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Industrial Robots VS Cobots—Which Is Right For You?

Industrial Robots VS Cobots—Which Is Right For You?

Industrial robots have offered benefits to many organisations ever since it was first introduced, but collaborative robots (cobots) have been a game-changing force recently. Article by Darrell Adams, Head of Southeast Asia & Oceania, Universal Robots.

Cobots made automation accessible and affordable for many organisations for whom traditional robotics were out of reach. But automating appropriately means evaluating your specific situation to make the best choice. The industry is changing rapidly, and new robotic capabilities are blurring the lines between collaborative and industrial robots. Now, manufacturers must determine whether an industrial robot or cobot is best suited for the job.

Robots and cobots: The key differences

The simplest way to understand how cobots and industrial robots differ is that cobots are designed to work alongside human employees, while industrial robots do work in place of those employees. A cobot can assist employees with work that may be too dangerous, strenuous, or tedious for them to accomplish on their own, creating a safer, more efficient workplace without eliminating factory jobs involved in the actual fabrication of a product. By contrast, industrial robots are used to automate the manufacturing process almost entirely without human help on the manufacturing floor. This, in turn, frees up employees for more meaningful tasks that are less mundane and are less prone to repetitive motion injuries.

Cobots are also easily programmable as compared to industrial robots because of cobots “learning” capability on the job. A factory worker can re-program a cobot simply by moving the arm along the desired trajectory. From there, the cobot will “remember” the new movement and be able to repeat it on its own. Industrial robots cannot be so easily reprogrammed and require a programmer to write new code for any changes in the process to be implemented.

Industrial robots can handle heavier, larger materials like those used in automotive manufacturing, but also require safety cages to keep humans out of the workspace. However, cobots are designed to work in close proximity to humans, they are safe enough to function around people and do not require the same kinds of safety infrastructure industrial robots do (upon risk assessment).

Common Manufacturing Industry Misconceptions

Robots have a lot going for them in terms of reducing safety risks to employees, improving efficiency, and cutting overhead costs, but unfortunately, there are several misunderstandings about the best solution to incorporate robotics. For example, purchasers occasionally expect their cobots to replace low-skilled factory workers entirely or take on heavy manufacturing tasks best suited for an industrial robot. Cobots are specifically designed to work in conjunction with human workers and perform best as a minimally disruptive solution to safety concerns and efficiency inhibitors. Cobots have so much greater potential to revolutionise manufacturing when implemented correctly.

Another area that brings confusion is in regard to customisation options and costs. Cobots and industrial robots can both be customised, but due to their size and differences in capacity and application, one should not expect the cost or engineering required for both machines to be analogous. Some cobot brands have customisable pre-engineered designs that reduce the cost and time necessary for tailoring an automated solution to the application, however, some operations will inevitably benefit more from greater levels of customisation. Industrial robots are also available in both custom and standard models depending on the application, and these larger and more complex robots have a proportionate cost associated with them. Cost and the necessary engineering involved is entirely dependent on the needs of the customer, and being open to a wide array of solutions is the best approach to robotics.

Robotics is a considerable investment for businesses. There are arguments for both industrial robots and cobots. Although the truth is that there is a steady shift from robots to cobots, but both machines remain significant in different factory floors. Manufacturers need to understand the differences between both machines and select one based on their application needs. There is space on the market for both robots and cobots but the power lies in one’s requirement.

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5 Reasons Why You Need Collaborative Automation For Today’s World

5 Reasons Why You Need Collaborative Automation For Today’s World

The benefits of collaborative automation are undisputed – more profitability, productivity, flexibility, higher quality and even more employee satisfaction. Given the current economic landscape, manufacturers need these advantages now more than ever. Collaborative robots (cobots) are a proven, valuable and accessible solution for manufacturers of any size. The following are the reasons why one should increase automation in their factory.

  1. Cobots ease labour shortages

The top challenge manufacturers face is the gap between the demand and availability of workers. Unfortunately, the labour shortages will only get worse in the coming years. Research from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute found that over the next 10 years starting from 2020, manufacturers will need to add approximately 4.6 million manufacturing jobs – 2.4 of which may go unfilled.

Cobots can help ease the burden by filling the labour gaps. Cobots can be programmed, operated and maintained by existing employees, regardless of the team’s previous robotics or automation experience. By providing manufacturers with an easy way to automate the dirty, dangerous, dull and repetitive jobs, organisations can shift existing employees to new and more valuable roles, which increases employee satisfaction and builds morale and loyalty. Extensive automation can ease recruitment and retention by creating new technical roles with better pay, opportunities and working conditions.

  1. Accessible and flexible

Unlike costly industrial robots, cobots are affordable, versatile and easy to integrate into work processes without the need for major renovations or costly installation projects. Cobots can make companies of any size – and in any location – competitive by providing the flexibility they need to compete, grow and profit in any economic climate. Collaborative automation equips organisations to easily to scale up or down, increase productivity in warehouses and expand into new markets more quickly.

  1. Financial competitive advantage

In addition to labour shortages, today’s manufacturers face intense economic and political uncertainty. Adding to the complexity, today’s consumers increasingly demand higher quality products and real-time availability – at lower costs. These pressures make running a profitable production line more challenging than ever before.

Financially, collaborative automation has a direct impact on profits. Further, cobots play an important role in improving product quality by reducing human error commonly associated with dull, repetitive and dangerous tasks, ensuring consistency and accuracy, and enhancing the ability to create more complex goods – which satisfies customer demand for higher-quality goods at lower costs. At the same time, with the right configuration, a cobot can produce finished goods at a much faster rate than handcrafting or assembly lines.

  1. An affordable option

Few would argue with the benefits of collaborative automation. A small and mid-sized manufacturer might have doubts to afford a solution with all the pressures facing in their factory and the looming economic uncertainty.

UR Financial Services offers a fast and low-risk model to maximise productivity, profitability and ROI without a significant cash outlay. Through a partnership with DLL, we offer flexible payment plans that accommodate cash flow, seasonal fluctuations and shifts in capacity, so you can focus on growing and running your business. This programme provides the ultimate financial flexibility.

  1. Financially supported by Government in Singapore

Singapore companies especially SMEs who have a tight budget and cash flows can grow their businesses and solidify their foundations with the EDG grant in Singapore. The Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) supports companies’ usage of automation and technology which results in tangible benefits and significant growth.

While it is difficult to predict the future, it is plausible that this is just the start of the process for collaborative robots. In the long run, with a rapid increase in automation capabilities, cobots will become the powerful workhorses of the factory. This is the perfect time to deploy cobots in your industry and stay ahead of competitors

Article by Darrell Adams, Head of Southeast Asia & Oceania, Universal Robots

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Industry 5.0: The Future Of Manufacturing In 2035

Industry 5.0: The Future Of Manufacturing In 2035

The Factory of 2035 will look vastly different than the factory of today. Ever since the first Industrial Revolution when mechanisation, water, and steam power started to automate work previously carried out manually, more work has been taken on by machines. Each technological advancement – from computers and robotics to the Internet – has brought about additional automation. Advancement in technologies will remain significant, but the trend of “human touch” will also be in demand in Factory of 2035.

People, machines and fear

Today, internet-enabled “Industry 4.0” – including the robots that form a growing part of its connected technologies – has given rise to new fears that technology is replacing human workers. Representing Industry 4.0 as they do, robots are also bearing the brunt of the latest “technology is replacing us” myths. People have misconceptions that automation technologies and robots threaten people’s livelihoods. Automation does not replace jobs, in fact, it creates new jobs.

According to a recent Harvard Business Review article on automated tasks, 20 percent and 80 percent of a given job can involve automatable tasks, but no jobs are 100 percent automatable. This means that even with all the advancements, robots will not replace humans entirely. The fact is that robots help to increase productivity and companies are in the position to employ more people. Hence, robots will create jobs instead of eliminating them.

A new type of factory

The promise of the latest industrial revolution, Industry 4.0, is not just complete factory automation. Manufacturers move towards “light out factory” setups where they can produce goods people demand quickly, with consistently high quality, at unprecedented low cost, and with little human intervention. However, when the ‘lights out factory’ has started to gain traction in actual manufacturing setups, different global consumer trend has emerged – The return of human touch in Industry 5.0.

Mass demand for the human touch, or what is often described as “mass personalisation,” will never be met by large scale lights-out type manufacturing nor by traditional craftspeople working in their own small shops. Today, people want to experience the human touch in mass-manufactured goods. The type of factory needed to produce such goods at a scale and cost that makes production economically feasible will depend on technology. It is not the technology operating without human involvement in a lights-out factory. It will be the technology that collaborates with workers and, where the human touch is involved, serves as a tool that enables the workers to contribute the value they add to the product.

A new type of worker

The workers who will be needed in these new setups are workers who have particular value to add to the product. They must have expertise in an area that is required to give the product the degree of human touch the market demands of it. They may practice a craft or use a discerning eye or other senses to assess work and make adjustments. They may have a special understanding of materials and manufacturing processes. They may be experts in the practice of creativity. What will not be needed are workers who spend their days performing boring, repetitive tasks, or dangerous work. Robots and other machinery can and will do this work better. The days of the old-school line worker will be over.

The factory job in 2035

In 2035, Industry 4.0 and lights-out factories will be a vital part of product manufacturing. The world needs millions of products that do not require any human touch in order to be valuable. There will also be many more Industry 5.0 factories in 2035, and these factories will employ workers, with uniquely human skills. Requiring uniquely human talents like creativity, artistry, materials and process understanding, discerning tastes, understanding of various customs, and complex judgement, these jobs will be nothing like the factory jobs we think of today. It will be jobs that defy the definition of work as “doing things I don’t like to do”, instead, people will love their jobs. These jobs and trends will help humanise labour and make the world a better place to work.

In the current global age, Industry 4.0 is a marriage of IT and manufacturing operations. We have seen the maturation of digital technologies in the manufacturing industry. The smart factories of 2035 will accommodate the new collaborative model. The collaboration between man and machines, in which robots do the strenuous and repetitive work while humans act as the “creative architects”. Human creativity and smart technologies will become a decisive force in 2035.

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

 

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Collaborative Robots And The 4 Cardinal Questions For Successful Adoption

Collaborative Robots And The 4 Cardinal Questions For Successful Adoption

Cobots can be a game changer for companies, especially for those preparing for the next phase of growth when the economy recovers. Here are four key questions when considering where cobots can be put to work in your facility. Article by Darrell Adams, Universal Robots.

According to ASEAN Key Figures 2019 by the ASEAN Secretariat, manufacturing by foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow was 35.6 percent and contributed 36.6 percent to the region’s GDP. While manufacturing remain a key contributor to many of ASEAN’s member nations, there is an impetus to move up the manufacturing food chain for higher value manufacturing. High value manufacturing demand more investments, not only in automation and digitalisation, but also in skilled labour. All these investments are draining on small, medium and even larger sized manufacturers in this region due to cashflow. The manufacturing hub of ASEAN is also eroded by LATAM (Latin America) and the rising South Asia and Africa. 

Small and mid-sized manufacturers can be especially hard hit by sudden changes such as economic volatility, intense competitive pressure, seasonal demands or even an unexpected global crisis, like the current COVID-19 pandemic. When labour requirements increase or decrease drastically, having the ability to ramp up production when demand is high and remain sustainable during downtime is crucial.

For these companies, having a workforce supported by collaborative robots or cobots, would be a dream come true.

Cobots are the best assistants in the Industry 4.0 wave

Cobots are part of the Industry 4.0 revolution we are deeply entrenched now. With the notion of Industry 4.0, we are now experiencing the emergence of what some practitioners and researchers term “operator 4.0”. This means that with an advanced technological revolution in manufacturing, human operators must also rise up to meet the exacting demands of such an advanced manufacturing paradigm. With industrial robots and cobots, human operators need to be able to program such machines, and work with them.

Made to be affordable and easy to program even for small batch production runs, cobots today are smart and agile tools for small medium and large companies to quickly adapt to fast changing economic situations and labour demands.

Unlike traditional robot automation which requires difficult programming, long set-up time, and takes up valuable space, cobots can be easily programmed by workers in the production line for simple tasks without expertise in robotics or programming. For more complex applications, certified system integrators and authorised training centres will guide the team through the initial installation, and workers handle the day-to-day operation afterwards. Cobots are also safe to be placed next to humans without the need for much space or a cage. A risk assessment by experts will be made prior to deploying without fencing, to ensure the placement complies with safety standards.

Cobots can be a game changer for companies, especially for those preparing for the next phase of growth when the economy recovers. And cobots are symbiotic with human operators and do NOT replace them. This means that cobots will not replace humans, but supplement and assist them. Cobots have even made themselves into integrative and assistive technologies for surgeons in operating rooms.

However, most small and mid-sized manufacturers, do not have an army of automation engineers to manage this process, hence what I hear most often is “How can I get started?” Each company is, of course, different, but there are some key questions that manufacturers can ask themselves when considering where cobots can be put to work.

  1. Which employees are not smiling due to menial and repetitive tasks?

If a person’s expression or body language reflects boredom, frustration or apathy, it is a good bet that you are not taking advantage of the full potential they have to add real value to your process.

PT JVC Electronics Indonesia (JEIN) is part of the JVCKENWOOD Group, a global leader in electronic and entertainment products. JEIN manufactures over 400,000 products each month to serve global customers. Turnaround time (time taken for a product to be produced) needs to be fast, with minimal defects, to consistently meet this production target. 

When JEIN added seven units of Universal Robots’ UR3 cobots to increase productivity and achieve consistent output quality, it proved to be a game changing move.

The adoption of cobots lessened the burden on workers to perform menial and repetitive tasks, including separating cut pieces of a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) and attaching a glass display on the car stereo units. The cobots also stabilised takt time, the cycle time of a specific process, while reducing the time per task by half.

“Through the adoption of cobots, we were able to improve production efficiency and our output quality is now more stable. With the move towards automation, our manpower can be redeployed to other processes. We have been able to reduce operational costs by more than USD 80,000 yearly,” said Agustinus Simanullang, General Manager, Engineering Division at JEIN.

  1. What tasks are clearly too simple for people to be wasted on?

Think things like putting parts into a box, transferring parts from one line to another, inserting screws, or loading and unloading of a rotary indexing table. If a cobot can do it, why wouldn’t you give the person something more valuable to do?

In Taiwan, with the help of Universal Robots cobots, BTC Mold, an injection moulding company saved over 35 percent of labour cost, solved a serious manpower shortage, and significantly reduced the risk of occupational hazard in the factory. Instead of repeatedly bending down to pack the finished products, causing employees to develop pain in their joints and waists over time, the cobots help do away with these repetitive tasks, and reduced the employees’ risks of occupational hazard caused by extensive period of hard labour.

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Impact Of COVID-19 And How The Crisis Is Shaping Universal Robots

Impact of COVID-19 And How The Crisis Is Shaping Universal Robots

In this Q&A, Martin Kjærbo, Universal Robot’s (UR) VP of Operations and Supply Chain, discusses how Universal Robots as a manufacturer is handling the COVID-19 pandemic, what the new challenges are, and how the crisis will shape Universal Robots going forward.

Martin Kjærbo

What are the changes in the way UR operations are run after the pandemic?

We started to closely follow the developments in China in early January and began to prepare for the spread of the virus to possibly impact the rest of the world markets we operate in. When stay-at-home orders emerged in numerous countries, we were prepared to adapt quickly.

Right now, all of our employees not directly involved in the physical production of our robots work from home. This means all admin, sales, management and R&D groups work remotely and stay in contact during daily, online meetings—this is the case both at our headquarters in Denmark and at our 27 offices around the world.

Many of our R&D engineers have been able to set up labs in their own garages. We sent robots home with them and it’s a setup that has actually worked surprisingly well, especially since they are also able to use and collaborate through some of the UR+ simulation software tools available. It has been a great experience to see just how quickly employees have adjusted.

Engineers at Universal Robots have been able to take the UR cobots home with them to continue research and development remotely

How has your supply chain been impacted and what have you done to mitigate this?

The COVID-19 outbreak has caused a major shakeup, no doubt about it. This is a time when the robustness of our supply chain is seriously challenged. Fortunately, we already had a dual-source supply chain in place, which meant that when China started shutting down, we weren’t as vulnerable and had options to get the same parts elsewhere. With China now opening back up and much of Europe still shut down, we’re seeing that same dual-sourcing strategy work the other way around. As a result, we have not had any disruptions to operations and our production capacity remains intact. Getting to this point, redirecting the supply chain, has definitely taken an unfathomable amount of agility and due diligence.

We are constantly trying to look further ahead now, getting purchase orders out for raw material earlier, and closely examining not just our own suppliers but also taking a look at their second-, third- and fourth-tier suppliers to make sure they can deliver as well. As a result, we have not had to re-engineer any of our robot models

Did you have to restructure your production line to minimise contagion risks?

On our production lines in Denmark, where all manufacturing of our robots is carried out, we have changed from one- to two-shift operation to physically spread our workforce out more. We adhere to the recommended two-meter (six feet) distancing regulations in between people, and have added hand sanitation stations basically everywhere you look. All staff members also wear gloves on the production lines. Wearing face masks is not part of the official recommendations in Denmark at this point, but should this become necessary, we do have masks ready to dispense.

Spreading the workforce out over two shifts also means less people in the cafeteria at the same time. At headquarters, we ask production staff to break in small groups, all meals are pre-plated with disposable cutlery, the buffet is gone to avoid cross-contamination. To underscore the social distancing during breaks as well, we removed half of the chairs in the cafeteria.

How do you communicate necessary production changes to your workforce, and how are they handling it?

We have had an amazing reaction from our employees; there’s definitely a heightened sense that we’re all in this together. There’s been an incredible amount of helpfulness, they all want to see our company through this. Many of the production adjustments have come directly from employees, suggesting how we can do this work task more efficiently, how do we clean this item, new ways to meet regulations, etc.

Going to a two-shift operation went very smoothly. Many of our employees who now have their children at home during the day welcomed working at night so they are able to spend more of the daytime hours with their kids.

Are you relying more on automation now than before?

We take our own medicine, so to say. On our assembly line, we have UR cobots assembling UR cobots. In a time like this, we of course closely examine each and every production task to see where we can alleviate employees and have the cobots take over even more tasks, adding even more automation on the line. That’s an ongoing process that has been accelerated by the pandemic. I think a lot of our customers are currently going through those same progressions, as they start realising how cobots can help free up personnel

Adding cobots to a production line has long helped many UR customers address labor shortages, essentially by spreading out employees and have them collaborate with cobots as seen here at SHAD in Spain where cobots work in tandem with operators in the assembly of motorcycle accessories.

How do you make sure your products reach the end customers on time?

Before the borders started shutting down, we began shipping our finished goods stock out to warehouses in the U.S., Malaysia, China and the Netherlands, as we anticipated the shutdown to impact freight as well. This has fortunately not happened to the extent that we feared, but there’s been quite a few logistics headaches as flights canceled. We recently had a large order on a flight out of Copenhagen cancel that we transported to Stockholm by truck and then were able to get on a plane out of there instead. There are issues like this that we constantly have to maneuver, but so far, we have not had any delays in getting the robots out to customers on time.

At our Danish headquarters, we keep the robots in two different warehouses, so in case there’s a coronavirus outbreak from one warehouse, we can ship from the other. This has fortunately not happened.

How do you think this crisis will shape your company going forward? What are some of the lessons learned?

I think one of the most significant lessons is the importance of dual-sourcing your supply chain and staying in very close contact with each and every supplier. I cannot emphasise this enough. We have an availability forecast on every single part number, we know our weak parts and make sure there are always back-up plans in place to secure those.

Will the way you operate your business change in the long term as well?

I think we will emerge from this forever changed. On the bright side, this has been a big wake-up call that has spurred an amazing amount of production adaptability and increased focus on securing healthy work environments. Our new sanitation stations are not going anywhere, even when the virus subsides.

On the other hand, it saddens me that the interpersonal relations will most likely not go back to the way we used to interact: the handshake, the friendly hug. I’m not sure when we will be able to communicate that way again and that saddens me. Hopefully one day, this will be possible again.

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Universal Robots Declares “National Cobot Awareness Month” In January

Universal Robots Declares “National Cobot Awareness Month” In January

Universal Robots has declared January to be “National Cobot Awareness Month”, prompting manufacturers to discover cobots as the solution to hiring woes and productivity goals—all with a jump-start on return of investment before year-end.

Collaborative robots are now the fastest-growing segment of industrial automation, with the yearly revenue for cobot arms expected to reach $11.8 billion by 2030, up from $1.9 billion in 2018 according to newly released analysis from ABI Research.

January is traditionally a month for new hope and new energy to meet life and business goals. But for manufacturers facing a new year with the lowest unemployment rate in more than five decades, it can be a tough time to expect workers to come back with enthusiasm from holiday celebrations to dull and menial tasks. That makes January an ideal time for National Cobot Awareness Month, says Stu Shepherd, regional sales director of Universal Robots (UR) Americas division.

“It’s been more than 10 years since Universal Robots sold the world’s first commercially viable collaborative robot, but the cobot market is still largely untapped. By making January National Cobot Awareness Month, we want to send a signal to manufacturers that cobots are here to solve the monotonous tasks they simply can’t staff. With an average payback period of only six to eight months due to increased productivity, quality, and consistency, they can make their investment back and then some before year end if they start now,” said Shepherd.

While cobots’ built-in safety systems that allow them to work side-by-side with employees was the defining feature of collaborative robots, UR has expanded that definition to include user-friendliness, simple set-up, flexibility for easy re-deployment, and affordability. Today, UR cobots allow employees to move from repetitive, low-value tasks to higher-value activities that increase productivity and quality as well as work conditions.

 

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Universal Robots Future-Proofs Production Processes In Southeast Asia With Collaborative Robots

Universal Robots Future-Proofs Production Processes In Southeast Asia With Collaborative Robots

Universal Robots (UR) has helped Vietnam-based Vinacomin Motor Industry Joint Stock Company (VMIC) – a subsidiary of the Vinacomin Group,  future-proof its production processes with cobots. VMIC, one of the first state-owned manufacturers to deploy cobots, has seen productivity increase two to three times, with improved product quality, leading to a 50 to 60 percent rise in orders.

VMIC deployed two UR10 cobots to undertake
two tasks; pick and place and machine tending

Mr Darrell Adams, Head of Southeast Asia & Oceania, Universal Robots said, “Cobots continue to offer businesses in Southeast Asia vast benefits to transform their manufacturing processes and remain competitive. VMIC is exemplary of this, automating its once heavily-reliant manual processes and now boasting high productivity and better output quality.

“UR is at the forefront of cobot technology, helping businesses like VMIC accelerate the transition to smarter production and sustainable growth. We are seeing greater cobot technology adoption in the region as companies realise the immense potential of automation. Beyond the mining industry, cobots are deployed in sectors such as automotive, electronics, textile, pharmaceuticals, footwear and food processing industries,” he added.

Growing Adoption Of Robotics In Southeast Asia

Robot adoption is increasing in the region. According to the International Federation of Robotics, Asia is the largest industrial robot market, with over 280,000 units installed last year. While Southeast Asia makes up a small share of that total, the region has steadily seen an increase in installed robots annually.  Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia are ranked among the 30 largest markets in 2018 with a total of 87,100 operational robots. The electronics and automotive industries remain the largest robot users in the region.

Singapore claimed the highest robot density globally in 2018 with 831 robots per 10,000 workers, followed by Malaysia and Thailand with 52 and 51 units each. Digitalisation and greater automation in industrial production is expected to drive robot installations. Countries such as Malaysia and Thailand are expected to see an average annual growth rate of five to 15 percent from 2020 to 2022. The automation and control market in Vietnam is estimated to be worth US$184.5million by 2021 according to Frost and Sullivan.

UR10 Cobots Implemented At VMIC

Manual processes dominated work at VMIC, which manufactures parts for mining vehicles. This reliance on physical labour resulted in low productivity and inconsistent quality. Customer numbers and orders were low, affecting workers’ income. Realising that it was imperative to embrace automation, the company deployed two UR10 cobots to undertake two tasks; pick and place and machine tending.

VMIC reached out to local automation systems integrator Vnstar Automation JSC (Vnstar) – a partner of Servo Dynamics Engineering (Servo), a UR distributor in Vietnam – to automate its processes.

 

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Universal Robots Launches Heavy-Duty Payload Cobot For Collaborative Automation

Universal Robots Launches Heavy-Duty Payload Cobot For Collaborative Automation

Universal Robots (UR) has announced the immediate availability of the UR16e which boasts an impressive 16 kg payload capability.

UR16e combines the high payload with an arm reach of 900 mm and has a pose repeatability, the ability to precisely reproduce the same desired poses or positions, on repeat, of +/- 0.05 mm. This makes it ideal for automating tasks such as heavy-duty material handling, heavy-part handling, and machine tending.

“In today’s uncertain economic climate manufacturers need to look at flexible solutions to stay competitive,” said Jürgen von Hollen, President of Universal Robots. “With UR16e, we meet the need for a collaborative robot that can tackle heavy-duty tasks reliably and efficiently. This launch significantly expands the versatility of our product portfolio and gives manufacturers even more ways to improve performance, overcome labor challenges, and grow their business.”

Developed on UR’s innovative e-Series platform, the UR16e offers immense benefits, capabilities and value for manufacturers, including:

  • Fast and frictionless deployment with easy programming and a small footprint

UR16e makes accelerating automation easy and fast. Programming and integration is simple – regardless of the user’s experience or knowledge base. Like all UR’s cobots, UR16e can be unpacked, mounted and programmed to perform a task within less then an hour. With a small footprint and 900 mm reach, UR16e easily integrates into any production environment without disruption.

  • Addresses ergonomic challenges while lowering cost

With 16 kg payload, UR16e eliminates the ergonomic and productivity challenges associated with lifting and moving heavy parts and products, lowering costs, and reducing downtime.

  • Ideal for heavy-duty material handling and machine tending

Rugged and reliable, UR16e is ideal for automating high-payload and CNC machine tending applications, including multi-part handling, without compromising on precision.

“At Universal Robots we continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible with collaborative automation,” continued von Hollen. “Today, we’re making it easier than ever for every manufacturer to capitalise on the power of automation by bringing a cobot to market that is built to do more as it delivers more payload than our other cobots.”

Like with UR’s other e-Series cobots; UR3e, UR5e and UR10e, the UR16e includes built-in force sensing, 17 configurable safety functions, including customisable stopping time and stopping distance, and an intuitive programming flow. UR16e meets the most demanding compliance regulations and safety standards for unobstructed human-robot collaboration, including EN ISO 13849-1, PLd, Category 3, and full EN ISO 10218-1.

 

Southeast Asia is Embracing Robot Adoption

Southeast Asian countries significantly outperform the rest of the world in robot adoption while Europe and the United States (US) lag behind according to the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation[2]. Singapore is the region’s frontrunner and has the second highest robot density globally with 658 robots per 10,000 workers, followed by Thailand and Malaysia with 48 and 45 units each.

Cobots, the fastest growing industrial automation segment, are deployed in the electronics, semiconductor, metal and machining, food and beverage and pharma industries in the region.

They are also increasingly deployed in non-traditional industries such as hospitality and medical. In Singapore, UR cobots are programmed for all kinds of tasks, from manufacturing, to preparing bowls of laksa curry noodles[3], to assisting in massages[4]. In Vietnam and Thailand, robots are also used in hospitals to assist in surgeries[5][6].

James McKew, Regional Director of APAC at Universal Robots, said: “We see greater awareness of robotic solutions and cobots in particular in Southeast Asia. The region is very attractive to companies – domestic or international – looking to increase their competitive edge, and whether setting up new facilities, or relocating from other countries. The new UR16e expands the capabilities of our e-Series range, catering to a wider range of business needs.”

UR16e’s strength and advanced features will be showcased live for the first time at the China International Industy Fair which takes place in Shanghai (17-21 September 2019) followed by Pack Expo in Las Vegas next week (23-25 September 2019).

 
[1] http://www2.itif.org/2018-industrial-robot-adoption.pdf

[2] http://www2.itif.org/2018-industrial-robot-adoption.pdf

[3] R https://cnalifestyle.channelnewsasia.com/trending/laksa-robot-cooking-station-catering-singapore-11694392

[4] Smarter ageing with collaborative robots

[5] Surgical robots used in more hospitals in Vietnam

[6] https://www.phukethospital.com/about-us/innovation-technology/robotic-surgery/

 

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Cobots – Revolutionising Businesses In Southeast Asia

Cobots – Revolutionising Businesses in Southeast Asia

Intelligent technologies, like robotics, offer great potential for businesses to get smarter and more efficient. This is an advantage recognised by Southeast Asian business leaders. By Sakari Kuikka, APAC Regional Director, Universal Robots.

IN A RECENT survey by McKinsey, 90 percent of business leaders in Southeast Asia agreed that new technologies will bring about improved performance. However, when it comes to adopting these solutions, awareness is not rising fast enough and uptake is low, except in the case of Singapore. According to the International Federation of Robotics, an average of 63 industrial robots were installed per 10,000 employees in Asia. Thailand and Malaysia registered robot densities of 45 and 34 units each. This figure is much lower in Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Due to the region being been known for its relatively cheap labour, this may encourage companies to forgo innovation investment, which to some extent explains why uptake does not closely mirror the raging robot adoption growth seen in the wider Asia region, that has been led by China, Korea and Japan.

However, this may not be the case for long as manufacturers face rising operational costs, shortage of workers coupled with increasing demand for high quality products at competitive prices. Thus, companies must act fast and take steps in automating, utilising robotic solutions such as collaborative robots  or cobots to drive sustainability.

Sakari Kuikka, APAC Regional Director, Universal Robots

Cobot Adoption Drives Business Growth

Cobots are designed to work side-by-side with people and are valuable automation tools, helping businesses increase productivity and product quality. Concerns by SMEs regarding high integration costs tend to be largely unfounded due to the flexible redeployment and reassignment capability of a cobot used in combination with strong manufacturing planning.

Cobots produced by Universal Robots (UR), for example, are present in over 25,000 production environments, benefiting businesses globally across various industries. Cobot adoption is higher among Southeast Asian electronics players particularly, with forward-thinking leaders like PT JVC Electronics Indonesia transforming manual labour-intensive processes with automated operations to remain competitive. This has enabled greater productivity, improved safety and enhanced workers’ well-being.

Delivering Sustainable Growth And Competitiveness

The global cobot market value is expected to reach USD 3,268.8 million by 2020, up from USD 283.7 million in 2017, and will grow at a CAGR of 63 per cent from 2018 to 2020. Unlike bulky traditional industrial robots, cobots are lightweight and mobile, affordable, and can be modified for different applications. Cobots are also used in a wide variety of processes including handling, assembling, inspection & testing, packing, dispensing and even populating and coating circuit boards and other assemblies. The wide range of applications is part of the reason why the market is growing so fast, clearly marking a highway forward for works operated generally across all industries. The sector is getting smart, and it is cobot adoption that’s driving this new efficiency.

Cobots – The Agile Human Assistant, Improving Working Environments And Output

A single installation can handle multiple jobs, with production layout flexibility and excellent cost management available to the operator. Cobots are typically installed without drastic changes made to the workspace layout, and they support the use of various end effectors. This includes a wide range of metal cutting and forming solutions, grippers, soldering irons, screwdrivers, etc.

This allows production teams to customise cobots to undertake various tasks. Output quality is also more consistent, and with a move towards automation, operators find that manpower can be redeployed to higher-value processes.

Safety is an important contributing factor when purchasing cobots. Universal Robots (UR) cobots, designed with a patented safety system, allow employees to work in close proximity without the need for safety fencing, although this is subject to risk assessment. Moreover, cobots are highly effective at relieving workers from handling high risk tasks such as soldering and separating hazardous cut metal sheets, or in environments where the employee would be exposed to emitted fumes and/or dust particles.

Looking Forward To The Future, With Some Smart Assistance

To achieve success, automation is integral in a company’s business planning. Companies must take steps in automating with support from available resources and channels.

For example, the UR Academy offers free high-calibre robotics training, with nine online modules covering basic programming training for UR robots. So far, over 20,000 users from 132 countries have signed up. This training programme works in parallel with UR+ which is UR’s global ecosystem of third-party developers. The online platform offers a plethora of readily available resources from cobot end-effectors and accessories to vision cameras and software, saving system integrators and end users time and effort to source for compatible integration tools.

Speaking at the recent World Economic Forum on ASEAN, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that ASEAN is in “good position” to take advantage of the tech revolution which can deliver productivity gains worth USD216 billion to USD627 billion. Southeast Asia has no time to waste in adopting automation and robotics to ensure they ride the wave of Industry 4.0 and avoid being left behind.

Universal Robots Encourages Vietnam’s Robotics Development During 25,000 Cobot Milestone

Universal Robots Encourages Vietnam’s Robotics Development During 25,000 Cobot Milestone

SINGAPORE: Universal Robots (UR), the pioneer and market leader in collaborative robots (cobots), has cemented its market leadership after hitting 25,000 cobot sales.

To celebrate this significant milestone, the company awarded ten of its 25,000 global customers a Gold Edition cobot. The lucky winner in Southeast Asia is Vietnam’s Vinacomin Motor Industry Joint Stock Company (VMIC), which was presented with the UR10 cobot on 9 October 2018. The special edition cobot has the joints painted in a rich, gold-coloured finish, a refreshing take on UR’s iconic blue and grey cobots.

Based in Vietnam’s Quang Ninh province, VMIC is engaged in the manufacture, assembly, maintenance and repair of transportation vehicles. The Company’s leading products are heavy duty trucks used in the delivery of mining products, together with light trucks and other utility vehicles. Other business activities include the production of automotive parts, industrial machinery and equipment trading, the construction of industrial and civil infrastructure, as well as the provision of technical consulting services.

“We are thrilled to receive the Gold Edition UR10 cobot which will be deployed to assist in the production of parts for transport vehicles, working alongside our employees,” said Pham Xuan Phi, VMIC Chairman and CEO.

“The need to improve productivity and reduce operational cost led us to opt for cobots as the ideal solution. Since deploying our first cobot in July this year, we have already seen productivity surge 30 per cent and improvements in product quality and takt time stability,” he added.

“We couldn’t have reached this historic 25,000-cobot landmark without excellent customers like VMIC,” said Sakari Kuikka, APAC Regional Director of UR. “With this, we celebrate not just the success of UR in empowering customers, but also the successes of our customers in innovating and changing their workplace with cobots. The Gold Edition cobot reflects our continued commitment towards making the unlimited potential of robotics accessible for all.”

Present in Vietnam since 2016, UR distributes cobots through local distributor and system integrator partners – Servo Dynamics Engineering and Tan Phat Automation JSC. Cobots are deployed in multiple industries including automotive, electronics, textile, footwear and food processing sectors.

Robotics Key to Vietnam’s Industry 4.0 Journey

Vietnam has identified robotics as one of the pillars of Industry 4.0 as automation becomes integral for businesses to remain competitive. However, 82 percent of Vietnamese businesses have yet to take steps to prepare for Industry 4.0 while just 10 percent are ready. Furthermore, a report by the Ministry of Industry and Trade showed that interest among enterprises to invest and apply new technologies was still modest.

Acknowledging this, the government has been aggressively focusing on developing initiatives and legislation to speed progress in the era. Among the efforts are the 2011 – 2020 Strategy for Science and Technology Development to enhance economic competitiveness and speed up industrialisation, prioritising the importance of industrial robots and hi-tech automation.

The government has also identified other measures including collaborations between technology enterprises and science & technology organisations to consult and support local firms as appropriate steps to ensure the successful acceptance of robotic opportunities.

The Vietnamese economy is one of the fastest growing in the world. The country recorded a 6.8 per cent increase in GDP last year on the back of a humming manufacturing sector. The economy in 2017 was worth VND5 quadrillion (USD223 billion).

Cobot Adoption Rising

Cobots are now the fastest-growing segment of industrial automation, expected to jump tenfold to 34 percent of all industrial robot sales by 2025, according to the International Federation of Robotics.

The automotive and electronics industries are big users of cobots globally. The market value for cobots in the global automotive industry was USD23.5 million (547 billion dong) in 2015 and is projected to reach USD 470 million (10 trillion dong) by 2021, at a CAGR of 64.67 percent between 2015 and 2021. Electronics is the second largest cobot integrator, accounting for 18 per cent of global demand in 2015. By 2021, electronics is forecast to invest approximately USD 480 million (11 trillion dong) in cobots.

Since the sale of the first cobot in December 2008, UR cobots have been utilised in various industries ranging from food production to scientific research, taking on tasks that include industrial assembly, pick and place and even quality inspections. Today, UR is the unrivaled cobot market leader with a 60 percent global share, selling more cobots than all other robot makers combined.

Unlike conventional robotic solutions, UR’s cobots are designed to work hand-in-hand with operators with maximum efficiency, opening up more opportunities for human-robot collaboration in the workplace. These highly versatile cobots can take on a wide spectrum of tasks and have the fastest payback time in the industry, making them a viable option for small-scale businesses where conventional options may be too expensive.

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