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Collaborative Robots, also known as cobots, work alongside humans in a shared workspace or production line. Cobots are designed with extra security features to ensure worker safety. They are lightweight, compact, and nimble. Cobots are easy to program and are capable of performing multiple tasks.
elliTek has partnered with Elite RobotsFanucHanwha Robotics, and Yaskawa Motoman to provide businesses with a variety of cobots capable of performing strenuous, tedious, and repetitive tasks. Before making an investment, there are differences between cobots and industrial robotic arms that should be considered.

Listen to elliTek's podcast "Industrial Automation - It Doesn't Have To... Be Menial" to hear the differences between collaborative robots and industrial robots, as well as applications that are better suited for cobots and some that aren't. 

Industrial Robot Arms vs Cobots - What's the difference?

Although industrial robot arms and cobots look similar, there are some big differences to consider before making an investment. Cobots can be more flexible and sometimes less expensive than industrial robots but they are normally not as fast and precise.

Cobots vs industrial robots courtesy of Hanwha

Image courtesy of Hanwha Robotics.


Cobots are typically less expensive than industrial robots mainly because of their size. When looking at the robotic investment as a whole, take into consideration your current employees. With cobots, your employees don't have to be robotics experts to oversee or maintain. Here are some criteria to consider when selecting a robot.



Cobots work side-by-side with associates, so cobots are relatively small and flexible. They can be applied immediately without changing the production layout. The quick changeover time allows cobots to produce many different low-volume products.

Industrial robot arms require extra space and safety fences. elliTek's engineers have designed pre-engineered robotic work cells that can be viable alternatives to cobots depending on the application requirements.


Cobots are designed to work safely with people. They are created with softer materials and rounded edges, as well as reduced speed and strength compared to industrial robots. Advanced safety features include sensors to shut down if the cobot should come in contact with an associate. As Brandon says in elliTek's podcast, he has never seen a collaborative robot without some type of guarding. If you have, let Brandon know!

Industrial robot arms require safety equipment such as fencing, dividers, light curtains, area scanners, or emergency stops. The extra equipment can add to the cost of the robotic arm. 


Cobots are not intended for heavy-duty applications. They can handle payloads of 3kg to 35kg. Industrial robot arms can handle payloads up to a couple of tons.


Applications that demand higher speeds are not ideal for cobots. Cobots are designed to work alongside people so their speeds are reduced for safety measures. 


Cobots are easily programmed with hand guiding making robot programming accessible to all associates. By pressing a button on the teach pendant, the user guides the cobot around the work envelope to define the task. The path is recorded and accessed from the teach pendant. Watch the video demonstration below.

This intuitive programming can also be a deterrent for applications requiring precise and delicate movements if the associate is unable to instruct the cobot properly. Whereas industrial robot arms (although more difficult to program) are programmed internally which can produce faster, smoother, and fully optimized paths. 


Although cobots can work non-stop in principle, they still need supervision or human assistance. When associates leave the plant at night, industrial robot arms can continue working at full capacity but cobots cannot.


Cobots are not intended to replace associates; they work alongside them. The low cost, ease of use, and flexibility of cobots make them an attractive solution.

elliTek's Systems Group is here to help you find the right cobot or industrial arm that works best for your application. Here are a few tips on choosing the right robot. We're here to help, feel free to Call us!

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