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Cobots Continue To Gain Interest For Flexible Automation, Tipping The Market Over US$600 Million In 2021

Cobots Continue To Gain Interest For Flexible Automation, Tipping The Market Over US$600 Million In 2021

Despite the challenges facing the wider manufacturing industry during the coronavirus pandemic, collaborative robots continue to attract attention and investment, due to their ease of use, redeployability, and convenience to end-users who struggle to afford more traditional forms of automation.

According to a new report from global tech market advisory firm ABI Research, the cobot market is set to grow substantially over the coming decade. The market had a global valuation of US$475 million in 2020, which will expand to US$600 million in 2021 and US$8 billion in 2030, with a projected CAGR of 32.5 percent.

“The most direct benefit of cobots is not in their ability to collaborate with humans”, said Rian Whitton, Principal Analyst at ABI Research. “Rather, it is in their relative ease of use, improved interface, and the ability of end-users to redeploy them for different tasks”. This has made cobots popular with small and medium-sized enterprises (SME’s) which value flexibility and incremental automation where the maintenance cost is not prohibitive.

Universal Robots is currently the dominant player in the market, with 50 percent of the total shipments and posting US$219 revenue for 2020, but challengers like FANUC, ABB, and others are beginning to catch up after initially lagging in the space. They have done this by improving user interface and the usability of their systems

“The barriers between cobots and standard industrial robots are beginning to breakdown, as many vendors are experimenting with dual-mode robots that can have a cobot and industrial mode. What is more, cobots are beginning to develop heavier payloads, in line with evolving regulations” said Whitton. ABI Research projects that cobots are going to significantly expand the potential for automation for SMEs, while also enabling large vendors to develop a more flexible production line based on movable platforms and no need for fencing. The major industrial automation vendors will enjoy a greater share of the market as they utilise their existing partnerships and pour more resources into new cobot products.

 

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Cobots Lead The Future Of The Global Industrial Robots Market

Cobots Lead the Future Of The Global Industrial Robots Market

Frost & Sullivan’s recent analysis finds that the global industrial robotics market will reach revenues of $38.3 billion in 2024 from $22.2 billion in 2020 at a CAGR of 12.2 percent. Although the industry was curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty in the automotive business, rising demand from other high-growth sectors is expected to propel it over the next five years. Pharmaceuticals will be the fastest-growing segment, with a CAGR of 17.2 percent from 2019 to 2024, reaching $3.33 million by the end of the forecasted period, followed by food & beverage (F&B) and electrical and electronics, expanding at 15.8 percent and 15.1 percent, respectively.

Asia-Pacific continues to dominate the global industrial robotics market, and revenues are estimated to top $25.08 billion by 2024, with China, Japan and South Korea driving progress. The European region is the second most important, propelled by the automotive industry and Germany—the fifth-largest country globally for industrial robotics. North America’s ongoing trend of production automation and keeping all manufacturing operations in-house puts it in the third position, with forecasted revenues of $6.19 billion by 2024.

“The global battle against the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a strong use case for industrial robots, which helped assure business continuity,” said Nandini Natarajan, Industry Analyst, Frost & Sullivan. “While 2020 witnessed reduced investments in robotics, the demand for industrial robots will rise sharply from 2021 on. The introduction of low-cost robots and innovative business models such as Robots-as-a-Service (RaaS) are expected to drive demand from small and medium enterprises (SMEs).”

Natarajan added: “Collaborative robots (cobots) are experiencing rapid market growth thanks to their utility, ease of installation, and consistently decreasing price, making them an affordable and viable solution for a wide range of applications. It will be the fastest-growing segment by 2024, recording a CAGR of 32.8 percent (2019-2024) and reaching $1.78 million in global revenues. Advances in 5G and edge computing will be instrumental in equipping cobots with improved flexibility and easier implementation.”

For further opportunities, market participants should explore these strategic recommendations:

  • Embedded Vision and Machine Learning in Robotics: Embedded systems need to be lightweight, consume less energy, and be adaptable to be retrofitted/integrated with any robotic system. Manufacturers need to integrate advanced supportive technologies such as 3D perception and deep machine learning to enable new machine vision applications.
  • Smart Robot Grippers for Safe Collaboration with Human Workers: Robots have become more collaborative with human workforces instead of replacing them, as was the case before. Therefore, there is a need to design robot grippers that are more collaborative and safer. End-of-arm tooling (EOAT) providers will need to develop robot prototypes with advanced sensors that can detect human workers’ presence and movement.
  • 5G and Edge AI for Robotic Independence and Flexibility of Real-time Applications: While 5G will provide benefits such as low latency and on-the-go decision-making, edge-based AI will enable robots to carry out data processing on the machine without data traveling to and from the cloud. There will be a huge demand for secure local data processing closer to the robot.

 

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The Top 3 Applications Of Cobots

The Top 3 Applications Of Cobots

Automation has seen massive growth over the last decade where a variety of industries have unleashed the vast potential of robots. Amongst various implementations, collaborative robots (cobots) have seen an accelerating growth in adoption over the years even though they are relatively new.

According to Loup Ventures, cobots contributed to about three percent of robot sales in 2018, but are expected to increase significantly to 34 percent by 2025. Why?

Compared to the large and bulky industrial machines, cobots are designed to safely operate in close proximity to humans to complete tasks. Traditional industrial robots are often mammoth-sized machines that are static and difficult to repurpose and reprogram. By contrast, cobots are compact and flexible and can operate without safety cages or fencing directly alongside people (upon risk assessment), thereby reducing footprint and space usage.

Cobots can be deployed on a wide variety of tasks and are easily redeployed when there is a change in the tasks required.

Cobots, unlike humans, do not suffer from fatigue and can work 24/7/365, repeating each task in exactly the same way. Therefore, with none of the human errors caused by fatigue, cobots provide higher business productivity, efficiency, and product quality.

Most industrial robots offer a payback period that is too long to justify the investment. Whereas for cobots, the average payback period is as short as twelve months, making them more accessible to growing enterprises.

Cobots are highly flexible, allowing them to be reprogrammed for different tasks if manufacturing processes change, making them more investment-worthy.

What are the applications of cobots?

There are many collaborative robot applications across all industries.

Cobots, in general, are able to improve efficiency and safety of many industries by assuming dull, dirty, and dangerous work. These include assembly, dispensing, finishing, machine tending, material handling, welding, material removal, quality inspections, and more. The three common classes of cobot deployments are material handling, assembly and quality assurance, and material removal.

Material handling

In manufacturing, material handling refers to the movement, protection, storage and control of materials and products throughout manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, consumption, and disposal. This is often one of the most dangerous jobs in manufacturing as materials such as metals, plastics, and other substances can pose a great risk to human workers. Additionally, many material handling tasks are repetitive, which can give rise to repetitive strain injury and errors due to fatigue. Manufacturing plants that use robots see significantly fewer workplace injuries.

In JVC Electronics Indonesia (JEIN), workers were performing menial and repetitive tasks such as soldering, separating cut pieces of Printed Circuit Board (PCB), and attaching a glass display on the car stereo units. JEIN manufactures over 400,000 products each month to serve global customers and this requires a fast turnaround time with minimal defects, to consistently meet production targets. The adoption of UR3 cobots relieved workers from handling these repetitive and high risk tasks, which emit hazardous fumes and dust particles.

“One of the key features of the UR3 robot is its force control for adaptive safety; it senses external forces and stops immediately when a collision is detected. Our workers are able to work in close proximity with the cobots with no safety guarding after an initial risk assessment,” said Sukijan, Plant Supervisor at JEIN.

Assembly and quality assurance

Universal Robots’ cobots are specifically designed to work alongside human employees and relieve them from tedious and difficult assembly jobs. This includes welding small pieces together, drilling screws, and similar assembly tasks.

Cobots can also be used to assist with quality assurance during the production process. Unlike humans, cobots perform the same task the same way, every time, without growing tired or suffering any loss in performance. For example, cobots can place a vision device in the same location for as many measurements and positions on as many workpieces as needed – all without optical recalibration.

Blue Star Limited is a leading manufacturer of air conditioning and commercial refrigeration products in India. A vital task in the plant is the copper tube expansion, which was done manually. The repetitive task is mentally and physically stressful, and as a result the plant faced issues of quality rejection. This is a task which requires human intervention and heavy industrial robots may be unsafe. Blue Star needed a solution where robots and humans can work together to complete the task safely, and hence chose to work with cobots. The company increased their production by 10 percent and eradicated quality rejects, delivering their vision of high-quality products.

Material Removal

Other tasks that are also crucial to production can be handled by cobots. For example, material removal by robots is needed for any process that involves filling moulds. These cobots can assess the moulded piece and take care of trimming any excess metal or plastic without damaging the part or subjecting human workers to the risk of injury.

Meanwhile, cobots fitted with dispensing tools and hardware can be used to add glue or other adhesives, while cobots fitted with a sanding kit from the UR+ platform can be used to polish pieces for a bright, smooth finish.

Cobots are growing in presence and popularity mostly due to an increasingly budget-friendly price tag, easier programming which reduces implementation and training time, and safety qualities. With these factors in place, cobots are expected to be major contributors to the growth of manufacturing, assembly and other industries.

Article by James McKew, Regional Director Asia-Pacific, Universal Robots

 

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Teradyne Appoints New President Of Universal Robots

Teradyne Appoints New President Of Universal Robots

Teradyne, Inc. has announced that Kim Povlsen has been appointed President of Universal Robots. Povlsen, brings global executive leadership from a high-tech and commercial perspective and will lead Universal Robots’ next stage of growth and innovation. Kim begins his new role at Universal Robots on March 1, 2021.

“I am delighted to introduce Kim Povlsen as the new President of Universal Robots” said Greg Smith, President of Teradyne’s Industrial Automation Group, and acting President of Universal Robots.

“Kim combines a fantastic track record as a dynamic executive with a background in and a tremendous passion for robotics. With Kim on board, Universal Robots is poised to strengthen its leadership in the global market for collaborative robotics. With Kim’s leadership, we can accelerate the growth in new applications and market growth for cobots.”

Kim has held various executive business and technology leadership roles at Schneider Electric, a global energy management and automation company. Most recently, he served as Vice President, Strategy & Technology, responsible for the technology strategy and execution within a multi-billion dollar global organization. Kim lives in Aarhus, Denmark, and holds a master’s degree in Computer Science & Embedded Engineering from the University of Southern Denmark.

“I have been impressed with Universal Robots for some time” said Kim. “To me, the company represents the pinnacle of innovation and potential and I was thrilled to be approached for this unique leadership role. The company not only pioneered the category of collaborative robots, created an ecosystem of partner technology solutions and a vast global distribution network to serve customers in their varied industrial automation needs, it also has the potential to fundamentally reshape automation across the global economy. I really look forward to working with, learning from and being part of the great people at Universal Robots.”

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Universal Robots Reaches Industry Milestone With 50,000 Collaborative Robots Sold

Universal Robots Reaches Industry Milestone With 50,000 Collaborative Robots Sold

Collaborative robots – or cobots – remain the fastest growing segment of industrial automation, projected to grow during 2021 – 2026 at a CAGR of 45.45 percent in Asia Pacific. Cobot market pioneer Universal Robots (UR) solidified its frontrunner position today by selling the 50,000th UR cobot, which was purchased by a German manufacturer to enable higher productivity and better employee safety.

The 50,000th cobot came in a special delivery as Jürgen von Hollen, president of Universal Robots, personally handed over the cobot to VEMA technische Kunststoffteile GmbH and VEMA Werkzeug- und Formenbau GmbH located in Krauchenwies-Göggingen, Germany, at a ceremony held at VEMA.

“We have worked very hard in the past 15 years to develop an entirely new market segment with a mission to enable especially small- and medium sized companies to automate tasks they thought were too costly or complex,“ says von Hollen, emphasizing how UR has created a new global distribution network, a new ecosystem of developers, and ultimately a completely new business model. “As a pioneer in this market, we put a lot of work into creating awareness, influencing standards, and changing customers’ perceptions influenced by their experience of traditional robots.”

Von Hollen noted that VEMA GmbH is a great example of UR’s mission realised: “VEMA was looking for a cost-effective, flexible, easy-to-use automation solution they could implement, program and manage on their own. They found exactly that in the UR cobot.”

 

Cobots enhance both productivity and quality

VEMA’s new collaborative robot will join a fleet of three other UR cobots already deployed in pick and place tasks in end-of-line applications at the company.

Christian Veser, managing director at VEMA GmbH, is thrilled to be the recipient of the milestone cobot and explains how the cobots have enabled the company to add a third shift, now operating around the clock. “We have enhanced our productivity remarkably and also achieved better quality,” he says. “Our employees are freed from ergonomically straining work to focus on quality testing. In navigating Covid-19 challenges, it has also been a great advantage that the cobots don’t need to keep a safety distance or undergo quarantine. They can always work,” says Veser, adding that his company appreciates the cobots so much that they gave them names.

“The first three cobots are named Elfriede, Günther and Bruno. We will name our new cobot Jürgen to honor the fact that UR’s president came here in person to deliver it.”

“15 years ago, Universal Robots started with a vision of creating robots that are safe to work alongside human workers, and empowering people to get away from doing mundane, dirty, and dangerous jobs. Today, with the COVID-19 pandemic, collaborative robots have been rapidly adopted by both small and medium enterprises and large corporation around the world. During times that require a high level of flexibility and adaptability, cobots have become a sensible solution to maintaining factory footprint and promoting value creation for organisations like VEMA,” says James McKew, Regional Director of Asia-Pacific in Universal Robots.

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5 Reasons Why Cobots Are A Game-Changer For SME Manufacturers

5 Reasons Why Cobots Are A Game-Changer For SME Manufacturers

For small to mid-sized manufacturers, any gain in productivity can have a huge impact. Automation offers significant advantages, but many small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) believe that robotics is out of their reach. These organisations cannot afford large, complex robots that do not fit within their limited floor space. These complex robots require specialised personnel to program and maintain them, and that is simply too expensive, with a payback period that is too long to justify the investment.

A new generation of collaborative robots (or “cobots”) is changing the game for smaller manufacturers, helping them compete more effectively, offering new opportunities for employees, and even improving worker safety. Darrell Adams, Head of Southeast Asia & Oceania, Universal Robots, shares 5 essential requirements that will put robotics within SME’s reach.

  1. Quick set-up

Setting up a conventional industrial robot can take days or even weeks. These are the time and disruption that SMEs simply cannot afford. When ready to automate, manufacturers or any untrained operator need to be able to unpack the new robot, mount it, and begin programming simple tasks in a matter of hours. Collaborative robot arms, such as those from Universal Robots (UR), weigh as little as 11 kg, and can be set up in less than a day.

  1. Improving the small business culture

Most SMEs operates with 50 to 250 employees, having a shared sense of culture among the small group of employees is important for SMEs. Businesses run best when employees enjoy their assigned jobs, encouraging productivity and efficiency. Having cobots to automate the monotonous and strenuous tasks give employees more freedom to take on better and more exciting roles. SMEs need not worry about releasing these employees as no robots can replace human creativity and critical thinking. Instead, SMEs are elevating employees’ job titles by retraining employees to work alongside robots.

PT JVC Electronics Indonesia (JEIN), a global leader in electronic and entertainment products, deployed seven units of Universal Robots’ UR3 cobots to increase productivity and achieve consistent quality. The adoption of UR3 lessened the burden on workers to perform menial and repetitive tasks. JEIN witnessed an improvement in production efficiency and stable quality of output. With the move towards automation, employees can be redeployed to other processes and operational costs were reduced by more than USD 80,000 yearly. With cobots working alongside humans, it helps to humanise labour, establishing a better company culture.

  1. Collaborative and safe

Conventional industrial robots require a large, separate enclosure, which adds cost, takes up operational space, and reduces flexibility on the production floor. Management also has to be concerned with the safety risk if someone manages to get inside the enclosure while the robot is activated.

However, small manufacturers cannot afford to dedicate large areas to robotic operation. Today’s collaborative robots can work side-by-side with human workers in complementary operations. For example, the innovative force-sensing technology built into UR robots means the robot stops operating if it comes into contact with a human, and 80 per cent of the thousands of UR robots in operation worldwide work right beside human operators with no safety guarding (upon risk assessment).

4. Flexible deployment for multiple uses

Dedicated industrial robots can limit small and mid-sized manufacturers who often have small production batches and require fast change-overs. In contrast, new collaborative robots are lightweight, space-saving, and easy to redeploy to multiple locations without changing the production layout. With the ability to reuse programs for recurring tasks, they support agile manufacturing processes with minimal set-up time and effort.

  1. Fast payback of your investment

Of course, any automation investment for a small or mid-sized manufacturer must pay for itself as quickly as possible. Universal Robots gives SMEs all the advantages of advanced robotic automation, with none of the traditional added costs associated with robot programming, set up, and dedicated, shielded work cells. With an average payback period as short as twelve months, robotic automation is finally affordable for small and mid-sized manufacturers.

Universal Robots believes that collaborative technology can be used to benefit all aspects of task-based businesses, regardless of their size. The nominal investment costs can be quickly recovered, such benefits from the latest collaborative technology should be available to all businesses.

By: Darrell Adams, Head of Southeast Asia & Oceania, Universal Robots

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‘Silver’ Welders To Surf The Industrial 4.0 Wave With Collaborative Robots

‘Silver’ Welders to Surf the Industrial 4.0 Wave with Collaborative Robots

In industries facing a grave shortfall of skilled welders, collaborative robots, or cobots, can provide the much needed relief to keep up productivity and production, while retaining existing human workforce as well. By Darrell Adams, Universal Robots

There is a global labour shortage in the welding scene today. Business leaders are struggling to find skilled welders, while traditional industrial welding robots are expensive and challenging to adapt to transient and iterative production runs.

The average age of a welder in the United States today is about 55 years old, with fewer than 20 percent under the age of 35, and is slated to run into a deficit of 400,000 welders by 2024, according to a study by the American Welding Society.

And North America is not even the dominant market for welding. That crown goes to Asia Pacific, with a market size of US$7.04B in 2019, according to Fortune Business Insights, with a sizable demand from construction, automotive steel, and marine industries. Asia Pacific is likely to run into a deficit for skilled welders like America, with declining birth rates as the key culprit.

Already, countries such as Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea are facing this problem. For example, by 2060, 40 percent of Japanese population will be over the age of 65, according to a report by The Guardian, and their workforce will be unable to handle the nation’s industrial and economic demands. And that is where automation comes in, including welding.

Embracing Cobots to Retain Staff

Traditionally, robots and automation may be perceived to be a bane to human livelihoods. However, there is a class of robots, known as collaborative robots (cobots), that work nicely alongside humans.

In industries facing a grave shortfall of skilled welders, cobots can provide the much needed relief to keep up productivity and production, while retaining existing human workforce as well.

Unlike larger industrial robots, cobots are nimble and small, much more affordable compared to large industrial robots, and are easy to set up and operate. In the case of Universal Robots’ cobots, they are quick and easy to commission in-house for simple tasks without any expertise in robotics or programming. For more complex applications, Univeral Robots has a comprehensive network of Certified Systems Integrators and Authorised Training Centres that will help businesses get started so that human operators without prior programming experience or knowledge can handle day-to-day operations after the initial installation.

For example, the Vectis Cobot Welding Tool powered by Universal Robots’ UR10e cobot allows human operators to easily and safely design and deploy automated welding jobs. Welders can transition rather easily to become cobot-based welding operators.

“We wanted to build our cobot-based welder on this platform, providing a human-centric and welder-friendly operating ethos, that manufacturers in many other industry verticals enjoy,” says Josh Pawley, director of business development and co-founder of Vectis Automation.

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OnRobot Expo Gathers Manufacturers, Automation Experts And Industry Thought Leaders At Global Event On Collaborative Automation

OnRobot Expo Gathers Manufacturers, Automation Experts And Industry Thought Leaders At Global Event On Collaborative Automation

OnRobot has opened registration for ‘OnRobot Expo’ – a global, interactive digital robotics event focused on collaborative automation and applications. Held online on 3 December (9.30 am to 4.45 pm, Singapore time), the OnRobot Expo will feature keynotes from speakers including Camilo Buscaron, Amazon Web Service’s Head of Cloud Robotics Open Source Technology & Strategy, a panel discussion about collaborative automation with robotics investor and Shark Tank creator, Mark Cuban.

The OnRobot Expo will also include insights from James Taylor, OnRobot General Manager for Asia-Pacific, on collaborative automation’s potential to boost industries and the workforce in the region. The day will also feature a keynote address from Sue Keay, the CEO of Queensland AI Hub on automation trends in Australia. There will also be a session on collaborative applications from Ben Ong, Senior Sales Manager, Servo Dynamics, an industrial automation solutions provider for Asia.

The OnRobot Expo will provide visitors with 11 expert-led 30-minute presentations on a massive range of topics from lean manufacturing and human-robot collaboration, to an intelligent force sensor solution for collaborative applications and how manufacturers can break down barriers to vision system adoption.

The expo will also have rolling streams for Europe and the Americas on 2 December 2020.

How-To sessions on popular applications

Developed with a special focus on supporting small-to-medium size manufacturing companies, OnRobot Expo will deliver full demos of OnRobot’s expanding range of robotic components from grippers to polishing solutions with How-To Sessions, showing attendees how to implement and get the most out of their robotics investment. Special attention will be given to collaborative applications in metal and metalworking, packaging, food processing, plastics, pharmaceuticals and logistics.

“Manufacturers of all sizes are facing serious challenges in 2020 and, as a result, many are turning to collaborative applications to stay competitive and resilient,” says Enrico Krog Iversen, CEO of OnRobot.  “We created OnRobot Expo to help manufacturers learn about collaborative applications and automation from their manufacturing peers and thought leaders from business and academia.”

Unique learning opportunity

OnRobot Expo attendees will also have access to explore OnRobot’s robotic tools and components via a unique interactive digital universe created especially for the event.

“Collaborative applications enable companies to future-proof their business. The OnRobot Expo is a unique opportunity for manufacturers to meet with product experts and learn exactly how they could benefit from flexible and easy-to use automation solutions,” says Iversen.

Keynotes with actionable insights

In his keynote address on how Amazon develops, tests and deploys robots, Camilo Buscaron will discuss how the cloud simplifies the development and deployment of robotics applications. He will talk about the Robot Operating System (ROS) and AWS RoboMaker, a cloud service that helps customers build, simulate and manage robotic applications.

OnRobot Expo will also feature entrepreneur and robotics investor Mark Cuban in a pre-recorded panel discussion with OnRobot CEO, Enrico Krog Iversen and the CEO of Hirebotics, Rob Goldiez about the importance of collaborative applications in the future of manufacturing for small-to-medium size companies.

“OnRobot Expo will provide powerful, actionable insights for every visitor, whether you are an expert in industrial robotics that wants to optimise existing automation or you’re representing a small manufacturing company exploring collaborative automation for the first time,” says Iversen. “And on the business side, our great line-up of speakers will guide visitors through essential topics including return on investment, how to respond to fluctuating market demands and preparing for the future of manufacturing.”

 

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Collaborative Robots Open New Horizons In Quality Control Processes

Collaborative Robots Open New Horizons In Quality Control Processes

Today, with manufacturing in real need of flexible solutions, applications of the latest human and robot collaboration are highly demanded. By: Darrell Adams, Head of Southeast Asia & Oceania, Universal Robots

Across different sectors and regulatory environments, all manufacturers need to ensure consistency of product. Conducting inspections on business-critical systems ensures that the loss of quality and production stoppages are prevented. Collaborative robots (cobots) offer suitable solutions to manufacturers. Hence, cobot-based quality control and inspection systems that can transition between different end products in very little time has become very attractive.

Flexible operation with cobots

Manufacturers are constantly striving to meet the quality control demands of high-mix and low volume production runs. Easy to incorporate into existing production lines and a cinch to program, UR cobots are uniquely positioned to deliver results in fast-moving quality control environments. With the ability to shift from pick and place and handling roles to inspection tasks quickly, cobots are easily reconfigured to inspect new parts. This makes cobots the perfect technology for both future-proofing inspection processes and ensuring business continuity in difficult times. This operational flexibility extends to human-robot collaboration. Human-robot teams will improve the accuracy of quality control operations while human workers can be reassigned to more interesting tasks.

One of the world’s largest manufacturers of bathroom accessories and auto parts, Xiamen Runner Industrial Corporation in China, has installed 64 UR robots to upgrade the efficiency of the production process. Before deploying UR robots, most operations at Runner Corporation were manual with operator fatigue posing risks on both safety and product yield. The company was devoted to developing a highly efficient, flexible, and reliable production line. Ever since the deployment of UR robots, Runner Corporation has witnessed a sharp increase in its product yield while redeployment of staff positions effectively helped reduce the company’s employee turnover rate. The UR robots enabled automated production with unprecedented flexibility.

Improvement of quality and productivity on production lines

Meanwhile, Japan-based Koyo Electronics Industries, a member of the JTEKT Group who boasts the world’s top share in the automotive steering bearings, deployed UR robots to improve quality and productivity. The company has been consistently involved in the development, manufacturing, and sales of electronic equipment since its establishment in 1955, continuing to create products that surpass reliability and functionality standards. In the production of products that require strict quality, the challenge has become how to increase productivity according to an increase in demand.

As such, UR3 cobot was introduced in the touch panel quality inspection process. The cobot works with higher accuracy and stability as compared to human workers, this drives improvement in the quality of work. In fact, for in-vehicle products that require strict quality standards, productivity has also increased 31 percent due to the operational stability of the cobot. The experience from implementing UR cobots has built confidence and high hopes for future development within Koyo Electronics.

Easier quality control (QC) related cobot deployments

UR cobots are proven technologies for quality inspection applications and success stories like these abound. With the launch of the new UR+ Application Kit platform, designed to help manufacturers streamline cobot deployments by providing proven software and hardware for the most popular cobot applications, QC-related cobot deployments are made easier with the addition of kits such as the Q-Span Workstation Kit. The Workstation is a flexible solution for quality control measurement inspection developed by UR partners at New Scale Robotics. The system’s measurement resolution of 2.5 µm (0.0001 inches) enables manufacturers to improve precision, consistency, yield, and quality in small-part measurement.

As customer expectations and demand increases, manufacturers aim to maintain quality standards and focus on delivering products efficiently without sacrificing quality. Whether manufacturers are looking for a way to ensure business continuity or shifting production to new products with different inspection requirements, cobots are ready to help make automated quality control processes easier to deploy and more efficient than ever.

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Automation Trends In Metalworking

Automation Trends in Metalworking

Metalworking has traditionally been slower than other sectors in its uptake of automation technologies. John Young, APAC director at automation parts supplier, EU Automation, looks at three key areas where current and future trends suggest metalworking is increasingly ready to shake off this reputation.

Automation and 3D printing

Not so long ago, 3D printing was mostly associated with rapid prototyping. In more recent years we have seen significant investment in additive manufacturing in the metalworking industry, driven by the demands of the defence and aerospace sectors.

This trend is set to increase. As was reported in last month’s edition of APMEN, recent research has estimated that the global market for 3D printing in metalworking is set to reach $5.51 billion by 2027. With a predicted CAGR of 31.7 percent, the Asia Pacific region can anticipate higher growth rates than any other region in the world.

The pros and cons of this disruptive innovation are relative to the application at hand, but as the technology constantly improves, its benefits are increasing. The advantages include the ability to manufacture more complex and lightweight parts and offer the design flexibility that is necessary to compete in today’s highly competitive markets. 

The drawbacks include the high costs and lower surface quality. However, the cost barrier is being lowered and combining both additive and subtractive machining, sometimes known as hybrid manufacturing, can help manufacturers exploit the unique benefits of 3D printing and CNC machining. We can already see the development of hybrid machines that combine these two contrasting processes into a single footprint. 

3D printing or additive manufacturing (AM) is itself a form of automation. If we are talking about automation in AM though, we typically mean something more. Experts in this area are now focused on the integration of 3D printers into fully automated production lines with the assistance of the latest AM hardware and software.

A common trend is for the automation of post-processing functions and systems such as powder removal, part finishing and part cleaning. Automating these parts of the production process is allowing some manufacturers to achieve higher levels of productivity and repeatability. 

If advocates of greater automation in 3D printing are correct, it is automation that will lead to a higher rate of adoption of AM across the metalworking industry. More automation, it is argued, will bring down the cost per part and lower the reliance on manual labour, making AM a more competitive mode of manufacturing to more companies in the metalworking industry.

Robots and Cobots

The metalworking industry is witnessing the increasing use of robots as the cost of the technology gradually diminishes and as manufacturers begin to see automation as a solution to skills shortages. The adoption curve is notably higher for cobots. In contrast to larger industrial robots that are built to act autonomously and are typically housed behind safety cages, cobots are designed to operate safely alongside human workers.

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