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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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Cobots Set To Benefit Businesses In Asia

Cobots Set To Benefit Businesses In Asia

Strong growth for cobot projected from 2020 to 2026 with Asia expected to surpass Europe by 2021

In a report by the World Robotics 2020 Industrial Report, it shows a record of 2.7 million industrial robots operating in factories globally, with 373,000 units shipped in 2019. In fact, Singapore has the highest density of industrial robots with 918 industrial robots used per 10,000 employees. In Singapore, top installations of industrial robots are found in electrical & electronics industry, followed by rubber and plastics, metal and machinery, food and others in no specific order of installation numbers. Increasing move towards automation in the production of electronic devices will continue to push robot installations in Singapore, and other Asian countries, including Republic of Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

Amongst industrial robots, collaborative robots (cobots) continues to be fastest growing segment of industrial automation, projected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 41.8 percent globally during 2020 to 2026, in a report by MarketsandMarkets. Asia Pacific cobot market is projected to become the largest cobot market worldwide, growing at a CAGR of 45.46 percent, with an addressable cumulative market value of $13.17 billion over the next 7 years in terms of cobot hardware.

The growth of collaborative robots is fuelled mainly by the advantages it offers, such as effective employee utilisation, higher productivity and flexibility in redeployment. One of the most significant difference between industrial robots and cobots, is the ability of cobots to interact safely with humans in a shared workspace. Manufacturing and assembly plants, especially in developed countries, are expected to adopt cobots quickly.

“With the world battling COVID-19, 2020 delivered some ingenious cobot implementations. From personal protective equipment manufacturing to swab testing, collaborative robots (cobots) are improving the efficiency, safety, and quality of countless processes. The vast majority of cobot implementations are found in electronics and automotive manufacturing and industrial environments, but cobots have the flexibility to be used in a wide variety of sectors from agriculture and medical to pharma,” said James McKew, Regional Director of Asia-Pacific in Universal Robots.

“The experience of 2020 and the uncertainty that we are facing in 2021, are driving companies to review their business strategies and workspace transformation. The pandemic is accelerating interest in cobots as it enables safe distancing in manufacturing and assembly plants to minimise the potential spread of infections, while fully engaging workers productively and efficiently,” he added.

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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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Review: The Future Of Additive Manufacturing In Southeast Asia

Review: The Future Of Additive Manufacturing In Southeast Asia

Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News (APMEN), in conjunction with SLM Solutions, SIEMENS, Universal Robots, Markforged, NAMIC, and GlobalData held a two-part webinar on 24 Nov and 15 Dec 2020 aimed at helping manufacturers understand 3D printing better and gather insights on the way forward for additive manufacturing (AM) in Southeast Asia.

In the first session on 24 Nov with SLM Solutions, SIEMENS and Globaldata, we looked at where the pandemic has left the AM industry in 2020; key considerations towards successful adoption; case studies which showcased the flexibility and agility of AM in the fight against the pandemic. Click here to view its recap as well as watch the playback of the session. 

We picked up from where we left off in our second session on 15 Dec with Gary Tang, Regional Sales Director, at SLM Solutions Singapore; Li Chen, Application Engineer, APAC, at Markforged; James McKew, Regional Director, APAC, at Universal Robots; and Dr. Ho Chaw Sing, Managing Director at the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (or NAMIC).

In a lively roundtable discussion, we addressed burning questions like how AM is a strategic differentiator in today’s manufacturing environment, how it presents unique opportunities and the future developing trends. Other discussion highlights include how to justify investments in 3D printing technologies, and the importance of partnering with the right companies or organisations, because AM is a very fast growing technology and no one company knows everything.

View the full webinar here!

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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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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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