Babo Arms, Taiwanese food and beverage stores, has introduced the UR5 cobot to its production process, including making tea, cleaning cups, sealing drinks, and handing drinks to customers. The UR5 cobot can be installed easily and deployed in a physical store or a temporary outdoor venue, making it a perfect fit for a pop-up store setting, a business model for festivals and the like.
Unmanned shops are not a new concept, but Babo Arms wanted to maintain customer intimacy while the production line becomes automated. In a traditional tea shop, there must be employees responsible for preparing ingredients, making drinks, handling the cash register, and delivering drinks and all of them must remember the ingredients of every drink served by the store. However, the low birth rate in Taiwan and the high turnover rate in the food and beverage industry have led to an urgent need for the industry to maintain a stable workforce and reduce the time spent on orientation training.
It took Babo Arms nearly two years to find a robot arm that can collaborate with humans safely, after testing numerous robot arms. The Universal Robots UR5 cobot adopted by Babo Arms mainly helps staff make tea and drinks. Human-robot collaboration not only addresses the problem of recruitment constantly faced by the food and beverage industry, employees no longer need to memorize dozens of ingredients. As a result, they can use their creativity on more value-added work such as product development, providing more innovative flavors and drinks ahead of competitors.
Subject to risk assessment, UR cobot can work collaboratively alongside humans, a great benefit for the food and beverage industry where stores are usually limited on space. Traditional automation equipment must be kept at a specific distance for safety purposes during operation and most of the equipment works in a closed space, taking up staff’s work space. In addition, unmanned stores have to sacrifice customer interactions. Adopting cobot does not mean replace manpower with robots. Instead, it enhances the value of human resources. Simple, mechanical, and low value-added tasks are now performed by the cobot which can rotate 360-degree, mimic the range of motion of a human arm, and move flexibly. With the right gripper, the cobot can carry out repetitive and programmed work near employees such as making tea, cleaning cups, tilting, grabbing, and handing out drinks. Employees can use the time saved to interact with customers, find out their purchase intentions and demand, and provide feedback, thereby improving the quality of services, realising the vision of the company.