Ford Cologne collaborative robotsGermany – New collaborative robots, or co-bots, are helping assembly workers to fit shock absorbers to Fiesta cars. Personnel at two workstations are using the three-feet-tall robots to lift and automatically position the shock absorber into the wheel arch, before pushing a button to complete installation.

According to Ngali Bongongo, a production worker at Ford Cologne: “Working overhead with heavy, air-powered tools is a tough job that requires strength, stamina and accuracy. The robot is a real help.”

The trial at the assembly plant in Cologne is part of Ford’s investigations into Industry 4.0. The vehicle-maker sought feedback from more than 1,000 production line workers to identify tasks for which the new robots would be most suited. The co-bots were developed over two years with Kuka Roboter and are equipped with hi-tech sensors, enabling them to stop immediately if they detect a human arm or even a finger in their path, thus ensuring worker safety.

Ford is now considering further use of the robots. Klaus Link, key account manager for the OEM at Kuka Roboter, said: “As part of our close partnership with Ford and based on the feedback from employees, we are looking forward to further challenges.”

Watch a video of the robots in action here.