collaborative technologies are designed for easy programming, even for operators without any robotics experience. That allows small manufacturers to take control of their automation plans, experimenting and integrating new applications independently as new needs arise. Employees—even those with no technical background—quickly learn how to use the robot and adapt the tooling for new, more efficient processes with minimal downtime between changes.

Flexible production

Businesses that continue using traditional methods, such as fabricating unique tools for specific manufacturing tasks, are at a significant disadvantage because of the high cost and inflexible nature of this approach. In comparison, flexible, application-focused EoAT can be easily deployed to handle different shapes, sizes, materials, and processes. These flexible, highly versatile tools can be seamlessly integrated into multiple production environments.

Higher ROI

Advancements in EOAT allow robots to handle a growing range of industrial tasks and lead to faster ROI for manufacturers. Safe, collaborative EOAT lowers automation costs since workers can work with them without additional safety guarding, complex programming, or installation costs. The tools are flexible and easily deployed, so operators can quickly switch between multiple tasks with minimal need for additional programming or tool swapping. And the tools allow robots to complete tasks with greater precision and reliability than human operators, so they can operate around the clock and dramatically increase production.

How to Optimize Collaborative Applications with the Right EoAT

Cobots and light industrial robots are now being used in a wider range of applications than ever because of advances in end effectors that provide greater value in more environments. Along with handling variations in product size, weight, and shape, EOAT also enables robots to accommodate several processes at once. As robot arms become commoditized, the choice of cobot becomes less important than the choice of EoAT.

OnRobot offers a full range of innovative EoAT that work with any collaborative or light industrial robot arm.

HEX 6 Axis F/T Sensor

Automates tasks that require human dexterity and sensitivity with accurate force and torque sensing in 6 axes

Quick Changer

Change tools within 5 seconds with minimal impact to payload and programming

VG10 Electric Vacuum Gripper

Highly versatile, no external air supply/compressor for less cost and noise

RG2-FT Gripper

Automates new range of tasks and enables true collaboration with advanced sensory and handling capabilities

Gecko Gripper

Lifts solid or porous objects without marking and without external air supply

RG2/RG6 Gripper

Automates tasks that require human dexterity and sensitivity with accurate force and torque sensing in 6 axes

EoAT: The Next Frontier for Collaborative Robotic Innovation

“The innovation that is occurring in the field of end effectors is the next frontier for collaborative robotic innovation. As collaborative robotic arms move towards commoditization, the innovation occurring around the end-of-arm tooling will enable organizations to deploy robotic technology in new ways.”

John Santagate, Research Director for Commercial Service Robotics at IDC