skip to main content


This content will become publicly available on March 11, 2025

Title: Making Informed Decisions: Supporting Cobot Integration Considering Business and Worker Preferences
Robots are ubiquitous in small-to-large-scale manufacturers. While collaborative robots (cobots) have significant potential in these settings due to their flexibility and ease of use, proper integration is critical to realize their full potential. Specifically, cobots need to be integrated in ways that utilize their strengths, improve manufacturing performance, and facilitate use in concert with human workers. Efective integration requires careful consideration and the knowledge of roboticists, manufacturing engineers, and business administrators. We propose an approach involving the stages of planning, analysis, development, and presentation, to inform manufacturers about cobot integration within their facilities prior to the integration process. We contextualize our approach in a case study with an SME collaborator and discuss insights learned.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1822872 1925043 2026478 2152163
NSF-PAR ID:
10505254
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
ACM
Date Published:
Page Range / eLocation ID:
706 to 714
Format(s):
Medium: X
Location:
Boulder CO USA
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Ruis, Andrew R. ; Lee, Seung B. (Ed.)
    Rapid advances in technology also come with increased training needs for people who engineer and interact with these technologies. One such technology is collaborative robots, cobots, which are designed to be safer and easier to use than their traditional robotic counterparts. However, there have been few studies of how people use cobots and even fewer identifying what a user must know to properly set up and effectively use cobots for their manufacturing processes. In this study, we interviewed nine experts in robots and automation in manufacturing settings. We employ a quantitative ethnographic approach to gain qualitative insights into the cultural practices of robotics experts and corroborate these stories with quantitative warrants. Both quantitative and qualitative analyses revealed that experts put safety first when designing and monitoring cobot applications. This study improves our understanding of expert problem-solving in collaborative robotics, defines an expert model that can serve as a basis for the development of an authentic learning technology, and illustrates a useful method for modeling expertise in vocational settings. 
    more » « less
  2. Collaborative robots, or cobots, represent a breakthrough technology designed for high-level (e.g., collaborative) interactions between workers and robots with capabilities for flexible deployment in industries such as manufacturing. Understanding how workers and companies use and integrate cobots is important to inform the future design of cobot systems and educational technologies that facilitate effective worker-cobot interaction. Yet, little is known about typical training for collaboration and the application of cobots in manufacturing. To close this gap, we interviewed nine experts in manufacturing about their experience with cobots. Our thematic analysis revealed that, contrary to the envisioned use, experts described most cobot applications as only low-level (e.g., pressing start/stop buttons) interactions with little flexible deployment, and experts felt traditional robotics skills were needed for collaborative and flexible interaction with cobots. We conclude with design recommendations for improved future robots, including programming and interface designs, and educational technologies to support collaborative use. 
    more » « less
  3. Collaborative robots (cobots) are increasingly utilized within the manufacturing industry. However, despite the promise of collaboration and easier programming when compared to traditional industrial robots, cobots introduce new interaction paradigms that require more thought about the environment and distribution of tasks to fully realize their collaboration capabilities. Due to these additional requirements, these collaboration capabilities are underutilized in current manufacturing. Therefore, to make cobots more accessible and easy to use, new systems need to be developed that support users during interaction. In this research, we propose a set of tools that target cobot use for multiple groups of individuals that use them, to better support users and simplify cobot collaboration. 
    more » « less
  4. Worldwide, manufacturers are reimagining the future of their workforce and its connection to technology. Rather than replacing humans, Industry 5.0 explores how humans and robots can best complement one another's unique strengths. However, realizing this vision requires an in-depth understanding of how workers view the positive and negative attributes of their jobs, and the place of robots within it. In this paper, we explore the relationship between work attributes and automation goals by engaging in field research at a manufacturing plant. We conducted 50 face-to-face interviews with assembly-line workers (n=50), which we analyzed using discourse analysis and social constructivist methods. We found that the work attributes deemed most positive by participants include social interaction, movement and exercise, (human) autonomy, problem solving, task variety, and building with their hands. The main negative work attributes included health and safety issues, feeling rushed, and repetitive work. We identified several ways robots could help reduce negative work attributes and enhance positive ones, such as reducing work interruptions and cultivating physical and psychological well-being. Based on our findings, we created a set of integration considerations for organizations planning to deploy robotics technology, and discuss how the manufacturing and HRI communities can explore these ideas in the future. 
    more » « less
  5. Background and Situation Analysis

    The importance of Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) projects for the protection of health is embedded in the sustainable development goals. However, within the development and humanitarian fields sustainability of WASH projects is still a challenge with 30–50% of projects failing within two to five years of implementation. Though failure is not linked to any one source, a common theme speaks to a greater need for community engagement and integration of the wants and needs of the end-user in the design process. Social marketing, with its focus on the consumer and use of commercial marketing strategies to achieve behavior change is a promising approach that can be integrated into ongoing WASH initiatives to meet program outcomes and to achieve long-term sustainability.

    Priority audience

    Primary audience includes technicians who manufacture and repair pitcher pumps. Secondary audience includes community members in Toamasina, Madagascar, who will experience a decrease in exposure to lead through their water supply.

    Behavioral objectives

    Decrease exposure to lead (Pb) introduced through the use of a decentralized, self-supply water system, the pitcher pump. Specifically, decrease use of leaded components in the manufacturing and repair of pitcher-pumps

    Strategy/Intervention

    Development of the intervention followed the social marketing process including conducting a situational analysis, identification and selection of a behavioral focus and priority population, formative research, development of an integrated marketing strategy, pretesting the strategy, followed by campaign implementation, and monitoring and evaluation. An intervention focused on building a sense of community and introducing the element of professionalism for the pump manufacturers was developed, consisting of personalized one-on-one outreach to raise awareness of the health topic, followed by skill building trainings on how to make the switch to non-leaded components. This was coupled with tangible products that created a new professional network, documentation of work, and backing of work by trusted government entities.

    Evaluation Methods and Results

    Using the theory of planned behavior, a pre/post-test summative evaluation was developed. Preliminary results indicate that pump technicians no longer use lead in pumps unless specifically requested by the pump owners. These results indicate a positive shift towards the use of lead-free components with project follow-up and analysis ongoing.

    Recommendations for Social Marketing Practice

    Use of social marketing within the WASH sector is lacking. This paper demonstrates the integration of social marketing in an ongoing WASH project. Through a description of each step of the process, our experiences in implementing it and the lessons learned, we hope to guide future integration. Additionally, this paper demonstrates the convergence of engineers and social marketers working collaboratively on an interdisciplinary team and how this served to enhance project understanding, aid in building local partnerships and help with long-term sustainability.

     
    more » « less