Collaborative robot applications: Practical use of end effectors

Collaborative robot applications: Practical use of end effectors

The industrial world is once again going through a revolution made possible by small, affordable collaborative robots. Due to these lightweight and highly flexible collaborative robots - also known as cobots - the manufacturers can reap the benefits of collaborative automation and increase productivity at a lower cost.

Due to smarter, more adaptive robot arms and end effectors, automation is now set up at a fraction of the time it takes for traditional industrial robots. A wide range of tasks can now be accomplished thanks to the versatility and flexibility of the end effectors, maximizing return on investment.

What is a robotic end effector?

According to the Collins dictionary the term effector is used for a body part that becomes active in response to stimulation and “In robotics, an end effector is the device at the end of a robotic arm, designed to handle objects.”

The end effector (also known as end-of-arm tooling) sits at the end of the robot arm and moves only when a human operator activates it through the associated software.

A robotic end effector is the device that is mounted onto the end of a robot arm. The end effector is the part that reacts to stimuli and interacts with the environment. In other words, it is the end effector that picks and places objects, assembles product pieces, stacks cartons and parcels etc. A process cannot be automated and optimized without a robotic arm, but it is the end effector that enables the robot to perform its deeds.

Think of it as the robot arm being the equivalent of a human arm, with the robot end effector being the equivalent of a human hand. An arm can move, but it is no good without a hand. The same applies for robot arms and end effectors.

The choice of end effector depends on the task at hand - different end effectors are appropriate for different applications.

6 applications of end effectors

  1. Pick & Place
    Pick & place tasks are those where an object needs to be picked up and placed in a different location. This sort of task requires precision and the ability to safely handle the object no matter the material it is made from or how fragile it is.

    Which gripper type is the right for you depends on what you are trying to accomplish and what kind of objects need to be handled. Classic grippers have a large stroke and customizable fingertips, they can be used to sort materials according to shape, material and size. Grippers with the F/T sensors are used when the sensitivity of the human fingertips is needed reducing defect rate as much as 60% in delicate Pick & Place processes. Electric vacuum grippers are customizable and able to safely handle objects of various shapes and sizes, while the adhesive grippers enable gripping of flat, porous object with precise, no-mark technology.

  2. Machine Tending
    Machine tending tasks are typically those of overseeing a machine as it performs its task and loading and unloading machines, but can also include part inspection, blow off, wash, sorting and packaging.

    It is very common (especially in the metalworking industry) that the human workers feed various parts into the machine for processing. This manual process is dull and as it requires a high level of consistency over a long period of time, the risk of injury or product inconsistency is high. Using a cobot increases safety and product quality and decreases cycle times, while freeing the worker for higher level tasks. Also, as the cobot can be used 24/7, you can now take on bigger jobs

  3. Packaging & Palletizing
    Packaging and palletizing processes include precise, high-speed packaging assembly, product loading and pallet forming among others. This is a very demanding part of production as it requires the goods to be handled fast, but with the utmost of care (especially those items that are fragile).

    Automating packaging and palletizing can make the whole process simpler, faster and easier.  The human workers are spared lifting heavy objects or working in unergonomic positions that cause injuries.

    A collaborative packaging robot with a flexible end-of-arm tool attached can optimize packaging processes and relieve your workers of repetitive tasks.  When packing your products for shipping, it is very important that they are counted correctly and palletized according to safety standards.

    The flexibility and high speed of redeployment make cobots ideal for any sort of production as they are lightweight, easily moved and can be used sequentially in different points of the production process.

    Watch how Plus Pack automated packaging >>

  4. Assembly
    When we talk about assembly tasks, we mean the manufacturing process where the product is being built by adding parts one at a time in a precisely determined order.

    This often requires the cobot to handle objects of various size and shape. Sophisticated sensors and easy programming of tasks allow for the automatization of product assembly where objects of different material need to be manipulated. As an example, the cobot can interchangeably handle wooden, plastic or metal parts and adjust accordingly to consistently produce high quality products with next to zero defect.

  5. Quality Testing & Inspection
    When certain products are tested a consistent force needs to be applied on product after product. This sort of precision that requires the same tension and pressure is difficult to demand from the human workers but can be an easily programmable task for the cobot. Same goes for tedious product tests that require many sequential steps like for instance pushing each and every button on a product.

    Sophisticated torque/force sensors and flexible grippers make it possible to automatize product testing and ensure the high level of quality while handling the product with the utmost of care.
  6. Surface Finishing
    Surface finishing is a process that requires flexibility. It is one of the dirtier tasks in the production line which makes it perfect for automation.

    The surface finishing processes that a cobot can do effectively are sanding, polishing and buffing which can be performed on various material ranging from plastic, metal and wood to even marble and carbon fiber. Every surface is different, but no matter how small the variations a cobot can be programmed to achieve an even surface finish.

    Sometimes a particular polishing pattern needs to be used. These are easily programmed with the hand guiding functionality making deployment faster than ever.

Privacy Policy for processing and protecting personal data

This data protection policy applies to OnRobot.

The purpose of the policy is to ensure and document that OnRobot protects personal data in accordance with the rules for processing of personal data. The policy will also contribute to OnRobot providing information about its processing and use of registered personal data.

The policy will be reviewed each year.

Record of the processing of personal data

OnRobot processes personal data about:

  • Employees

  • Customers

  • Suppliers

  • Applicants

OnRobot has prepared a record of the processing of personal data. The record provides an overview of the processing for which OnRobot is responsible.

The personal data must be provided in order for OnRobot to enter into employment, customer and supplier contracts.

Purpose and lawfulness of the processing

Personal data are processed and archived in connection with:

  • HR management, including recruitment, hiring, dismissal and payment of salary

  • Master data for customers as well as orders and sales

  • Master data for suppliers as well as requisition forms and purchases

  • Contracts

Processing is legal by the authority specified in the appended record.

OnRobot does not use the personal data for purposes other than those listed. OnRobot does not collect more personal data than necessary to meet the purpose. 

Storage and erasure

OnRobot has introduced the following overall guidelines for storage and erasure of personal data:

  • Personal data are stored in physical folders.

  • Personal data are stored in IT systems and on server drives.

  • Personal data are not stored for longer than necessary to meet the purpose of the processing.

  • Personal data for employees are erased five years after employment has ended, and personal data about applicants are erased after six months.

Data security

Based on the appended risk assessment, OnRobot has implemented security measures to protect personal data:

  • Only employees with a work-related need to access the registered personal data have access to the data, either physically or via IT systems with rights management.

  • All computers are password protected and employees may not disclose their passwords to others.

  • Computers must have firewall and antivirus software installed, which must be updated regularly.

  • Personal data are erased securely in connection with phasing-out and repair of IT equipment.

  • USB flash drives, external hard disks, etc. containing personal data must be stored in a locked drawer or cabinet.

  • Physical folders are placed in a locked office or in locked cabinets.

  • Personal data in physical folders are erased by shredding.

  • All employees must be instructed in what to do with personal data and how to protect personal data.


Website and Cookie

  • The Personal Data Regulation allows you to treat personal data only legally for the purpose for which they have been collected. If you want to use data for purposes other than the original, you must always have the consent of the registrant.

  • Upon receipt of a business card from a customer you have his consent. If you write his information you need his signature on this paper to have a formal requirement for consent if you want to use his information. Then the customer allows OnRobot to use his data for purposes other than communication, upcoming promotions, product updates or further news including upcoming promotions, product updates and further news.

  • According to the Cookie Act, OnRobot must have the user’s consent to use this software on the user’s equipment. On The company’s intranet or similar closed group, the rules in the E-data protection directive do not apply.


Personal data about employees may be disclosed to public authorities such as the Danish Customs and Tax Administration and pension companies.


OnRobot only uses processors if they are able to provide the required guarantees that they will implement appropriate technical and organisational security measures to comply with personal data law. All processors must sign a processor agreement before processing commences.


OnRobot safeguards the rights of data subjects, including the right to access, withdrawal of consent, rectification and erasure and will inform the data subjects of OnRobot’s processing of personal data. Data subjects are also entitled to appeal to the Danish Data Protection Agency.

Personal data breach

In case of personal data breach, OnRobot will report the breach to the Danish Data Protection Agency as soon as possible and within 72 hours. The manager is responsible for this reporting taking place. The report will outline the breach, the groups of persons affected and the impact the breach may have on these persons and how OnRobot has remedied or intends to remedy the breach. If the breach entails a high risk for the persons about whom OnRobot processes personal data, OnRobot will also notify these persons. OnRobot s will document any personal data breach on an access-controlled drive.

Erasure of data

The customer should assess when personal data need to be erased by asking the question:

When is it no longer necessary to store the personal data?

OnRobot follows the practice of the Danish Data Protection Agency:

Applications Are erased after 6 months in connection with job interviews. Unsolicited applications are erased immediately.
Employee data Are erased 5 years after termination of employment.
CCTV surveillance Is erased after 30 days.
Telephone conversations Are erased immediately or after up to 3 months.
Accounting records Must be stored for 5 years from the end of the financial year.


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How to Grow your Business with Collaborative Applications
How to Grow your Business with Collaborative Applications
With the dawn of smarter, more adaptive tooling, robots can now function with greater speed, strength, safety and precision, accomplishing a wide range of tasks, while maximizing ROI. Learn more on how you can enable faster production at lower costs by downloading our free eBook.
How to Grow your Business with Collaborative Applications
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