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IFR Press Releases

The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) invites journalists to the World Robotics IFR CEO Round Table 2017 where world leading experts e.g. from Amazon, General Motors and ABB will discuss automation and the future of US manufacturing - one-on-one interviews can be arranged.

Robots play a key role in automating the US economy. Human robot collaboration and artificial intelligence will be game changers in the manufacturing industry.

When: Monday, 03 April 2017, 01:00 - 03:00 pm

Where: AUTOMATE 2017, McCormick Place North, Future of Automation area, Chicago, IL

The panel

  • Jon Battles, Amazon
    Director, WW Engineering Advanced Technologies
  • Mark Franks, General Motors
    Director, Global Automation and North America Vehicle Launch
  • Craig Hertig, Engineered Machined Products
    Director of Engineering
  • Howie Choset, Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute (ARM)
    CTO
  • Per Vegard Nerseth, ABB
    Group Senior Vice President
  • Michael P. Jacobs, Applied Manufacturing Technologies AMT
    President

Chaired by

  • Timothy Ward, Journalist, Washington D.C.

Agenda

  • Welcoming and presentation of the participants of the IFR CEO Round Table by Gudrun Litzenberger, IFR General Secretary (5 minutes)
  • Presentation of new Global Sales Data of Industrial Robots by the IFR President Joe Gemma, KUKA USA (15 minutes)
  • Discussion on “Automation and the Future of US Manufacturing” (50 minutes + 20 minutes questions of the audience)
  • Get together and personal interviews with the panelists (optional)


To register, please contact Carsten Heer:

Email: newsroom@econ-news.com
phone: +49 (0) 40 82244 284

CEO Statements

"One of the key benefits of the IFR is its influence on public opinion, to bring across the positive impact robotics has on economic performance, and to ease fears of technology. Particularly in times such as these, in which populist messages are prevalent, society needs an institution that informs objectively about robotics with well-founded statistics and research."

CEO Statements

"Robotics technology is the key element of future production. This is already clear in the automobile industry and other relatively large scale productions. But now, robot co-workers are creating new opportunities and applications, particularly in the medium and small size enterprises, through easier set-up and reasonable costs. The IFR introduces these applications and paves the way towards potential future markets."

CEO Statements

"The IFR has established itself as the benchmark for robotics in the world. It provides a communication platform among world-class robotics companies on new market trends and technological developments. As a rapidly growing robotics company within the emerging market in China, ESTUN Robotics is proud to be a member of IFR, creating mutual benefits."

IFR Press Releases

Bill Gates' latest idea to tax robots aims to solve a problem that does not exist: empirical analysis of economic data and forecasts shows that automation and the use of robots create new jobs by increasing productivity.

This is in line with the historical experience of technological revolutions, last seen when computers and software automated the business world. To tax production tools instead of their profits would have a negative impact on competitiveness and employment. This is presumably why the European Parliament rejected the idea to impose a robot tax and the International Federation of Robotics strongly agrees with that decision.

According to the McKinsey Global Institute, more than 90 percent of jobs will not be fully automatable in the future. Instead, robots and humans will work together. The positive impact that the increased productivity of robots has on employment can already be seen in the most advanced industrial nations. The US automotive industry, for instance, installed more than 60,000 industrial robots between 2010 and 2015. During this same period, the number of employees in the US automotive sector increased by 230,000. The same trends can be seen in the most advanced economies in Europe and Asia. Moreover, recent research by the OECD on the future of productivity shows: companies that employ technological innovation effectively are up to 10 times more productive than those that do not. This has a positive impact on competitiveness.

Profits, not the means of making them, should be taxed

A robot tax would make these much-needed investments in technology more expensive for companies. “Profits, not the means of making them, should be taxed,” says Joe Gemma, President of the International Federation of Robotics. Research shows that automation actually results in a positive tax balance for social systems. Repetitive or dangerous tasks are replaced by industrial robots, leading to the creation of new, safer, higher-skilled and higher-income jobs that increase pension contributions.

Avoid bureaucracy and use international standards

The IFR strongly supports the idea of greater cooperation in robotics between the public and private sectors. They must adapt education and training systems for example, so that current and future workers can reap the benefits of robotics. Yet, it is important to avoid bureaucracy which does not deliver value.

The IFR believes that a European agency for robotics and artificial intelligence would create such bureaucratic overhead. The civil law issues related to robotics are already addressed by existing legislation. Product liability and safety are covered by global standards and EU directives such as the European machinery directive. At present, there is no need for further development or the establishment of a separate category for robotics. The current process at European level needs to take into account what has already been standardised: the world’s largest International Organization for Standardization ISO, has established a special Technical Committee for robotics - the ISO/TC 299. Technical experts from American, Asian and European countries have developed international robot safety standards under European harmonisation. All countries concerned are involved in these activities. The sector has a major interest in developing standards at the global level rather than looking only at European or national activities. “The IFR is convinced that regulations on robotics must be developed in close collaboration amongst representatives of the public sector, robotics manufacturers, robot users and developers, as well as researchers,” says Joe Gemma.

Press contact

EconNEWSnetwork
Carsten Heer
Tel. +49 (0) 40 822 44 284
E-Mail: redaktion@econ-news.de

IFR Press Releases

Asian industry’s uptake of industrial robots is accelerating: in just five years its operational stock rose 70 percent to 887,400 units, (2010-2015).

In 2015 alone, annual sales of robots jumped 19 percent to 160,600 units, setting a new record for the fourth consecutive year. These are results of the World Robotics Report 2016, published by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).

China is the biggest market for industrial robots in the world and takes 43 percent of all sales to Asia including Australia and New Zealand. It is followed by the Republic of Korea, with a share of 24 percent of regional sales, and Japan with 22 percent. That means 89 percent of robots sold in Asia and Australia went to these three countries in 2015.

China will remain the main driver of growth in the region and will expand its dominance. By 2019, almost 40 percent of the global supply will be installed in China. Continued growth in robot installations is predicted for all major Asian robot markets: Korea, Japan, Taiwan and other Southeast Asian countries.

Electrical and electronics industry overtakes automotive sector

The main driver of the latest growth in Asia was the electrical and electronics industry. Sales for this segment jumped 41 percent in 2015 to 56,200 units. This compares to 54,500 units in the automotive industry which is just a 4 percent rise. Within only a five year period, shipments of industrial robots to the electrical and electronics industry have more than doubled.

The manufacturing industry – still by far the number one by volume - recorded an annual growth of 25 percent to 149,500 units in 2015.

With regards to robotics density, the current leader is South Korea, with 531 robot units per 10,000 employees, followed by Singapore (398 units) and Japan (305 units). These Asian countries rank in the top 10 most advanced industries. Worldwide, the average robot density is 69 robot units per 10,000 employees.

“China will continue to be a strong future market for the robotics industry. Part of this trend is driven by the Chinese government´s 2025 initiative to support automation. The country aims to become a leader in automation globally,“ says Joe Gemma, President of the International Federation of Rootics.

IFR Press Releases

The worldwide number of domestic household robots will rise to 31 million between 2016 and 2019. The sales value of robots cleaning floors, mowing lawns, and cleaning swimming pools will grow to about 13 billion US dollars in this period.

These forecasts are takes from the 2016 World Robotics Report, “Service Robots”, published by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).

“Robotics in personal and domestic applications has experienced strong global growth with relatively few mass-market products: floor cleaning robots, lawn mowers and edutainment robots are dominating the market,” says Joe Gemma, President of the International Federation of Robotics. “But the next generation of robots will have even greater capabilities and will open up new fields of application.”

Robots as domestic helpers

In the coming years, vacuum and floor cleaning robots will continue to make up the lion’s share of units at work in households. Sales will rise from 3.6 million units (2015) to around 30 million units within the 2016-2019 forecast period. Vacuum and floor cleaning robots account for 96 percent of domestic robot sales. Robotic mowers and pool cleaning robots rank second and third, respectively.

Entertainment robots

Sales figures for the entertainment sector show a similar dynamic. In 2015, the total number of toy robots, remote-controlled multi-media robots and personal edutainment robots amounted to 1.7 million units. The IFR forecasts that this market will grow to 11 million units between 2016 and 2019. Toy and hobby robots account for 70 percent of the market share in the entertainment segment.

Assistive robots for the handicapped and elderly

Strong growth is reported in sales of handicap assistive robots and for the elderly. At 4,700 units (2015), the sales volume is still comparatively low. But sales figures are expected to rise to 37,500 units from 2016 to 2019. The rise in the value of sales will mirror this development: Sales in 2015 amounted to USD 16.8 million - a year-on-year increase of 34 percent. The total value is forecast to rise to USD 97 million between 2016 and 2019.

IFR Press Releases

2016 was again a successful year for industrial and service robots and we look forward to a promising and challenging year 2017.

Dear Reader,

2016 was again a successful year for industrial and service robots and we look forward to a promising and challenging year 2017.

In a few weeks, we will meet at the Automate in Chicago which will host the ISR Americas 2017. Sponsored by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), the ISR a unique robot event that is hosted various places around the world, bringing new global insights on the latest in robotics applications and research. The ISR will be fully integrated into the Automate 2017 conference sessions, allowing all participants to learn about the newest developments in robotics, machine vision, imaging, motion control and other automation technologies covered at Automate.

The ISR will also celebrate a gala dinner for the Robotic Industries Association (RIA) Joseph F. Engelberger Robotics Awards, the industry’s highest honor. We are looking forward to more developments in 2017 another exciting year of growth in the market. Other major events will follow in 2017.

Major events in 2017

  • Automate 2017 (3-6 April 2017), Chicago
  • IFR CEO Round Table at Automate (4 April 2017)
  • ISR Americas 2017 - (3-6 April 2017)
  • Joseph Engelberger Award 2017 (5 April 2017)
  • IERA Award 2017 at ICRA Conference (29 May-3 June 2017) Singapore
  • CIROS 2017 (5-8 July 2017), Shanghai
  • IFR-CRIA CEO Round Table at CIROS
  • ISR Asia 2017
  • INNOPROM 2017 (10-13 July 2017), Ekaterinburg
  • IFR-RAR CEO Round Table at Innoprom
  • Robotworld 2017 (13-17 September 2017), Seoul
  • iREX 2017 (29 November - 2 December), Tokyo

Looking forward to another record year in 2017.

Respectfully,


Joe Gemma
IFR President

At the EUnited Robotics members’ assembly on Thursday, December 8, 2016, Walter Zulauf, Director of Technology at Güdel Group AG, was elected as the new Chairman of EUnited Robotics for the next three years.

Walter Zulauf will succeed Henrik A. Schunk (CEO, Schunk GmbH & Co. KG) who held the position for the last 6 years. Schunk, who is keen on continuing his contributions to EUnited Robotics, was elected as Vice-Chairman. Wilfried Eberhardt (Chief Marketing Officer, KUKA AG) was elected, for a second term, as Vice-Chairman of the EUnited Robotics. Wilfried Eberhardt currently also serves as President of the umbrella organization, EUnited aisbl.

In his tenure as Chairman, Henrik Schunk substantially transformed EUnited Robotics’ profile establishing it as the European robotics industry association with clear vision, mission and goals. He played an indispensable role in creating closer ties with the European Commission. And, he was instrumental in gathering experts and key players at the first European Robotics Summit in 2015, which initiated an open exchange on issues of concern for the robotics industry in Europe and set the course for future exchanges.

As the new EUnited Robotics Chairman, Walter Zulauf will continue the work on key trends that will shape the future of our industry. The company Güdel was one of the founding members of EUnited Robotics in 2004. Walter Zulauf has been with Güdel since 1990 and as a close associate of the late Rudolf Güdel he has been strongly involved in all EUnited Robotics activities for many years.

“I am delighted to be elected as the new chairman of EUnited Robotics and look forward to continue working with all of you,” said Walter Zulauf at the EUnited Robotics Members’ Assembly on December 8th.

IPA

ARENA2036 is a research campus in Stuttgart where partners from industry and research institutions investigate and demonstrate the future of automobile manufacturing.

Up until now, the core of automotive manufacturing processes is the assembly line, whereas future production systems will ask for more agile and transformable manufacturing systems with reduced dependency from conveyor belts and fixed cycle times. Advanced robotics and autonomous guided vehicles will play a crucial role in these future concepts. Part of the ARENA2036 campus is the “research factory”, coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA, which bundles research activities and implements them in practice. Flexible and changeable robots that allow close cooperation with the worker are one of the key-enablers of changeable production.

ARENA2036 is a public private partnership and stands for “Active Research Environment for the Next Generation of Automobiles”. It is a completely new type of cooperation between research institutions and industry. The project aims to redefine automobile development and production along the entire value chain so that the sustainable and resource-efficient
production of small lot sizes to the costs of mass production becomes feasible. Furthermore, the research factory will present a main use case of future Industry 4.0 and thus demonstrate the efficiency and flexibility of a completely digitalized “smart factory”.

The research campus was founded in 2013. First consortium members were among others the University of Stuttgart, Fraunhofer IPA, Daimler and Bosch. Currently, a new appropriate building with a total project area of 7000 sq. m for running a research factory and office space for hosting over 100 engineers and scientists is mostly finished and will be
officially inaugurated by spring 2017.

Future car manufacturing

The production of the future, which is the objective of the “research factory”, is just one part of ARENA2036. Starting with the simulation of the car model, the applied materials and the manufacturing as a digital prototype, this computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) fastens the building of fewer prototypes and reduces defective goods as well as development loops. Thanks to a new composition of materials like carbon fiber, high-strength steel and composites automobiles will weigh less than today. This is also due to function-integrated lightweight constructions: Work pieces like sensors and harnesses will already be installed in the components in order to reduce time and cost for the assembly. New propulsion concepts like hybrid solutions with combustion engines, fuel cells or pure electrical vehicles will also be considered.

Not just flexible but agile production

One of ARENA’s aims is to develop and implement agile production systems. Today’s markets become more and more volatile. This means for example shorter product life cycle times and more personalized products. In order to maintain their competitiveness, companies must be able to compensate these fluctuating demands efficiently. This gets evident when a new car model enters the market and the demand is extremely high or when the demand for an expiring model decreases: this often leads to supply shortages or overcapacity and hence lost profit.

New materials and new drive train concepts pose new requirements on the manufacturing plants. The main problem here is that the future market demand cannot be predicted. As shown by research into flexible manufacturing systems (FMS) engineering, a high level of flexibility into the manufacturing system usually does not pay off in the end. If modifications are necessary after commissioning, this risks high costs or even a complete new construction. In contrast to this, agile production systems can easily and quickly be adapted to the market needs of changing lot sizes and different production technologies.

For being able to reduce the dependence on manufacturing lines in ARENA2036, autonomous guided vehicles (AGV) will transport the components and chassis from work station to work station. The AGV acts as cyber physical system in an Industry-4.0-scenario, connected to all other components of the fully digitalized assembly line. This flexible
chain of assembly stations allows that every model variant follows its optimized and specific path through the manufacturing shop floor. If a new model variant appears and shall be manufactured, new assembly stations can easily be integrated. Also, modern cars feature more and more capabilities for autonomous driving. In the final assembly, these autonomous-driving capabilities might even be used for moving from work station to work station hence further reducing the need for manufacturing equipment.

Human-Robot-Cooperation for an adjustable automation degree

Human-Robot-Cooperation (HRC) is an enabler for agile production systems. It allows combining traditional robot capabilities such as stamina, high payload and precision with the dexterity, cognitive capabilities and creativity of humans. Fraunhofer IPA is currently developing an assembly station that allows HRC for the assembly of a car door module. The worker executes tasks for which sensitivity and complex motion sequences are necessary, like the fitting and clipping of harness connectors or the complex joining trajectory of the door handle. The robot relieves the worker by undertaking monotonous and simple working steps, e. g. the insertion and the screwing of the module and the body shell.

The assembly station can easily be adapted in accordance to the number of orders, the needed portfolio of variants and technologies as well as the individual customer requirements. The free movability and configuration of all components of the assembly station allow its
versatility. AGVs transport all components to the station. The lightweight robot can use different tools like vacuum grippers or screw drivers depending on the corresponding work tasks. Besides the free positioning on the shop floor the stations can be composed according to
the customers’ demands. Depending on the workload, the assembly stations are scalable: If lot sizes are small, workers can do the assembly manually or are supported by robots for the monotonous tasks. Given medium lot sizes, the tasks can be shared between worker and robot for real human robot collaboration. And if high lot sizes have to be produced, a parallel assembly line can be opened that is served from worker and robot either simultaneously or at staggered intervals. The representation of this sliding automation degree is another research objective of the “research factory” which is driven by all the partners in ARENA2036.

Fraunhofer IPA has wide experience in the conception and planning of agile production systems not only within the context of ARENA2036. The institute works regularly together with system integrators to realize complex automation solutions. Companies from SME to large multinational enterprises can benefit in various ways from the researcher’s expertise: the automation experts analyze existing manufacturing systems in order to improve their efficiency and changeability; they conceive and plan new systems and develop hard- and software components as for example changeable gripping systems which enable an agile production adapted to the specific needs of each customer.

IFR Press Releases

In the last six years, (2010-2015), the US industry has installed around 135,000 new industrial robots. The principal driver in this race to automate is the car industry. During this same period, (2010-2015), the number of employees in the automotive sector increased by 230,000.

Today, the robot density in the automotive sector of the United States rank second worldwide to that of Japan. The industrial renaissance in North America continues unabated; provided the global economy remains stable, it is estimated that robot shipments to Canada, Mexico and the US will grow at an average annual rate of 5% to 10%.

The industrial sector in the US continues to invest strongly in robotics and automation. At 27,500 units in 2015, the number of newly installed industrial robots has more than tripled since the financial crisis of 2009. The main driver of this growth is the ongoing trend to automate production in order to strengthen the competitiveness of American industry globally, to keep manufacturing at home, and, in some cases, to bring back manufacturing that had previously been outsourced to other countries.

The US automotive industry is leading the automation charge: between 2010 and 2015, more than 60,000 industrial robots were installed in the United States. Only in China were there more industrial robots installed during the same period - almost 90,000 units. The carmakers in the US have successfully restructured their businesses following the economic and financial crisis in 2009; General Motors, the top manufacturer of cars and light vehicles in the US, further stabilized its market share in 2015, as did Ford Motor Company. Automation has played a critical role in enabling European and Asian car manufacturers and automotive parts suppliers to expand their capacities in the US and to invest in the modernization of their existing facilities. The robot density in the United States increased to 1,218 robots per 10,000 employees in the automotive industry in 2015 (Japan = 1,276; Korea = 1,218; Germany =1,147; France = 940 robots per 10,000 employees).

Car manufacturers and component suppliers will continue to be heavy users of robots. In addition, more and more new companies specialized in electric or autonomous vehicles are starting up in the United States and are in need of modern and efficient production facilities. This said, after six years of continuously growing industrial robot sales to the US automotive industry, a moderate decrease in the overall sales growth is anticipated for 2016 - 2017; the retooling necessary for new car models will then drive an increase in demand for industrial robots starting in 2018 - 2019.

The electronics industry continues to be the fastest-growing emerging industry forindustrial robots in the United States (2014-2015 = +41%). Increasing numbers of orders can also be expected from the metals and machinery industry, the rubber and plastics industry, the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry, and the food and beverage industry. Changing customer demands necessitate the modernization and expansion of capacities which, combined with local industry’s need for automation to strengthen its competitiveness, will lead to further increase in demand for industrial robots.

“The rapid rise of robot use in the United States is impressive for several reasons,” said Jeff Burnstein, President of Robotic Industries Association. “First, we’ve seen the industry’s largest user, the automotive industry, accelerate its purchases of robots and at the same time create more jobs in the manufacturing process. Second, we’ve seen strong growth in the use of robots in general industry, as robots further penetrate industries such as life sciences, warehousing, and semiconductor and electronics manufacturing. Finally, the use of robots is rising in small and medium sized companies who see robotics as a key factor in improving productivity and product quality in order to stay globally competitive. We expect these trends to continue well into the future,” Burnstein explained.

IFR Press Releases

The total number of service robots for professional use sold in 2015 increased by 25 percent. The sales value surged by 14 percent to a new record of US$ 4.6 billion. By 2019, sales forecast indicates another rapid increase up to an accumulated value of US$ 23 billion for the period 2016-2019.

In terms of units, logistic systems make up 53 percent of the total forecast of service robots in this segment. Service Robots for personal and domestic use surged by 16 percent in 2015 to a value of US$ 2.2 billion. Between 2016 and 2019 estimated sales will rise up to an accumulated value of US$ 22 billion.

“The demand for service robots is seeing a historic breakthrough”, says Joe Gemma, President of the International Federation of Robotics, “In addition to the already established business with professional service robots the personal and domestic segment is increasingly dynamic. Growth forecasts between 2016 and 2019 are just excellent.”

Service robots for professional use

In the segment with service robots for professional use, sales of medical robots rank ahead of agricultural and logistics robots. In all three top groups, growth dynamics are expected to be strong during the period 2016 to 2019: In the medical segment - with its major fields of applications in diagnosis, surgical assistance and rehabilitation - sales value is expected to rise to US$ 7.2 billion. In agriculture - especially with milking robots - an increase up to US$ 5.7 billion is expected. In the logistics systems - with the major share of automated guided vehicles (AGV) - a sales value of US$ 5.3 billion is expected. Demand in the logistics has already seen strong growth from 2014 to 2015. The number of units sold rose by 50 percent to 19,000. The sales value surged during the same period by 52 percent to US$ 779 million. Based on the manufacturers’ market shares, 81 percent of the logistics systems are produced in the US - only 11 percent in Asia and 8 percent in Europe.

The overall outlook for all professional service robots is very positive: In the period 2016-2019, sales of approximately 333,000 new units will rise to a total of US$ 23 billion.
The overall outlook for all professional service robots is very positive: In the period 2016-2019, sales of approximately 333,000 new units will rise to a total of US$ 23 billion.

Service robots for personal and domestic use

A sales value of a comparable scope is emerging for service robots for personal and domestic use. The forecast of approximately 42 million sold units taken together will amount to about US$ 22 billion (2016-2019). Broken down by areas of application, household robots are the largest segment - both with the number of units and by market value. 3.7 million of these types of robots were sold in 2015 (vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, window cleaners) - an increase of 11 percent compared to 2014. Between 2016 and 2019 a sales boom of approximately 31 million units is forecasted. The sales value climbs to US$ 13 billion in this period. Entertainment robots will also see a strong growth in sales. From 2014 to 2015, unit sales of entertainment robots jumped by 29 percent to around 1.7 million units. Especially toys and hobby systems enjoyed great popularity with consumers. The entire segment is projected to increase to a total of 11 million units (2016-2019). The sales value adds up to around US$ 9 billion in the same period.

The outlook for Household robots is quite positive: between 2016 and 2019 31 million units are forecasted
The outlook for Household robots is quite positive: between 2016 and 2019 31 million units are forecasted

Service Robotics Start-Up Companies

The service robotics segment is currently dominated by European (43 percent) and North American producers (37 percent). Nearly 20 percent come from Asia. It is interesting to see the rising number of start-ups in this relatively new market. Around 620 companies have been identified. With nearly 10 percent of all start-ups, the US is currently in the lead.

Captions for downloadable service robot pictures below

The UV-Disinfection Robot is a disinfection robot for hospitals and manufacturing, to be used with the aim of reducing infection rates of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) and microorganisms in production. The UV-DR has a kill rate of 99.9% and moves autonomously and safely around facilities. (Image credit: Blue Ocean Robotics)
The UV-Disinfection Robot is a disinfection robot for hospitals and manufacturing, to be used with the aim of reducing infection rates of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) and microorganisms in production. The UV-DR has a kill rate of 99.9% and moves autonomously and safely around facilities. (Image credit: Blue Ocean Robotics)

Discovery IGS 730 is a robotics 3D imaging system for minimally invasive surgery co-designed be GE Healthcare and BA Systèmes. This angiography system brings both extremely high-quality imaging and complete workspace freedom to the hybrid operating room. (Image credit: BA Systèmes)
Discovery IGS 730 is a robotics 3D imaging system for minimally invasive surgery co-designed be GE Healthcare and BA Systèmes. This angiography system brings both extremely high-quality imaging and complete workspace freedom to the hybrid operating room. (Image credit: BA Systèmes)


Agribot is a robot, that autonomously does all the work in orchards and plantations. It is controlled via the operator panel accesible through a web browser. Here, it can be seen during one of the first field tests in a vineyard, where ist capabilities to operate two machines at once was tested. (Image credit: Agribot sp. z o.o)
Agribot is a robot, that autonomously does all the work in orchards and plantations. It is controlled via the operator panel accesible through a web browser. Here, it can be seen during one of the first field tests in a vineyard, where ist capabilities to operate two machines at once was tested. (Image credit: Agribot sp. z o.o)

IFR Press Releases

The incentives to automate are forcing the manufacturing industries all over the world to continue to improve their production processes in order to be competitive in a global market.

Dear Reader,

Let me just start with sad news. It is with our deepest sorrow that Xavier Grau, General Manager of our member association AER-ATP, Spain, passed away on September 4, 2016 in Barcelona at the age of 59. With gratitude we pay our respect to his work in robotics and all the contributions he made to the IFR. Our thoughts are with his family. Another robotic pioneer passed away these days - Victor Scheinman the inventor of the Stanford arm. He developed a programmable six jointed robotic arm that performed small-parts assembly using feedback from touch and pressure sensors. He founded Vicarm Inc. to market a version of the arm for industrial applications.

Today, World Robotics 2016 Industrial Robots is published.

Despite the rather moderate development of the global economy since 2010, the demand for industrial robots has accelerated with double digit growth rates. It seems evident that the demand for industrial robots will further increase considerably. Why?

The incentives to automate are forcing the manufacturing industries all over the world to continue to improve their production processes in order to be competitive in a global market. The demand for consumer goods is increasing especially in the emerging markets; and the life-cycles of many of these products are decreasing. With a shorter time-to-market requirement to meet the demand changes, technological innovations are needed. The demand for high quality products and sustainable solutions is rising all over the world. The increasing diversity of consumer goods requires a sound flexible production system to adjust the production processes in order to meet the customer needs without compromising quality.

The automation of manufacturing has not only increased productivity but also has resulted in continued increase of employment in the relevant countries. One example is my country, the United States. Here the automotive industry has invested highly in robotics and automation in the past years. Between 2010 and 2015, almost 80,000 industrial robots were installed in the United States. In the same period, the number of employees increased by 230,000 people. The US automotive industry has successfully restructured their businesses following the economic and financial crisis in 2009. General Motors, the top producer of cars and light vehicles in the US, further stabilized its market share in 2015 as did Ford Motor Company. Automation has played a crucial role in European and Asian car manufacturers and automotive parts suppliers to assist in expanding capacities in the US and investing in modernization of their existing facilities. The robot density in the United States increased to 1,218 robots per 10,000 employees in the automotive industry in 2015. The United States ranked second together with the Republic of Korea following Japan with a robot density of 1,276 units.

The work in factories is changing. Robots can improve working conditions for employees. Dangerous, tedious and dirty work is transferred from human to machine. Not only the environment is cleaner for the worker, but also the job is less physically fatiguing. In addition, by educating workers on how to use robots they can learn valuable programming skills and perform more stimulating tasks. The vision is that robots and humans collaborate. Co-bots will assist people in the workplace, support workers in a variety of tasks, improve manufacturing quality and processes, and increase productivity. They can also assist an aging workforce, e.g. in physically demanding tasks. This enables people to keep their jobs and remain in the workforce. It will also take some pressure off the negative effects of demographic shifts.

Respectfully

Joe Gemma

IFR President

IFR Press Releases

By 2019, more than 1.4 million new industrial robots will be installed in factories around the world - that’s the latest forecast from the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).

In the race for automation in manufacturing, the European Union is currently one of the global frontrunners: 65 percent of countries with an above-average number of industrial robots per 10,000 employees, are located in the EU. The strongest growth drivers for the robotics industry are found in China; however, in 2019 some 40 percent of the worldwide market volume of industrial robots will be sold there alone. So says the 2016 World Robotics Report, as published by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).

“Automation is a central competitive factor for traditional manufacturing groups, but is also becoming increasingly important for small and medium-sized enterprises around the world”, says Joe Gemma, President of the International Federation.

The industrial robots boom 2019

The number of industrial robots deployed worldwide will increase to around 2.6 million units by 2019. That’s about one million units more than in the record-breaking year of 2015. Broken down according to sectors, around 70 percent of industrial robots are currently at work in the automotive, electrical/electronics and metal and machinery industry segments. In 2015, the strongest growth in the number of operational units recorded here was registered in the electronics industry, which boasted a rise of 18 percent. The metal industry posted an increase of 16 percent, with the automotive sector growing by 10 percent.

European Union well on course towards automation - China making up ground

The strongest growth figures in Europe are being posted by the Central and Eastern European states - the rise in sales was about 25 percent in 2015. Also 2016 a similar growth rate is forecasted (29 percent). The positive trend is expected to continue. The average growth will remain steady at around 14 percent per year (2017-2019). The biggest climbers in sales of industrial robots are the Czech Republic and Poland. Between 2010 and 2015 the number of new robot installations climbed in the Czech Republic by 40 percent (compound annual growth rate) and in Poland by 26 percent (CAGR).

In a worldwide comparison, the European Union member states as a whole are particularly far advanced regarding automation. This is evident from the robot density existing in the automotive industry, for example. Half of the top 10 nations with the most industrial robots per 10,000 employees belong to the European Union. The highly developed nature of automation in Europe is also clear from looking at the manufacturing industry. Of the 22 countries with an above-average robot density, 14 are located in the EU. The robot density in the big Western European economies is still currently ahead of up-and-coming China. The largest gap in this respect is with Germany (301 vs. 49 units) ? the smallest being with the United Kingdom (71 vs. 49 units).

China, the market for growth

With a national 10-year plan - entitled “Made in China 2025” - the country is aiming to become one of the top technological industrial nations within just a few years. However, in order to achieve Beijing’s target of a robot density of 150 units by 2020, some 600,000 to 650,000 new industrial robots will have to be installed throughout China. By comparison: Around 254,000 units were sold in the global market during 2015. Nevertheless, today China is already a leading sales market. At around 68,600 units sold, the statistics for 2015 were 20 percent above the previous year’s figures, thereby exceeding the volume of sales for all European markets combined (50,100 units). Total sales will increase by 30% in 2016 and between 2016 and 2019 by 20% on average to more than 400,000 units in 2019. This will be 40% of the total sales in 2019.

The Republic of Korea and Japan come in second and third place, as the world’s largest sales markets for industrial robots. The number of units sold in 2015 grew by 55 percent in the Republic of Korea, and by 20 percent in Japan. Together with Singapore, these two countries lead the rankings of the global automated economies for robot density in manufacturing. With a stable economic situation, it may be expected that both Korea and Japan will see average annual growth of 5 percent in sales of robots from 2016 to 2019.

North America on path to success

The USA is currently the fourth largest single market for industrial robots in the world. Within the NAFTA area (USA, Canada and Mexico), the total number of newly installed industrial robots rose by 17 percent to a new record of some 36,000 units (2015). The leader of the pack was the USA, accounting for three-quarters of all units sold. 5 percent growth was recorded. With a comparatively much smaller amount of units, the demand in Canada increased by 49 percent (5,466 units), while that in Mexico grew by 119 percent (3,474 units). With a stable economic situation, it may be expected that North America will see average annual growth of 5 to 10 percent in sales of robots from 2016 to 2019.

The USA plays a leading role when it comes to automation in the automotive industry. US car makers are ranked third in robot density, behind Japan and the Republic of Korea. The US automotive industry has performed well over the last six years. 2015 proved to be the most successful year since 2005. Major manufacturers from the US, Europe and Asia embarked on restructuring programmes resulting in the installation of some 80,000 industrial robots between 2010 and 2015. This is the largest investment worldwide, second only to China at around 90,000 units. This commitment is reflected in the increasing number of new jobs: The number of people employed in the automotive sector grew by around 230,000 between 2010 and 2015.

Robots and jobs

The enormous automation programmes with robots had a positive effect on employment not only in the US. In the German automotive sector, the number of employees likewise increased parallel to the growth of robotic automation: The increase between 2010 and 2015 averaged 2.5 percent - the operational stock of industrial robots showed a parallel increase averaging three percent per year. The positive effect of automation on the number of jobs is confirmed by a study recently published by the ZEW, in partnership with the University of Utrecht. In essence, reduced production costs result in better market prices. The increasing demand then triggers more jobs.

Outlook 2019

By the end of 2016, the number of newly installed industrial robots will have increased by 14 percent to 290,000 units during the year. For 2017 to 2019, continued growth averaging at least 13 percent per year is forecasted (CAGR). Robotics manufacturers have made preparations for these kinds of growth prospects. To this end, production capacities have been increased, and the majority of European manufacturers are operating new locations in the large sales markets of China and the USA.

As far as technological trends are concerned, companies will, in the future, be concentrating on the collaboration of human and machine, simplified applications, and light-weight robots. Added to this are the two-armed robots, mobile solutions and the integration of robots into existing environments. There will be an increased focus on modular robots and robotic systems, which can be marketed at extremely attractive prices.

The demand among customers for industrial robots will likewise be driven by a whole assortment of factors. This includes the handling of new materials, energy efficiency, better developed automation concepts, enabling the real-world factory and the virtual world to be interlinked with one another, as per the definition of Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things.

IFR Press Releases

China wants to make the leap into the Top 10 of the world’s most intensively automated nations by 2020.

By then, its robot density is targeted to rise to 150 units - this being the number of industrial robots per 10,000 employees (2015: 36 units). The aim is to increase annual sales of domestically produced industrial robots to 100,000 units by 2020. This goal was declared by Wang Ruixiang, President of the China Machinery Industry Federation, speaking at the “China International Summit of Robot Industry” in Shanghai. With a robot density of 36 units, China is currently ranked 28th in the world. So says the World Robot Statistics, issued by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).

The Chinese market for industrial robots continues to be strongly influenced by imports. Foreign manufacturers make up a market share of 69 percent. However, domestic competitors are currently increasing their market share significantly. Within two years, the sales volume posted by Chinese manufacturers has risen from 25 percent in 2013 to the most recent figure of 31 percent. The Beijing government is promoting the rapid expansion of automation, through its reform agenda entitled “Made in China 2025”. “By the end of 2020, I reckon that the share of the domestic market enjoyed by Chinese robotic manufacturers could well increase to 50 percent”, said Dr. Daokui Qu, CEO of the Chinese robot maker Siasun, at the recent IFR CEO Round Table in Munich.

Asia registered the world’s highest sales figures for 2015; at 156,000 units this represented a rise of 16 percent in comparison to the previous year. The region’s largest individual markets were China (67,000 units), followed by South Korea (37,000 units) and Japan (35,000 units). The five markets of China, South Korea, Japan, the USA and Germany account for around three quarters of global robot sales.

“Digital information and automation will continue to drive the success story of robotics - it really is a transformation”, says Joe Gemma, President of the International Federation of Robotics. “It is driven in particular by industry 4.0, the industrial internet of things and services.”

IFR Press Releases

The irrepressible march of robots is revolutionising the workplace of the future. This was the subject of a discussion between five CEOs of the world’s leading robotic manufacturers, who were joined by experts from Boeing and Nestlé at the “World Robotics IFR CEO Round Table 2016” hosted in Munich.

High calibre participants from the USA, China, Japan, Germany, Denmark and Switzerland shared their practical knowledge on “Workplace 4.0 - The Role of Robots” in the light of the global automation boom.

IFR President, Joe Gemma, presented the latest statistics on the worldwide robot market and outlook until 2018 before the discussion started. Among CEOs of robot manufacturers, Dr. Phil Crothers, Senior Manager, Materials and Manufacturing Technology of Boeing and Daniel Magnin, Corporate Filling & Packing Technologies Manager of Nestlé were on the panel as users.

The CEO´s on the panel were:

  • Per Vegard Nerseth, Managing Director of ABB Robotics, Switzerland
  • Stefan Lampa, CEO, KUKA Roboter, Germany
  • Masahiro Ogawa, General Manager of Yaskawa Robot Business Division, Japan
  • Dr. Esben H. Østergaard, CTO and Co-Founder, Universal Robots, Denmark
  • Dr. Daokui Qu, CEO and Founder of SIASUN Robot and Automation Co. Ltd., China

Further videos are available on the IFR You Tube Channel.

IFR Press Releases

On 23 June 2016, the Executive Board of the world robots association IFR appointed Japanese Junji Tsuda as new Vice President of the International Federation of Robotics. Together with the President Joe Gemma, Tsuda will now manage the activities of the IFR.

In 2008, he already had this position for a period of two years. Presently, the 65-year-old is the Representative Director Chairman of the Board of the Japanese robot manufacturer Yaskawa Electric Corporation.

“I am extremely pleased to have Junji Tsuda at my side, a top-level and experienced representative of the robotics industry,” says Joe Gemma, President of the International Federation of Robotics. “Together we want to further strengthen the IFR as the world’s central contact for robotics and expand effective exchange of views. In particular, in these exciting times of the fourth industrial revolution international networking of all the stakeholders is becoming more and more important. Against this background the appointment of Junji Tsuda underpins the significant role of the Japanese market.”

Junji Tsuda was elected unanimously by the Executive Board. This body is composed of representatives of national robotics associations from all over the world, the IFR president and delegates of robot manufacturers and research institutes.

Junji Tsuda was pleased about his re-election: “I feel very honoured to be re-appointed as Vice President. I am looking forward to close and successful collaboration with the IFR President Joe Gemma and consequently with our members.”

Since 2013, Junji Tsuda has been the Representative Director Chairman of Yaskawa Electric. He has already been a member of the executive board of Yaskawa as Director and Managing Director since 2005. Tsuda began working for Yaskawa in 1976, after obtaining his university degree (B.S.) in mechanical engineering at the renowned Tokyo Institute of Technology. Since the 1990s, Tsuda has headed various America-related business units and has been active in the parent company since 2003.

IFR Press Releases

The worldwide sales of industrial robots achieved a new record number of 248,000 units in 2015. This represents a rise of 12 percent compared to the previous year (2014: 221,000 units). This sees the continuation of the global automation boom, which commenced in the wake of the financial crisis in 2009.

The sales figures for industrial robots have increased almost four-fold since that time (2009: 60,000 units). There is no end in sight to this growth trajectory: By 2018, some 2.3 million units will be deployed on factory floors - more than twice as many as in 2009 (1.0 million). So says the 2016 World Robotics Statistics, issued by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).

Within the global markets, the positive sales figures are being driven by highly automated emerging countries, and by regions that are already highly developed economically. For example, in Europe the total sales figures for industrial robots in 2015 rose by ten percent to 50,000 units compared to the previous year. The strongest individual markets here are the three EU countries, Germany (20,000 units), Italy (6,700 units) and Spain (3,800 units).

Growth in America proved even more dynamic, with sales increasing by 15 percent to a total of 37,000 units. The USA heads the list with 27,000 units sold (+3 percent). An extraordinarily large leap forward in automation was registered in Mexico. There, sales more than doubled within one year to around 5,500 units. The reason underlying this development is the investments made in the automotive industry, the products of which Mexico exports to the USA and South America.

Asia is still the world’s strongest growth market. This region saw a total of 156,000 units sold in 2015 – a rise of 16 percent. With some 68,000 industrial robots sold, China alone surpassed the total market volume for Europe.

Growth in China (2015: +17 percent) saw foreign-based robotic manufacturers profit with a 69 percent share of the total market. At the same time, domestic competitors have, by now, significantly expanded their market share to 31 percent (2013: 25 percent). The robotics markets in South Korea (2015: 37,000 units) and Japan (2015: 35,000 units) continue to occupy second and third places in global sales behind China - followed by the USA and Germany. This top 5 countries account for three-quarters of the global sales of industrial robots.

Broken down into sectors, with the worldwide largest volume it is the automotive industry that holds the lead in automation using industrial robots. During 2015 some 95,000 units were sold in this segment - a rise of one percent. The sectors that posted the strongest growth in 2015 were the metal industry (+63 percent), the plastics and rubber industry (+40 percent), followed by the electronics industry (+16 percent).

“The wave of digital transformation and automation will continue to drive the robotics boom forward until 2018”, says Joe Gemma, President of the International Federation of Robotics. “Revolutionary developments in IT connected with all aspects of the Internet of Things, and new networked services are changing the producing industries fundamentally. Machines, logistics and production plants are merging into integrated cyber-physical systems. The aim is to use smart factories to work more flexibly, more cost-efficiently and more productively.”

IFR Press Releases

The twelfth IERA Award for robotics and automation goes to the collaborative dual-arm robot “YuMi®” by ABB Robotics this year. The name stands for “you and me - we work together” - since the robot was specially designed to work side by side with its human colleagues without protective fencing.

The International Federation of Robotics IFR together with the Robotics and Automation Society of the international association of engineers, IEEE-RAS, awarded the invention and entrepreneurship prize in Robotics and Automation (IERA) to ABB Robotics in Munich.

“All three finalists have presented us with pioneering robotics solutions,” says Joe Gemma, President of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). “Our competition shows that a new era of automation has already dawned in which humans and robots work hand in hand.” “YuMi®”, the dual-arm robot by ABB Robotics, features numerous functionalities such as a vision system, a gripper or touch-sensitive sensor technology opening up new, flexible areas of utilisation in industrial assembly. The movements of its arms mimic those of human arms, making YuMi particularly suited for a flexible and agile production environment - for instance in the electronics industry or in the manufacture of watches, toys or automotive components. Its programming is customised to the individual user. In addition, YuMi® is fitted with a “safety-oriented behaviour function” for safe cooperation between human and machine.

“ABB convinced the jury by integrating three essential elements: a visual system, safe collaboration with humans and feeding of small parts to the dual-arm robot for assembly,” says Erwin Prassler, Vice President of the IEEE-RAS.

“Thanks to YuMi®, traditional approaches of manufacturing procedures and industrial processes will have to be reconsidered”, says Per Vegard Nerseth, head of the global business unit Robotics. “YuMi® will offer countless application options, putting us at the beginning of a new phase of industrial automation.”

The two other finalists: The Danish robot manufacturer Universal Robots came with “UR3” - a flexible and precise cobot (collaborative robot) for assembly tasks and the automated workbench. The Swedish company OpiFlex Automation presented a unique mobile robotics platform. The docking solution is compatible with standard industrial robots of different providers and sizes and allows quick change of place in the manufacturing workshop.

For the award ceremony on 21 June 2016 a joint forum by IFR and IEEE-RAS came together in the course of the 47th International Symposium on Robotics in Munich. The competitors who made it into the final round presented their innovative solutions to the plenary meeting. Afterwards a jury composed of top-ranking industry and science representatives decided on this year’s winner.

The Robotic Industries Association (RIA) announces the industry’s highest honor, the Engelberger Robotics Award recipients for 2016. The awards will be presented to Dr. Chia Day and Dean Elkins at a special ceremony on Tuesday, June 21st in Munich, Germany.

The Robotic Industries Association (RIA) announces the industry’s highest honor, the Engelberger Robotics Award recipients for 2016. The awards will be presented to Dr. Chia Day and Dean Elkins at a special ceremony on Tuesday, June 21st in Munich, Germany. The ceremony is held in conjunction with the joint 47th International Symposium on Robotics (ISR 2016) and AUTOMATICA, the International Trade Fair for Automation and Mechatronics.

The awards, named after the worldwide “father of robotics” Joseph F. Engelberger, are presented annually by RIA to honor individuals who have a significant impact on the robotics industry. Each recipient will receive a special plaque, commemorative medallion and a $5,000 honorarium. Beginning with the initial presentation in 1977, 122 industry leaders from 17 nations have now been selected for this honor.

“To continue the tradition of honoring Mr. Engelberger, we are privileged to add two well-deserving individuals to the illustrious list of people who have made a great impact on the robotics industry,” said Jeff Burnstein, President of RIA. “We’re delighted to present the Engelberger awards to Dr. Chia Day and Dean Elkins this year to recognize their achievements in robotics.”

Dr. Chia Day, who will be awarded in the application category, has been directly responsible for the installation of 40,000 robots over four years at Foxconn. This unprecedented volume of robots over a short duration represents a significant portion of growth in the robotics industry. More importantly, the deployment of these units in consumer electronics assembly is opening a new market for industrial robots. Dr. Day has been instrumental in directing this program and finding the optimal applications within Foxconn’s operations. His long history in robotics and industrial automation has proven essential to the success of the Foxbot program and the phenomenal growth of the Chinese domestic robotics market.

“It’s like a Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing contributions to the field of robotics in a career,” said Dr. Day. “It’s an honor to be in the ‘Hall of Fame’ with other major recognized leaders in the field.”

Dean Elkins, who will be awarded for robotics industry leadership, is a Senior General Manager of Yaskawa Electric America, Motoman Robotics Division. Mr. Elkins’ long career of volunteer service with The Association for Advancing Automation (A3) includes serving as past chair on both the A3 and RIA boards as well as chairing committees for the automate show and RIA membership. He began his career at Motoman in 1989 as a Regional Sales Manager and went on to hold positions as Director Third Party Sales, Vice President, Standard Products and International, Vice President US Sales. Along the way, Mr. Elkins assisted in the incorporation of the Motoman subsidiaries of Yaskawa Motoman Mexico S.A. de C.V., Yaskawa Motoman Canada, Ltd., and Yaskawa Motoman Brazil. Prior to Motoman, Mr. Elkins worked for Reis Robots, Ellison Robotics, Cimcorp Par Systems and Hobart Brothers, starting his robotics career in 1981. Mr. Elkins graduated with a BA degree in Psychology from Southern Illinois University in 1979.

“The thought of even being mentioned in the same sentence as past Engelberger award winners is beyond incredible,” said Mr. Elkins. “This award is the pinnacle to what has been an incredible career in the robotics industry. Being recognized by my industry peers as someone worthy of an award associated with Joe and his legacy is completely humbling.”

RIA

The North American robotics market has set new records to begin 2016, according to Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group.

A total of 7,406 robots valued at approximately $402 million were ordered from North American companies during the first quarter of 2016. The number of units ordered in the first three months of 2016 is a new record among opening quarters, growing seven percent over the same period in 2015. Order revenue, however, decreased by eight percent in the first quarter. Robot shipments also set a new opening quarter record, with 7,125 robots valued at $448 million being shipped to North American customers. This represents growth of two percent in units and 21% in dollars over the same quarter of last year.

“It is encouraging to see so many new companies adopting robotics for use in their operations,” said Jeff Burnstein, President of RIA. “Companies of all sizes are realizing that robots are more affordable than ever before and can help them increase their productivity to remain competitive in today’s global economy.”

Growth in Non-Automotive industries soared in the first quarter of 2016. Robots ordered by the Semiconductor & Electronics (90%), Food & Consumer Goods (82%), and Plastics & Rubber (44%) industries all experienced sizable increases over the same period in 2015. While it is still the largest industry in terms of volume for robotics, orders to the Automotive industry grew only one percent in the first quarter of 2016. In terms of applications, the biggest increases were realized in Spot Welding (31%), Assembly (15%), and Material handling (six percent).

“As the technology behind robots is evolving, the number of tasks they are able to perform is increasing,” said Jeff Burnstein, President of RIA. “Today more than ever, robots can handle complex tasks at fast speeds, leading to high productivity for customers. Disruptive innovations like collaborative robots are helping to drive adoption of robotics in new and exciting ways, and that is promising for the future of our industry.”

Burnstein noted that the RIA and its sister group AIA – Advancing Vision + Imaging, are seeing the impacts of the growth in demand for robotics and related automation in upcoming events like the International Collaborative Robots Workshop and The Vision Show, slated for May 3-5, 2016 in Boston. “Collaborative robots are the hottest topic in robotics today, and we will have a record turnout in Boston for the workshop,” he said. “The Vision Show is also expected to have record attendance this year,” Burnstein added. Registration and free show passes are available now, visit Robotics Online and Vision Online respectively for more information on these two collocated events.

RIA estimates that some 262,000 robots are now at use in North American factories, which is third to Japan and China in robot use.

IFR Press Releases

In 2015 the number of industrial robots sold worldwide surpassed the 240,000 unit mark for the first time. This corresponds to global year-on-year growth of 8 percent. The greatest demand was again registered by the automotive industry.

In 2015 the number of industrial robots sold worldwide surpassed the 240,000 unit mark for the first time. This corresponds to global year-on-year growth of 8 percent. The greatest demand was again registered by the automotive industry.

Robotics markets around the world continue to grow

In a comparison of global markets, China continues to exhibit the highest demand for industrial robots - sales rose by 16 percent. Despite the general perception of a “reluctant” investment climate, China extended its leading position as the number one sales market worldwide with unit sales reaching 66,000. This includes the units sold by local Chinese suppliers. Total sales in China, however, remained below the original IFR forecast of 30 percent. Demand in Asia, excluding China, remained at a high level with 78,000 units sold.
Sales of industrial robots in Europe rose by a record of 9 percent to nearly 50,000 units. Eastern Europe, with growth of 29 percent, proved to be one of the fastest growing regions globally. The number of units deployed in North America also broke a new record: in the U.S., Canada and Mexico a total of 34,000 units were sold in 2015 representing year-on-year growth of 11 percent.

Robot types and expanding application categories

Articulated robots are by far the most sold robot type. The diverse range of applications across which they are deployed, coupled with the broad range of models available, has helped to drive sales of this robot type across all regions to over 150,000 units in 2015 (CAGR 2010-2015 = +16 percent) - a new high.

CEO market forecasts

“In the age of Industry 4.0, the automotive industry is taking a leading role when it comes to flexible and state-of-the-art automation solutions and the direct collaboration between humans and robots”, says Stefan Lampa, President and CEO of KUKA Roboter. “Moreover, the demand for automation solutions is constantly growing in nearly all sectors. New markets are evolving where automation has not been a major topic until now. A particularly important market for us is the electronics sector: the electronics industry is confronted with an increasing number of new products, an accelerating pace of development and short product life cycles. Here too, flexibility is the be-all and end-all in the industry.”

“The growth on the world robotics market is being driven forward at a rapid pace”, says Olaf C. Gehrels, CEO of FANUC Europe Corporation. “Along the way, two technological milestones have been set: collaborative robots based upon standard robots equipped with tested and proven controllers have demonstrated their readiness for routine use in the industrial environment and the introduction of high-payload robots capable of handling items weighing up to 2,300 kg now allows the employment of totally new manufacturing concepts.”

“Global robot shipments in 2015 confirmed that these are very exciting times to be in the robotics industry”, says Per Vegard Nerseth, Managing Director of ABB Robotics. “As we move into 2016, the traditional drivers in our industry are now being complemented by the tremendous demand for solutions related to the Internet of Things, Services and People, all of which lead me to believe that this year will be yet another record year for all concerned.”

IFR Press Releases

In 2015, global sales of industrial robots increased by 8% to almost 240,000 units, another all-time high for the third year in a row. The automotive industry and the electronics industry continued investing in automation of their factories. Asia, in particular China, was again the main driver of the growth.

Dear Reader,

In 2015, global sales of industrial robots increased by 8% to almost 240,000 units, another all-time high for the third year in a row. The automotive industry and the electronics industry continued investing in automation of their factories. Asia, in particular China, was again the main driver of the growth. North America is also one of the front-runners in the global automation race. Robot sales in North America increased by 11% and in Europe by 8%. The prospects for the coming years are promising.

Digitalization of factories is a great challenge and opportunity faced by the manufacturing industry. More companies are exploring the advantages of digital connectivity. In addition, the human robot partnership will assume a key role in advancing intelligent production (Industry 4.0). Here, user-friendly robots as well as mobile robots are opening up opportunities for automation in various sectors.

The “Smart Factory” will be a focus of AUTOMATICA 2016 from 21 to 24 June. Automation and production-process innovation will be presented under the theme “Optimize your production”. A separate exhibition area, including a conference room and stage, will be dedicated to Industry 4.0.

At the next IFR CEO Round Table on 22 June 2016, at the AUTOMATICA in Munich, CEOs of major robot suppliers and robot end-users will have discussions on the topic: “Get ready for the digital revolution” - change of work and change of workforce.

Furthermore, the 47th International Symposium on Robotics (ISR 2016), from 21 to 22 June 2016 in Munich, will have the central theme: “Robotics in the era of digitalization.” At the ISR dinner on 21 June 2016, the prestigious Engelberger Award and the IERA Award will be presented.

Respectfully

Joe Gemma
IFR President

Technologies that make robot systems tailored to the needs of small and medium-sized productions: This is what the European Initiative SMErobotics will present at this year's AUTOMATICA in Munich. With the technologies developed and deployed in the project, companies benefit from a more efficient and flexible use of robot systems even in low-volume and high variant productions in applications as diverse as assembly, welding, or wood-working. 

March 2016
Technologies that make robot systems tailored to the needs of small and medium-sized productions: This is what the European Initiative SMErobotics will present at this year’s AUTOMATICA trade fair from June 21st to 24th in Munich. With the technologies developed and deployed in the project, companies benefit from a more efficient and flexible use of robot systems even in low-volume and high variant productions in applications as diverse as assembly, welding, or wood-working. Thereby, they can increase the throughput as well as the product quality.
Robots that can be setup with minimal efforts, which largely configure themselves and learn from human-robot collaboration offer a significant step towards a digitized production. Within the European SMErobotics initiative which is coordinated by Fraunhofer IPA, partners from research institutions and end users engage in joint R&D and demonstration efforts. Partners of the Consortium developed technologies for robots that simplify and broaden automation solutions in typical production scenarios of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Currently, various robot systems for assembly, welding and wood-working are being deployed and tested at end-user sites. The result is that SMEs can combine novel robotics solutions with their customer-oriented production. At the trade fair, suppliers of automation equipment and manufacturing companies are invited to explore advanced technologies and solutions that enable flexible and personalised production scenarios.

Software as a key component

The project focusses on the development of several applications that allow a more cost-efficient use of robots even in the case of varying lot-sizes, product variants and throughputs. To meet flexibility requirements, the systems should be easy to operate by workers or specialists like welders with no or very little expertise in robotics. Both becomes feasible through novel means of intuitive user interaction and software based tools that enable automated process planning and that replace the so far normal but cost- and time-consuming programming.
Based on intuitive human-machine interfaces, robot programmes can be adapted without specific knowledge. The specialist of an SME can even evaluate the process in order to continuously improve the process quality. The processes are particularly robust due to the intelligent sensors of the robot system: They can precisely locate the work piece and compare it to the CAD data. Thus, the system detects tolerances or product variants of the work piece and can adapt the process if needed. Also, failures are treated automatically.

Innovative assembly solutions

So far, robot systems are rarely executing multi-part assembly processes because of their complexity and the high number of variants that have to be handled. The SMErobotics demonstrators using innovative technologies show how automation can be realized reasonably despite these challenges.
This includes for example a dual-arm robot system which can manipulate or assemble a work piece similarly to the human approach. Safety sensors enable the space-saving and easily reconfigurable use without fences. Another demonstrator presents the completely automated planning of an assembly process. Therefore, the system uses CAD data as well as knowledge databases that include geometric information about the work piece and the robot. The software uses a so-called skill-based programming: Specific functions are provided as programme building blocks. They can be re-used and re-composed as needed what substantially simplifies the programme adaptation to new variants.
All assembly solutions as well as nearly all other demonstrators are designed for safe human-robot collaboration. This is particularly interesting for SMEs with their fluctuating demands because tasks can be flexibly shared between human and robot. Furthermore, the exhibit RoboPAM shows a hybrid working place for the assembly of electronic devices. Human and robot can use the same tools.

Automated Welding

Besides assembly, welding is a typical process in SMEs. The cognitive and collaborative welding assistant CoWeldRob generates automatically collision free motions and is capable of welding manually prepared or inaccurate work pieces. This is due to 3D sensors and use of CAD data that allow the system to consider variations of the work piece or of the setting. It adapts the process in accordance to them and also takes parameters specific to the welding process into account.
For the welding of structural steel a cooperative dual-arm robot system has been developed. Similarly to a human-like approach, it can manipulate as well as process the work pieces. Both welding demonstrators have intuitive user interfaces so that welding experts can easily correct the process if needed. With these and further demonstrators SMErobotics shows a big variety of SME-specific solutions. These range from technology-components for system integrators and application developers to ready to use systems for SME and other end users.

Robot Investment Tool

The presentation of the online tool

www.robotinvestment.eu

completes the offer at the booth. End users can quickly and based on their individual information calculate the investment costs for a robot system. Furthermore, they have the opportunity to directly get in contact with system integrators. This provides an overview about the topic and a first basis of decision-making to companies which didn’t use robot systems so far.

Keypads and touchscreens make a wide range of different devices easy and intuitive to operate. A robot system developed by Fraunhofer IPA now allows device manufacturers to realistically simulate such loading in order to determine how durable their devices are. Typical applications of various devices can be simulated and automatically tested for any desired time duration.

March 2016
Keypads and touchscreens make a wide range of different devices easy and intuitive to operate. However, the material of which they are made is subject to especially high loading through constant use and, at some point, becomes impaired in its functionality. A robot system developed by Fraunhofer IPA now allows device manufacturers to realistically simulate such loading in order to determine how durable their devices are. Typical applications of various devices can be simulated and automatically tested for any desired time duration.
Thousands of repetitions in the space of just a few days: while manually impossible, this can be accomplished by a newly developed robot system from Fraunhofer IPA. Whether it’s a matter of pressing keys, inputting data or using fingers or a stylus, e.g. for a signature pad - the robot system is capable of realistically simulating typical applications of human-machine interfaces. Such a system can test how long the materials human-machine-interfaces are made of and the associated functions remain fully functional. This provides device manufacturers with accurate knowledge about the quality of their products, which is, moreover, of importance for possible warranty claims. In addition, customers can gain accurate information on durability.

Robot imitates typical usage with its forces and path

For each device, the researchers at Fraunhofer IPA collaborate with the manufacturer and draw up the typical usage scenarios and loading profiles to set up the robot system. This includes, in particular, setting up the end effector, which is capable of holding a variety of tools - similar, for example, to a finger or stylus - and simulating various loading scenarios.
The programming of the robot system depends on features that describe the interaction performed by the user on the devices with human-machine interfaces. The researchers measure and process these features in authentic situations with test subjects. That could include the duration and force registered during the interaction. If the device under test is a touchscreen, it might also be relevant where the action is typically performed. This data is used by the scientists to suitably configure the forces and path of the robot. "We’ve succeeded in setting up the robot system so that it is capable of accurately simulating an application such as the use of a cash machine. Force sensors in a robot-guided finger-like end effector accurately measure and evaluate the force exerted by the user in a multiplicity of interaction cycles," explains Milad Geravand, research assistant at Fraunhofer IPA. The accuracy of the tests is guaranteed by measuring systems as well as by regular checks by the employees.

Uniform quality of testing

"For a device manufacturer, automated testing offers the advantage that the performed conditions are always identical and the test scenarios are reproducible and therefore comparable. The motion of the robot system can be precisely controlled to guarantee that the testing is completely traceable and verifiable," says Geravand. By the end of each intense test, device manufacturers are provided with a detailed report on the tests and results as well as with a brief summary, which can also be used as a reference for customers. The scientists are ready to employ this technology for life-cycle evaluation of human-machine-interfaces either in the labs at Fraunhofer IPA or on the manufacturer’s site by setting up the testing systems.

IFR Press Releases

The US economy is one of the front-runners in the global automation race. By 2018, the number of industrial robots sold to 2018 will, on average, rise by at least five percent per annum, to a new record of 31,000 units (2014: 26,202).

About one-half of these will be installed by car makers and their suppliers. Viewed according to robotic density - meaning the number of industrial robots per 10,000 employees - the US automotive industry, with 1,141 units, already ranks third in the world’s national economies after Germany (1,149 units) and Japan (1,414 units). So says the 2015 World Robot Statistics, issued by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).

In the most recently published annual economic report of the US President to Congress, the White House underlines the central role played by robotics in the economic growth of the United States. Therefore as far as technology and innovation are concerned, it is the increased deployment of robots - alongside digital communications technology - that will prove to be the decisive factor of success in the robust growth of production in the USA. The economic experts see great potential in various economic sectors.

The automobile industry is currently displaying the fastest rate of modernisation within NAFTA (the USA, Canada and Mexico). 55 percent of the total demand for industrial robots comes from the auto sector alone. One fourth of these units is installed by car makers - the greatest demand is, by far and away found in the supply industry. The drive towards automation has been running at full pelt for five years now. This is enabling car manufacturers and suppliers in the US to supply the world’s largest domestic market and to produce the greatest number of cars and light commercial vehicles after China. The USA is witnessing very intense investment in the technical renewal of its domestic manufacturing, aimed at improving competitiveness and partly at regaining capacities from abroad.

The automotive supply industry is providing a strong impetus to the deployment of robotic technology in North America. Investments within NAFTA have increased by about 40 percent every year since 2010, and are forecast to continue rising in coming years. The primary drivers of industrial robot investments among automotive suppliers are new quality standards, more energy efficient production and new materials. Not to forget that foreign suppliers have been at work for a good five years now in expanding their production capacities with the aid of robotic technology, so that they can be closer to their crucial customer base.

“Clearly the Automotive industry continues to drive innovation in the automation arena and need for optimization, quality, adaptability and flexibility”, says Joe Gemma, President of the International Federation of Robotics. “The need from the OEM’s has filtered down to the supplier base to work on improved quality, flexibility and process optimization fostering the requirement for automation technologies to meet the demands as well as quicker deliveries and adapting to a dynamic environment.”

On June 21 to 24, 2016, up to 850 companies are going to display their solutions for the optimization of production processes and professional service robotics in six exhibition halls. AUTOMATICA in Munich. Highlight topics are Human-Robot-Collaboration, Industry 4.0 and Professional Service Robotics.

On June 21 to 24, 2016, up to 850 companies are going to display their solutions for the optimization of production processes and professional service robotics in six exhibition halls. AUTOMATICA

in Munich is one of the biggest robotics shows in the world and one of the leading technology platforms for automation. It is THE place to be for decision-makers, manufacturers and developers, for providers and users of robotics and automation.
Highlight topics are Human-Robot-Collaboration,

Industry 4.0 and Professional Service Robotics

.

See all technologies

AUTOMATICA 2016 offers a birds-eye view of technological development drivers in this innovative sector:

Robotics, machine vision, integrated assembly solutions

and professional service robotics are core exhibition areas and special topics at the trade show.
Robots, which are mobile and collaborate with people, are indispensable in a networked production world that can react flexibly and fully automated to changing needs. Industry 4.0 and the resulting applications are a chance to establish Europe as a technology leader and pioneer. AUTOMATICA will show how the automation industry is facing the challenge of this technology trend.

One trade fair - many industry sectors

The global industry gathering offers the opportunity to gain information about new developments, cultivate business contacts and prepare investments in the automation industry. Plus, AUTOMATICA shows the complete spectrum of products, systems and solutions for almost every automation project and therefore appeals to users from the most diverse sectors of production such as automotive and metalworking industry,

medical, pharmaceutical, food and plastics

industry.

The breakthrough of smart robots

The exhibition area

“Professional Service Robotics

” in Hall B4 will be once more a source of inspiration. Robots have left their protective cage and now work closely with the people. Regardless of whether mining or agriculture, construction, forestry or cargo handling, whether in soil or underwater, in the air or in space: service robots relieve people not only of dangerous work, but they also provide better quality of life. Human-robot collaboration can ensure workplace ergonomics and better working conditions.

Industry 4.0

Parallel to AUTOMATICA the new platform

IT2Industry

will take place in Hall B4. The new embedded trade fair for digitization of production concerns intelligent, digitally networked work environments. The IT2Industry will demonstrate the link between automation and information technology and focus on digital transformation in production, new opportunities for users and suppliers of robotics and automation as well as “Industry 4.0 in Practice”.

STARTUP WORLD

STARTUP WORLD

is the new marketplace of innovation at AUTOMATICA 2016. With the STARTUP WORLD Market, the STARTUP WORLD Award, and the STARTUP WORLD Stage, it is set to offer a unique matchmaking platform to thriving startup companies, investors, and other industry entities while showcasing product innovations in automation and service robotics.

IFR Press Releases

The automation of the fourth industrial revolution is accelerating: By 2018, around 1.3 million industrial robots will be entering service in factories around the world.

Global robot density above average - European Union (Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Finland, France, Austria, Netherlands, Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, United Kingdom), Asia (Republic of Korea, Japan, Taiwan), America (USA, Canada).

Frankfurt, 25 February 2016 - In the high-revenue automotive sector, global investments in industrial robots increased by a record-breaking 43 percent (2013-2014) within one
year. Viewed on a cross-sector basis, the international market value for robotic systems now lies at around 32 billion US dollars. So says the 2015 World Robot Statistics, issued by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).

The robotic density figure is a key performance indicator for gauging the current degree of automation within the international markets: For example, the average global robotic density in producing industries lies at 66 robot units per 10,000 employees. A total of 21 countries have an above-average robotic density (Fig. 1). More than one-half of these highly automated countries are located in the European Union (14 countries). Then there are three Asian economies (South Korea, Japan, Taiwan), as well as the USA and Canada.

The current global leader in industrial robotic automation is South Korea. In this instance, the robotic density exceeds the global average by a good seven-fold (478 units), followed by Japan (314 units) and Germany (292 units). At 164 units, the USA currently occupies seventh place in the world.

At 36 units per 100,000 employees or about half the global average figure, China is currently in 28th place. Within the overall global statistics, this is roughly on a par with Portugal (42 units), or Indonesia (39 units). However, about five years ago, China embarked on a historically unparalleled game of catch-up aimed at changing the status quo, and already today it is the world’s largest sales and growth market for industrial robots.

Never before have so many robot units been sold in one year as were sold in China in 2014 (57,100 units). The boom is continuing unabated in line with the forecasts: In 2018, China will account for more than one-third of the industrial robots installed worldwide.

“The robotic boom is laying down an important milestone in the realisation of the fourth industrial revolution”, says Joe Gemma, President of the International Federation of Robotics. “With their digital interfaces, industrial robots can be seamlessly integrated into the networked structures of smart factories. This is a benefit exploited by highly automated economies and by countries adopting a new industrial focus. Further impetus is coming into the form of the technological breakthrough in human-robot collaboration: Robotic workers will in future be found working hand-in-hand with human staff, helping to replace traditional, rigid production processes with flexible structures.”

RIA old

Robot orders and shipments in North America set new records in 2015.

A total of 31,464 robots valued at $1.8 billion were ordered from North American companies during 2015, an increase of 14% in units and 11% in dollars over 2014. Robot shipments also set new records, with 28,049 robots valued at $1.6 billion shipped to North American customers in 2015. Shipments grew 10% in units and nine percent in dollars over the previous records set in 2014.

The automotive industry was the primary driver of growth in 2015, with robot orders increasing 19% year over year. Non-automotive robot orders grew five percent over 2014. The leading non-automotive industry in 2015 in terms of order growth was Semiconductors and Electronics at 35%.

According to Alex Shikany, Director of Market Analysis for RIA, the fastest growing applications for robot orders in North America in 2015 were Coating and Dispensing (+49%), Material Handling (+24%), and Spot Welding (+22%). RIA estimates that some 260,000 robots are now at use in North American factories, which is third to Japan and China in robot use.

The recent record performance by the robotics market in North America is concurrent with falling unemployment. Last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the unemployment rate in the United States reached 4.9%, its lowest level since February of 2008.

“Today there are more opportunities than ever before in the robotics industry,” said Jeff Burnstein, President of RIA. “The continuing growth in robotics is opening many new job opportunities for people who can program, install, run, and maintain robots. In fact, if you look closer at the jobs discussion, automation is helping to save and create jobs. A lot of companies tell us they wouldn’t be in business without robotics and related automation.”

Burnstein noted that the RIA and its sister group AIA - Advancing Vision + Imaging, are seeing the impacts of the growth in demand for automation in upcoming events like the International Collaborative Robots Workshop and The Vision Show, slated for May 3-5, 2016 in Boston. “Collaborative robots are the hottest topic in robotics today, and we are expecting a strong turnout in Boston for the workshop,” he said. “With interest in vision and imaging at an all-time high, AIA expects its flagship trade show, The Vision Show, to draw record attendance this year,” Burnstein added. Visit Robotics Online and Vision Online respectively for more information on these two collocated events.

Case Studies Industrial

Here maybe a deodorant, probably even try the new shampoo out of television advertising - the drugstore customers like strolling through the ranks and rummage through the shelves after drugstore products.

February 2016

Oliver Sauermann, Head of Industrial Engineering of Otto Kind GmbH, manages projects of systems-new procurement and accompanied changes in processes in manufacturing at Otto Kind. He gives the answer to the above question: “We from Otto Kind GmbH are a manufacturer of shop fitting in drugstores as well as in the food- and DIY-sector.” In his shopping experience a customer, even if not directly seen, confronted every day with products of the Otto Kind GmbH. In addition to setting up the stores, the company is also active in the establishment of factories and manufactures cabinets, drawer cabinets and ergonomic workstations. With 250 employees at its headquarters Dümmlinghausen / Gummersbach and several European sales offices, the Otto Kind GmbH faces the challenges of the market: “The establishment of shops is always a complex issue. Each retail chain has its own ideas of how he wants to set up his shop. A high degree of customizing is required, which we can attend to with our product portfolio.”

During the production of shelves of Otto Kind special shelf feet must be welded out of a pipe. This module consists of five individual parts. Because of a sharp increase of production in 2013 a robot-automated welding process for this module was an interesting option for Otto Kind: “In addition to the increased number of pieces the idea of robotic automation came also up due to a not yet optimally weld quality of our components.” Before the company initially worked with relatively few jigs, however in large series production. An older, highly specialized welding machine in the company was only able to prefabricate two different types of products, so that the scope for further assemblies was extremely limited.
In order to improve not only the optical quality of the welding seams but also to ensure a consistent quality of the high production volume, welding equipment concepts with Panasonic Robot & Welding were elaborated. Alexander Thomas, Key Account Manager of Panasonic Robot & Welding, indicates the former challenge of robot automated welding project of Otto Kind GmbH: “The component has very difficult to reach welding positions where an extremely low-spatter welding is required. Our TAWERS technology enabled the customer to eliminate spatters largely - even on difficult positions.” Mr. Sauermann also confirmed that the severe reduction of rework is a major reason for the acquisition of the system of Panasonic Robot & Welding. The foregoing welding tests in the technical center in Neuss have been able to prove this. Otto Kind GmbH decided to invest directly in two robot automated welding systems.

The first welding machine was equipped with a turntable, a TA-1800WG robot and the TAWERS technology. This system has a peak width of 1600 mm and is for the user due to the rotation changing table more comfortable to use: “The user can work parallel to the welding process. He is able to put the application into the jig without having to do a lot of moving expenses. This compact system is ideal for the majority of our applications.” 60% of the components from the Otto Kind GmbH can be welded with this solution. Components up to 2500 mm in length are welded on the second Panasonic Robot & Welding plant. This plant consists of an H-frame, TA-1900WG3 robots TAWERS technology. With a top range of 3200 mm the major components of the company could be welded easily. The tube foot was welded in the past with a cycle time of 1.5 minutes while the quality of the welding seam was volatile.

Today, the tube foot is welded in a cycle time of 22 seconds and additionally with an excellent repeatability. Next to the huge improvement in the weld quality due to repeatability and spatters reduction the production efficiency could be highly improved. For the Otto Kind GmbH it is now possible to weld a lot of modules completely finished in one clamping. Due to the easy accessibility of the robot it is possible to weld almost without reworking. The purchase of the Panasonic solution had a huge impact on the quality management of the company: “Our customers are thrilled! Complaints are not an issue for us.”

The protective enclosures of the two welding systems from Panasonic Robot & Welding were designed by the Otto Kind GmbH from existing systems. The company established a sheet metal structure which is acoustically effective. Through a special perforation in the rear wall the occurred production sound inside the enclosure is not absorbed but broken in the production area. “The resulting sound in the cabin remains in the cabin” indicates Mr. Sauermann and adds that such housing in a manufacturing environment, in particular for employees is critical: “To design an employee-friendly work environment is to our company of great importance.”

Mr. Sauermann sums up that the cooperation with Panasonic Robot & Welding is very success promising: “The planning phase was exemplary! Panasonic Robot & Welding was not too pushy, but not too cautious - just as it should be.” He emphasizes the rapid flow of information and in particular the service care they provide. For him, the reliability of a company is the most important factor: “All discussed concerns with Panasonic Robot & Welding are just arrived, as they were promised.”

IFR Press Releases

We are in the middle of one of the most exciting times in the history of Robotics and the automation industry. We continue to see explosive growth with 2015 topping 2014 by 15% and establishing a new record in Robot sales worldwide.

Dear Reader,

We are in the middle of one of the most exciting times in the history of Robotics and the automation industry. We continue to see explosive growth with 2015 topping 2014 by 15% and establishing a new record in Robot sales worldwide. With the technology advances and industry innovations, Robotics has become more mainstream in small and medium size manufacturers which is allowing them to compete in broader markets. Additionally, human collaboration with Robotics continues to make advancement in traditional markets as well as developing new applications for automation solutions.

Many of the recent breakthroughs in technology were on display at the iREX Show in early December in Tokyo, Japan. The iREX Show enjoyed record attendance with over 120,000 visitors.

With this excitement and growth in the Robotics industry, the IFR is also expanding with some additional associations and manufacturers joining this year. The most recent addition is the newly formed RAR from Russia. We welcome them as well as the other new members joining in 2015.

Sadly, we say goodbye to one of the true giants of our industry. Mr. Joseph Engelberger, the “Father of Robotics,” passed away on December 1, 2015. The industry honors his contributions by awarding the prestigious Joe Engelberger Award each year recognizing other industry contributors that emulate his creativity and leadership. His vision and life’s work will continue to inspire many generations to come.

2016 looks to continue the energy and excitement with multiple events that will have IFR or IFR member associations participation.

Major events in 2016

  • Automatica 2016 (21-24 June 2016), Munich
    • IFR CEO Round Table at Automatica, 22 June 2016
    • ISR 2016 - Robotics in the Area of Digitalization! (21-22 June 2016)
    • Joseph Engelberger Award 2016 (21 June 2016)
    • IERA Award 2016 (21 June 2016)

  • CIROS 2016 (6-9 July 2016), Shanghai
    • IFR-CRIA CEO Round Table at CIROS

  • INNOPROM 2016 (11-14 July 2016), Ekaterinburg


Looking forward to another record year in 2016.

Respectfully

Joe Gemma

Case Studies Industrial

The family company Attl a spol. s.r.o. Továrna na stroje (Machinery Factory) has expanded its product range into automotive segment.

December 2015

Challenges and Needs: For one of the Volkswagen suppliers, the company started to produce stainless steel tubes used in heat exchangers in EGR valves of modern combustion engines for both passenger and commercial vehicles, whose main task is to reduce exhaust emissions.

A new production line was supposed, in accordance with the company’s original plan, to directly produce the final product, however, a test run proved that one more operation is necessary - rounding the edges of the manufactured tubes. In the first phase, the manipulation with the semi-finished product, i.e. inserting the tubes into an edge rounding machine, was carried out manually by human operators, at the same time, however, the company began to intensively seek an automated solution for this monotonous operation.
The initially designed mechanical solution proved to be highly unreliable, therefore a decision was made to purchase a robot. Having no previous experience with industrial robots, the company was offered the opportunity to try an UR5 robot, provided by the Liberec company EXACTEC, the Universal Robots distributor.
“Although our company manufactures and supplies its customers with tools to automate manufacturing, we have not had the opportunity to work with industrial robots before,” says Tomas Attl, sales director at Attl a spol. s.r.o. Továrna na stroje. “Then we had the robot arm from Universal Robots borrowed for a few months, but even after a couple of days it was absolutely clear that the use of light industrial robots is exactly the right direction to follow to modernize our operation in the future.”

Robot Tasks: The task of the three UR5 robot arms, deployed on manufacturing lines of stainless steel for the exhaust gas coolers in EGR valves, is to insert the semi-finished tubes into an edge rounding machine. One operation cycle takes the robot approximately 2 seconds, i.e. 30 tubes are manufactured every minute. All three robots work on average 20 hours a day, 6 days a week.
The reliability level of UR5 robots is very high. During almost two years of operation there was only one single defect in one of the robot arms. The contractor replaced the damaged joint under warranty and in less than 24 hours after the defect was reported. During regular service operations, the robot task is taken over by human operators. The company neither plans nor carries out any extraordinary shutdowns of its robots and it does not keep any spare parts in stock. In this, the company simply proceeds according to the manufacturer’s standard service instructions.

The initial setup of robot arms was performed by EXACTEC programmers; any potential future configuration of robots can be carried out by a trained company technician.
Selected Robots and Parts: 3 × UR5

Implementation and Training: EXACTEC provided Attl a spol. s.r.o. Továrna na stroje with one UR5 robot for several months of testing. Subsequently, EXACTEC has deployed three UR5 robot arms, tested the operation and trained one of the company engineers in operation and configuration of the robot. The gradual training of all employees working with the robot then took place over three days. In total, the implementation of the UR robot arms in the company’s production lines took 4 weeks.

Initially, EXACTEC arranged a demo operation for Attl a spol. s.r.o. Továrna na stroje, during which the cooperation between the robot and the production line was fine-tuned and during which a special gripper for handling the product was prepared. The subsequent implementation of the UR robots was carried out without any problems.
After the implementation, several consultations with EXACTEC specialists took place, however the operation and maintenance of robots had already been taken care of by trained company employees.

“We were pleasantly surprised by how quick and easy was the implementation of UR robots in our production. The robots work within the declared precision tolerance and, except for one minor defect, the operation have been smooth. And our customer is satisfied with the robotic solution as well. In the automotive segment operations, industrial robots are nowadays a standard, expected also from subcontractors,“ says Tomas Attl.
Results & Advantages:
• Three light UR5 robots have replaced human operators in carrying out monotonous manual labour at Attl a spol. s.r.o. Továrna na stroje.
• The robots on the production lines work 20 hours a day, 6 days a week, without any required downtime or service outages.
• Any programming tasks and the regular maintenance of the robots is taken care of by the trained engineer and other company employees.
• The UR Robots have proven to the company its usefulness, efficiency and rapid return on the their acquisition investment. The company owners are now considering deployment of UR robot arms in another 5 workplaces.

Case Studies Industrial

A mobile fleet of Universal Robots will now receive daily work orders to solve ever-changing tasks with high mix - low volume electronics manufacturer Scott Fetzer Electrical Group (SFEG) in Tennessee.

December 2015

The collaborative robots have optimized production by 20 percent, taking over monotonous and potentially hazardous tasks from employees now reallocated to more rewarding jobs.

When the first UR5 robot arrived at Scott Fetzer Electrical Group (SFEG), it was quickly named “Waldo”, inspired by the popular “Where’s Waldo” books featuring a friendly fellow that keeps appearing in new places amongst crowds of people.

“One day Waldo would be bending sheet metal, the next day he would be performing pick and place tasks, and the third day we would take him to Manufacturing Day at the local high school,” says Matthew Bush, Director of Operations at SFEG that manufactures a wide range of electrical motors and components.

The fact that the Universal Robot are re-deployable and can operate with no safety guarding right next to humans is a radical break away from traditional industrial robot that usually stay hardwired behind safety guarding, fenced off from people. The UR robots are a new type of robot classified as collaborative due to their interactive design that makes it easy to set them up for a new task as well as their built-in safety system that enables the robot arm to automatically stop operating if it encounters objects or people in its route.

Traditional robots a challenge

Matthew Bush came across this new automation solution as he was looking for ways to make SFEG more competitive on the global scale, while taking more advantage of existing machinery.

“One of our biggest challenges is we’re a high mix-low volume producer, most of our lines don’t run all the time, so trying to find a way to put robots on the line in the traditional sense was a very big challenge,” says Bush, elaborating on his goal:

“We wanted to build a mobile, flexible robot force. The only way we would accomplish this was with a collaborative robot. We only saw a couple of offerings and the UR robot was the only robot that we thought could do the job. It’s got the speed and precision of a standard industrial robot with the ability to move around and work next to humans.”
SFEG placed the UR robots on pedestals with wheels and is now building the fleet of mobile UR robots deployed throughout the sheet metal department, integrating them in the entire production cycle from cutting the initial blank on the blanking press to forming, folding and final assembly of the electrical components. Additional robots are planned to help tend the turret presses and press brakes.

“We want to have robots standing by, waiting for a job to do. When the staff arrives in the morning, we’ll have work-orders printed for employees to wheel the robots over to the tasks at hand that day.”

The UR robot as a pace setter

General Manager at SFEG, Rob Goldiez explains how productivity and consistency on lines with UR robots improved:

“Before we had the Universal Robots on our transformer line, we averaged about 10 parts per person per hour, that’s up to 12 parts per person per hour now, so about a 20% increase having a pace setter with the Universal Robots working hand in hand with our people.”

The UR robots working the motor field line are a UR5 and a UR10 robot named after their payload in kilos. The UR5 is placed at the end of the line right next to an employee that hands the robot a motor field part. The UR5 picks up the part, puts it in a holder, picks up a wire cutter to trim the wires, and then places the part for the UR10 robot to pick up and place on a conveyor for final assembly.
The two UR robots work in tandem and communicate their position to each other through Modbus socket connections. “We can interlock multiple robots together and read through Modbus the TCP connections and robot status. We can also pass information along to other software packages, and collect data. It opens up a lot of doors to do a lot of things we’re just now beginning to look at,” says Principal Engineer at SFEG, Jamie Cook.

Implementation time reduced up to 50%

Before the UR robots arrived, he was a little “antsy” about the new collaborative technology, having not programmed cage-free robots before. A UR robot comes with a touch screen pendant that all programming is done through. Directing the robot arm can be done either through arrow keys on the screen, or by simply grabbing the robot arm and “teaching” it the desired moves between waypoints. That eliminated the structured text programming Cook usually had to code when working with traditional robots.

“It was really easy to learn and it went much smoother than I anticipated. I did it with minimal training just looking through the operator manual and following the intuitive user interface. I would say it took a third to half of the implementation time out of it based on previous experiences I’ve had.”

Collects data in life cycle testing

One of the new applications now using the UR robots for data collection is in the live testing of new designs, where the small motor manufactured at SFEG is placed in the customer product.

“We then use one of our mobile robots to turn the product’s switch on and off, running it for a minute on, 30 seconds off, for the next 400 hours. It’s a quick way for us to perform life cycle testing. We didn’t have to set up a lot of equipment; the initial program took us only about 5 minutes to create,” says Matt Bush.

The robot collects data pertinent to the test such as max amperage, average amperage and the number of cycles completed and transmits that data to a data storage.

“It’s enabled us to actually engage our customer in the testing as well, they’re excited to see us use new technology to push our design faster into production. It gives us an advantage over our competitors thousands of miles away in low-cost source countries. We’re now winning orders against Chinese competitors and bringing back work that used to be sourced in China as well.”

“Let the robots get carpal tunnel”

As SFEG looked for tasks to automate, eliminating monotonous and potentially dangerous tasks was the number one priority. Another task now handled by the mobile UR robot fleet is filling epoxy into circuit boards.

“In the past, employees would make up a big batch of circuit boards and they would stand there and manually fill them with two-part epoxy and send them down the curing line. Today, the robot does that all day long enabling us to go to a one-piece flow,” says Bush.

“This is an example of an application that would not happen with a stationary robot as we have to move the robot in and out of the cell every day to dismantle the epoxy machine and clean up the cell,” says the Operations Director, who also emphasizes the safety hazards now avoided on the motor field line by having a UR robot handle the wire cutting.
“It’‘s a potential carpal tunnel syndrome application cutting about 16,000 wires a day by hand. So we thought that was a great place to put robots - let them get carpal tunnel!”

Saved by “Thelma and Louise”

The wire cutting UR5 working in tandem with the UR10 has been embraced by the staff that named the new robotic team “Thelma and Louise”. According to Line Lead at SFEG, Sebrina Thompson, the naming arose when personnel first thought the robots were driving them off a cliff.

“When the robots first came out on the floor, employees were very anxious as they thought they would be replaced. But the robots handle a lot of tedious tasks for us now, enabling us to focus on more challenging jobs. My colleagues are constantly trying to find out where we can put the next robots,” says the Line Lead, who also enjoys operating the UR ro

“I was surprised how simple it was. If you can work a smart phone, you can pretty much work these robots.” SFEG has reallocated employees that used to handle tasks taken over by robots to other production areas where the company has seen growth or to fill holes due to natural attrition.

“We’re seeing about 1 to 1 movement of people from where we put in a robot to allow to move person to another area of the business. We have 14 robots from Universal Robots right now and as we have all those implemented, we expect to be able reposition 14 employees. It has allowed us to be much more flexible as a manufacturer,” says General Manager Rob Goldiez.

Next: Robots on armature line and at varnish oven

One of the next robot tasks currently being developed at SFEG is putting c-clips on armatures. At the varnish oven, two UR10s will be loading and unloading baskets with motors. One UR10 is already deployed at the end of the varnish conveyor, working as a simple transfer station, moving baskets between lines.

“The reason we chose to use a UR10 there wasn’t because it was the most effective way to do it. We had an extra UR10 sitting idle; it was very simple to integrate, and it gave us the ability to completely control the conveyor line throughout the day. It saved us money as we didn’t have to go out and spend another nine to twelve thousand dollars on another transfer station,” says Bush who is currently experiencing a payback period between 12 and 14 months on the UR robots.

“We’re looking at everything we’re designing now new to make sure we can assemble it with a robot. If we can’t put that together with a robot, we’ve got to go back to the drawing board and try again.”

The UR robots at SFEG were purchased through distributor Cross Automation covering the South Eastern part of the U.S. where Sales Engineers Karl Bentz is experiencing an increased demand for the collaborative robots.

“We’re seeing a lot of interest from tier one & two automotive suppliers with applications that replace some of the ergonomically unfavorable tasks performed by employees. The medical device industry here is also starting to use this new type of robots for tasks such as laser marking and assembly. As was the case at SFEG, once we sell one UR robot, the customer starts realizing what other tasks they could automate.”

Every day, about 10,000 people turn 65 in the USA. Neurological diseases such as stroke or Parkinson will become more common diseases, unfortunately leading to autonomy losses, hence healthcare system costs` increase. It is a serious subject to handle for our ageing societies in order to find new cheaper, faster and better ways to rehabilitate.

October 1st, 2015 - Rennes (France) - Every day, about 10,000 people turn 65 in the USA. Neurological diseases such as stroke or Parkinson will become more common diseases, unfortunately leading to autonomy losses, hence healthcare system costs` increase. It is a serious subject to handle for our ageing societies in order to find new cheaper, faster and better ways to rehabilitate.
Robotics is a promising solution.

The ROBO-K is a robotic gait training device that makes the patient walks safely and autonomously. By helping the patient to physically walk around, the robot helps the physiotherapist to focus on the patient’s care and motivation. The physiotherapist chooses on different modes how the device helps him to implement the rehabilitation protocol. He can choose to be only present to motivate the patient, or on the contrary to be more active and control the trajectory, provided with the appropriate feedback. In any case, the physiotherapist stays in charge of the rehabilitation process, the robotic device being a help for what is difficult to do, tiring and repetitive (preventing the patient from falling for example).

In the course of last September, the two Robo-K demonstrators have left the premises of BA Healthcare for the Functional Rehabilitation Services of the University Hospital of Rennes for the first one and of Kerpape for the other one.

After three years of work, this delivery marks the beginning of a new phase for the ROBO-K team: clinical trials and acceptability studies. Over a period of five months, this phase led by the CRPCC LAUREPS (psycho-sociology laboratory of Rennes 2) will study how the device fits into the therapeutic process, how practitioners and patients have the new machine in hands… and how it improves their condition.

Both machines made strong impressions on their arrival, arousing curiosity. The first stage consisted in mapping the service, which will enable practitioners to program tracks on which the patient will work by his own. The robot did well, sneaking between the chairs in the corridors. Its holonomic trajectories allow it to pass by the tiniest spaces with much ease and make everybody forgot its large size.

The entire BA Healthcare team waits with much enthusiasm for the first feedbacks of the patients and practitioners.

Brief overview of ROBO-K project

ROBO-K is a 3-year collaborative project, funded under the FUI13 and whose objective is to design, build and test a mobile robot for gait rehabilitation.
Bringing together BA Systèmes, CEA List, the University Hospital of Rennes, the CRPPC/LAUREPS, the CMRRF of Kerpape and MOVEA, this applied research project is intended for patients suffering of walking deficiency from neurological origins (stroke, MS, Parkinson, etc.).

The ROBO-K project is based on the collaboration between user and technical centers organized around a socio-psychological approach to apprehend the issue of robotic rehabilitation under the specific angle of use. The objective of this approach is to think the device as a tool to be implemented into the rehabilitation process and not just as a new technical object to master.
The two realized demonstrators which start an evaluation phase led by the medical partners will enable to validate the relevance of the ROBO-K project´s assumptions.
The partners involved in the Robo-K project:

MIR

Thanks for the offer, but no thanks, was the final answer to several Chinese, European and US investors, who in 2015 became aware of the obvious potential in up-and-coming Danish robot manufacturer Mobile Industrial Robots.

Only a year ago, MiR launched its innovative, flexible, mobile robot MiR100, and in step with MiR’s steep growth where new countries were conquered each month, the company received a growing number of inquiries from potential investors. Public and private foundations also offered their services, and all of them were thoroughly considered. But none came out of the cold.

Instead, the choice fell on a purely Danish team consisting of five private investors, who will invest a total of almost DKK 10 million of their own money in MiR. The sale of MiR robots accelerates much faster than management had dared hope. The intense expansion, employee growth and continued product development require a lot of working capital. Hence, on Friday 11 November at 1 pm, five Danish investors put their signatures on the two-digit million investment.

Management and founder hold the majority

CEO Thomas Visti has chosen to stake a multi-million sum from his own account on MiR. Together with the founder, he still controls more than 50% of the ownership interest. The aim of the capital injection is to ensure that the promising export business has the required growth capital at its disposal to ensure and extend its solid lead in the world market for mobile robots. Competition in the booming global robot industry is intense, and it requires financial muscle to maintain the role as front-runner. But MiR did not go for just any kind of money. It had to be “clever money” from experienced people with deep industry insight, relevant networks and personal commitment to the company. It is rare in Denmark that private investors decide to invest such a large amount out of their own pockets.

“After having been in dialog with a number of large and interesting investors, who each, of course, had their own agendas and wishes for strong influence, I stopped and thought: What is really important to a growth business? To be in control yourself and have freedom to act fast and in time! Consequently, I explored the possibilities among the existing owners, the board of directors and the network around MiR, and here a picture quickly emerged of an obvious, strong team of dedicated Danish investors. As I see it, we now have the required growth capital as well as the right competencies among the board members and owners in relation to where MiR is now. We have not finally decided whether additional investors should be involved at a later time,” says Thomas Visti, CEO.

Designed for modern production

One of the most prominent members of the new investment team is CTO Esben Østergaard, founder of Denmark´s largest robot manufacturer, Universal Robots.

“Esben Østergaard`s trust in Mobile Industrial Robots means a lot to the company. It sends a strong signal to the market that such an innovative entrepreneur can see large opportunities in our technology and product. Mr Østergaard also has very valuable personal experience with the entire process from research to commercialization and construction of a global organization. Mr Østergaard will not become a member of MiR’s board of directors, but invests his high credibility in our business and follows it from the sideline,” says Mr Visti.

Esben Østergaard’s own explanation of his investment is that he sees a considerable market for MiR’s mobile robots, which the industry has also started to integrate with robot arms from Universal Robots.

“MiR100 creates mobility, and this matches very well with general developments in robot technology. The trend goes from large, heavy machines in cages to modern robots that move around on their own and interact with people and help them become more productive,” says Mr Østergaard.

MiR´s founder Niels Jul Jacobsen, who has many years of experience with robot research and development, has already put everything at stake to make the vision behind MiR reality, but he, too, has now chosen to inject further capital.

“I do it, because I can. The explosive and positive development that MiR has undergone in 2015 means that the potential for our mobile robots is even clearer, and consequently, it is only natural that I continue to invest in the building of MiR. In this connection, I’m happy that we’ve been able to involve two new private investors, who can also contribute positively to MiR via their own knowledge,” Mr Jul Jakobsen establishes.

Torben Frigaard Rasmussen, who was recently hand-picked as the new chairman of MiR´s board of directors, is one of the two new investors mentioned by Mr Jul Jakobsen. Mr Frigaard Rasmussen has previously been involved in companies such as E-soft, Worldticket, Umbraco and E-conomics.

“I think that MiR can take part in the large transition of tasks that are moved back from the East and the general trend of more automation in all industries. At the same time, the Internet of Things is growing massively and will lead to many solutions based on close cooperation between humans and machines, of which mobile robots will obviously also form part. In addition, MiR is made up of a very competent and experienced team, Mr Frigaard Rasmussen explains.

Third investment from investor

As early as in fall 2014, business angel Søren Michael Juul Jørgensen injected a large amount into MiR, and since then his belief in the potential of MiR has only grown. Now he chooses to reinvest.

“To me, the investment is an absolutely natural part of a process that started when I joined the board about two years ago. The investment is my third within a relatively short period of time, where the company has seen dramatic growth. I`m pleased that Torben Frigaard Rasmussen and Esben Østergaard can also see the potential in MiR, and I welcome them as owners,” says Mr Juul Jørgensen, who has built a successful business from scratch and made it a growth success, namely Microflex.

All else being equal, MiR could have raised even higher amounts from other types of investors than private ones, but in CEO Thomas Visti’s eyes, it is not necessarily an advantage to swim in large amounts of capital as an entrepreneur.

“In Denmark, we`re used to modest circumstances. It actually helps us become extremely focused and specific when we develop products and new growth businesses,” Mr Visti says.
According to plan, MiR is to start being profitable from 2017 when sales are expected to reach DKK 50 million.

Case Studies Service

Hospital-acquired infections (HAI) results in over 3,000 deaths annually and costs for DKK 1.2 billion for the Danish healthcare system.

Odense, Denmark - 7 July 2015

Because of this, the Danish Market Development Fund and a partnership of Danish hospitals (Sygehuspartnerskabet) have entered a 2-year co-development project with Blue Ocean Robotics with the purpose of developing and testing a disinfection robot for hospitals.

UV-Sterilizer-Robot uses an innovative UVC-light technology to break down bacteria on surfaces. In particular, the robot should contribute to reducing the spread of infections in patient rooms and adjacent bathrooms, as hospital-acquired infections (HAI) are a major and growing problem for the healthcare system - and give rise to significant costs for hospitals, partly because of extra days in bed, readmissions, deaths, etc.

UV-Sterilizer-Robot has an autonomous driving system, allowing it to position itself so that the bacteria degrading UVC light focuses on specific “infection hotspots” such as sinks, patient bed, handles etc. The robot concept was developed with the ambition of a user-friendly and flexible disinfection tool for the healthcare sector. The robot requires virtually no human interaction and therefore have a minimal impact on the workflow of the hospital staff.

The development project originated as part of the PCP (Pre-Commercial Procurement) tender, which the Danish Market Development Fund (Markedsmodningsfonden) and a partnership of Danish hospitals (Sygehuspartnerskabet) offered in August 2014 regarding development of innovative solutions to reduce the spread of infections in patient rooms. In the first phase of the development work, the Department of Clinical Microbiology, by Hans Jørn Kolmos, Cleaning & Patient Services, by Carsten Holmer, and Department of Clinical Microbiology, Jens Otto Jarløv, respectively from Odense University Hospital and Herlev Hospital have actively participated.

“The robot will save lives! UV-Sterilizer-Robot is to improve and simplify the way we currently disinfect patient rooms. And by letting the robot support the cleaning, we aim to reduce the number of hospital-acquired infections, sick leave and - not least - the number of deaths as a result of infections acquired during hospitalization. OUH and Clinical Microbiology department by Hans Jørn Kolmos has all along participated in and supported the development process of UV-Sterilizer-Robot, and will continue to assist Blue Ocean Robotics and Sygehuspartnerskabet with clinical expertise.” Peder Jest, Director at Odense University Hospital

“UV-Sterilizer-Robot is a good example of the potential that new robot technologies give rise for, in combination with already known technologies in regards to solving challenging problems.”
“The robot has the potential to provide a positive operational economy (short payback time) if a hospital purchases 5 units of UV-Sterilizer-Robots after only 4-5 months.”
“UV-Sterilizer-Robot has a national and international commercial potential in the healthcare sector - and we expect to be able to disseminate and commercialize the solution immediately after project completion.” Rune K. Larsen, Partner & Director at Blue Ocean Robotics

Case Studies Industrial

It was a first appearance as a “New Talent” at the DMY International Design Festival Berlin 2015 not only for Israeli-born art student Jon McTaggart, but also for a MOTOMAN handling robot.

December 2015

With the support of YASKAWA, the innovative designer uses the robot as a 3D printer, enabling him to create complex shapes from a variety of materials.

Under the title “Artifacts”, McTaggart consciously explores the dichotomy between the uniqueness of a work of art and the possibilities of technical reproduction. The result consists, for example, of shells and other geometrical shapes which are based on digital designs and made of individual materials. The designer focuses primarily on sand and earth, which to him represent a specific place at a specific point in time.

In his search for a technically feasible solution for shaping the sand and fixing it in the desired form, McTaggart first of all experimented with different 3D printers. However, they were unable to cope with the heavy material. The solution finally proved to be a MOTOMAN MH250 from YASKAWA. From his point of view the combination of highest precision and flexibility with a high load-bearing capacity spoke in favour of this model. A small MOTOMAN MH6-10 was used for demo purposes in Berlin.

A dosage system positioned on the robot manipulator injects a food-safe adhesive into the sand mass exactly at the predetermined points. The young artist programs the in part highly complex geometries using commercially available 3D software. The data is transmitted to the robot control via an interface.

Case Studies Industrial

Valk Welding has delivered two similar robot configurations for the automation of the welding and glueing process of Picanol, one of the world’s largest weaving machine manufacturers.

December 2015

According to Senior Buyer & Manufacturing Manager Geert Tanghe, it was mainly based on the Valk Welding technical know-how and flexible approach that Picanol now has a flexible welding robot system and a highly innovative robot solution for the automation of the gluing process supplied by Valk Welding.

Picanol was looking for a robot integrator for the automation of its glueing and welding system. In an extremely lean & mean and highly automated production system the welding was still carried out partially manually, and the transport rollers were still glued entirely by hand. Geert Tanghe: “Until recently glueing was a traditional process that was in sharp contrast to the rest of the production process. We wanted to introduce a new glueing procedure and improve quality by automating the process. For the welding of the construction parts and the transport rollers we were looking to partially replace and extend the existing welding robot. Valk Welding is a well-known name in the region, also at the suppliers of our plate and sub-components. We asked Valk Welding and a couple of other robot integrators to offer us a turnkey solution to our problem.”

2 Robot systems on an H-frame

The design of the robot configuration delivered by Valk Welding for the robotised welding of transport rollers and traverses (stabiliser tubes) with dimensions of 1.5 to 5.6 metres in length corresponds to the configuration for glueing. Both systems consist of a robot on an H-frame (fixed torsion frame with positioners on 1 top side and 2 adjustable counter bearings) in a special design. Both robots are Panasonic TA-1400 models.

Welding robot system

In the welding robot system supplied by Valk Welding a Panasonic TA-1400 welding robot moves on an integrated 6m track to weld the tubes and transport rollers in lengths up to 5.6m on 2 jig stations. The positioners on both sides have a fixed position and are equipped with adjustable counter bearings. That makes it possible to weld both the smallest and the largest lengths of the transport rollers and stability tubes just on one single system. Valk Welding also saw to the development and delivery of the welding jigs and the programming of the welding robot for the 2 types and 15 different lengths.

Glueing robot system

Geert Tanghe: “In our weaving machines the woven material is guided to the output side by 3 transport rollers. These have to be covered with rough textiles to obtain the necessary grip.” Delta Application Technics, which specialises in the design and production of application and dosing systems for liquid and paste products, was asked to develop a solution to apply the glue precisely and automatically to the metal transport rollers in such a way that the glue was spread evenly. “Integrating the dosing system in the same automated system of Valk Welding made it possible to make do with virtually the same robot system, which was a big advantage in terms of maintenance and usage. All that needed to be done was to replace the welding torch with a glue dispenser.”

Case Studies Industrial

The ALNEA-ZEUS control system for the selective soldering of parts makes use of KUKA KR AGILUS robots

December 2015

Warsaw-based ALNEA Sp. z.o.o. designs and manufactures semi- and fully-automatic mechanical, electrical and pneumatic production and testing devices for specific customer requirements. The Polish company has specialized in the selective soldering process. The ALNEA-ZEUS controller developed some years ago by ALNEA was meanwhile in need of a major update to ensure that it could continue to meet the standards set in the future by the international association of the printed circuit and electronics industries (IPC). The new version of the soldering controller had to be able to access all process parameters, such as the provision of relevant materials for the soldering process, their exact positioning and the prevention of solder spatter outside the work area. ALNEA implemented the new development in close cooperation with KUKA Robotics in Augsburg. Using a KUKA KR AGILUS robot, it was possible to achieve considerable improvement in the precision of the soldering process, eliminate error sources and reduce the production time by 50 percent.
The soldering process used in so-called through-hole technology (THT) requires the utmost precision. The variable parameters, such as flux quantity, pre-heating time and temperature, wetting time or solder temperature, have a decisive influence on the quality. Furthermore, material-related influences must also be taken into consideration. The small structures and the close proximity of components that must not be wetted leave no room for error. With THT, repair processes are time- and cost-intensive, often not reproducible and in some cases not even allowed. The goal of the electronics industry is thus the zero-error process. “A reliably controlled selective soldering process is the decisive first step on the path to zero-error production for our customers,” says Krzysztof Kamiński, President of the Board of ALNEA Sp. Z.o.o.

Avoidance of errors by means of process monitoring and correction

One major cause of errors in the selective soldering process is solder bridges. These occur in lead-free soldering, for example, due to the lower weight of the solder alloy or insufficient application of flux. All associated process steps should thus be monitored reliably. Incorrectly or imprecisely positioned modules can also cause problems in the selective soldering process. Monitoring and possible correction of their positions is also of decisive importance. For these reasons, in addition to the further development of the controller, it was also necessary for ALNEA to install a robot that could perform the soldering operation and precisely position the components. “Only a modern robot can guarantee the precision required for this soldering process,” emphasizes Kamiński. When searching for the suitable model, ALNEA opted to work together with KUKA. “What swung it for us was the favorable price/performance ratio and the excellent technical support from the KUKA team,” explains the President. Moreover, the KUKA KR C4 controller also met ALNEA’s requirement that the process had to be controlled via a simple teach pendant. The open architecture of this controller supports effortless technical integration into existing machine environments.

Small, fast and precise: the KUKA KR 6 R900 sixx

ALNEA decided in favor of a KR 6 R900 sixx robot from the KR AGILUS series as a prototype. The outstanding characteristics of this series include extremely high speeds combined with high repeatability and precision. Thanks to their symmetrical design, KR AGILUS robots take full advantage of their work envelope. To enable their extremely streamlined contours for operation in confined spaces, KUKA has routed the energy supply system internally. The KR 6 R900 sixx not only guarantees utmost precision and high working speed in a space-saving design, with a payload of just 6 kg and a maximum reach of 900 mm, the robot also achieves a repeatability of < =0.03 mm and is thus ideally suited to the requirements of the soldering process. Essentially, however, other KUKA robot models can also be combined with the new ALNEA-ZEUS control system in addition to the KR 6 R900 sixx.

Commands directly via the teach pendant

“During integration of the robotic automation solution, the communication between the soldering controller and the robot controller had to be coordinated,” explains Kamiński, recalling one of the challenges. For this, a software package for controlling the parameters of the selective soldering process was loaded, in a manner of speaking, into the robot’s memory. In this way, ALNEA’s customers can control the robot directly in the production process using the KUKA smartPAD teach pendant. Commands are transferred to the ALNEA-ZEUS controller via Ethernet communication. The controller then executes the command on the basis of the customer-specific hardware and software. The solution dispenses with a PLC or HMI panel and requires no additional interfaces.

The result: 50 percent shorter process time and minimization of errors

The KUKA KR 6 R900 sixx precisely meets the requirements placed on it by the selective soldering process. It controls the motions of the soldering iron and also holds the board in a fixed position. Thanks to the robotic automation solution developed by ALNEA, all parameters of the selective soldering process can now be monitored reliably via the teach pendant. Furthermore, all data provided by the KUKA robot are fed into the system and used. This includes, among other things, monitoring of the feeding and positioning of components and controlling of other external equipment. This has led not only to a noticeable reduction of errors, but also to a significant increase in productivity. “With the new solution, we have shortened the process time by 50 percent,” stresses Kamiński. Thanks to the ability to monitor the process via the teach pendant, the training requirements for customer employees are also kept to a modest level. There is no more need to engage three different people: process, robots and controllers specialists. Now, after a short training, even the direct worker can manage the process and the soldering robot.



Under the lead of the Tübingen-based Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics (MPI), Fraunhofer IPA has co-developed a new cable-driven parallel robot that is the first one capable of transporting humans while at the same time setting new standards in terms of workspace, acceleration and payload for a motion simulator. The scientists have thus succeeded in decisively advancing a technology previously used for automation solutions in the field of intralogistics.

Under the lead of the Tübingen-based Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics (MPI), Fraunhofer IPA has co-developed a new cable-driven parallel robot that is the first one capable of transporting humans while at the same time setting new standards in terms of workspace, acceleration and payload for a motion simulator. The scientists have thus succeeded in decisively advancing a technology previously used for automation solutions in the field of intralogistics.

To date, cable-driven parallel robots have been used in production environments, where they meet high requirements. The systems surpass conventional industrial robots in size and payload by between one and two orders of magnitude. The end effector can be freely moved with high accuracy by up to eight cables and winches. Based on this technology and in a world first, the idea of a cable-driven motion simulator has now been realized under the lead of Professor Heinrich Bülthoff from MPI for Biological Cybernetics.

Technical innovations

In the cable-driven simulator, the motion of the simulator cabin is controlled by eight unsupported steel cables attached to winches. In contrast to conventional motion simulators, the use of cables makes it possible to reduce the moving mass and to scale the workspace to any required size. A total drive power of 348 kW allows the cabin to accelerate at 1.5 times gravitational acceleration along freely programmable paths inside a 5 x 8 x 4 m³ workspace. In addition, the cables can be reattached in under an hour to enable the simulator to be adapted to different cabins and thus used for a range of scenarios.

During the two-year collaboration between both Institutes, Philipp Miermeister, a member of Fraunhofer IPA´s Cable-driven Robotics working group headed by Junior Professor Andreas Pott, has contributed much know-how to driving forward the design and realization of the simulator. The scientists have not only implemented the control algorithms, but also developed a lightweight yet rugged carbon fibre cabin capable of withstanding the high dynamic loads during operation. Made entirely from carbon fibre tubes, the cabin frame maximizes the usable cabin volume with a diameter of 260 cm for projection surfaces and cockpit instrumentation. This allows it to be used for high-quality video projections and realistic operator interfaces. At the same time, the light 80 kg frame is capable of accelerating at high speed while also withstanding high forces, because, in operation, the cables pull on the outer structure with up to 1.5 tonnes.

Its large workspace and dynamic capabilities make the simulator suitable for a wide spectrum of VR (virtual reality) applications, including driving/flight simulation as well as investigation of basic perception processes in humans. "This simulator offers us entirely new possibilities for studying motion perception with possible applications in neurological research into balance disorders," says Professor Bülthoff, who is a long-time perception researcher.

Successful collaboration

There is a history of collaboration between the Fraunhofer and Max Planck Institutes. Eleven joint projects are currently in progress. "With the cable-driven simulator, the scientists from both Institutes have once again demonstrated how the combination of basic research and industry-oriented technology development can lead to innovative products," says Professor Thomas Bauernhansl, Institute Director at Fraunhofer IPA.

The duAro robot has been released in Asia. The Americas and Europe product launches are scheduled for June 2016, to allow for safety requirements for collaborative operation with humans in those marketplaces to have been met. Until then, the duAro robot can be operated in conformance with local robot safety standards and regulations including safety fence.

New Robot Offering for the Manufacturing of Products with Short Life Cycles

The duAro robot has been released in Asia. The Americas and Europe product launches are scheduled for June 2016, to allow for safety requirements for collaborative operation with humans in those marketplaces to have been met. Until then, the duAro robot can be operated in conformance with local robot safety standards and regulations including safety fence.

Kawasaki Robotics has announced that it has launched the "duAro" -an innovative & new, dual-arm SCARA robot that can coexist with humans in the workplace.

Industrial robots have been developed and intended mainly for mass production involving long product life cycles. However, in fields where new models are introduced frequently at intervals of a few months, automation is considered difficult despite demand for robotization, in terms of both preparation period and cost-effectiveness. Today, Kawasaki offers a brand-new robot that is applicable to such fields.

The new "duAro" robot’s area of motion is the same as that of a person, with motions similar to those of human arms and independent movements for each arm, made possible because of its dual-arm configuration. Through our consistent pursuit of ease of use, we integrated two articulated arms that move simply in the horizontal direction, and we introduced direct teaching functionality into the robot´s configuration, resulting in a robot that’s both easy to teach and practical. With the integration of the body and controller into the wheeled base, the robot is quite easy to install and relocate.

The robot has two arms that reach horizontally from the body and that move together as a pair. This configuration can easily perform operations similar to those of a person using both arms within a one-person space. Equipped with a collision detection function and a safety function that slows down its motion when near a person, the robot can be reliably operated in tandem with the operations of workers adjacent to the machine.

The name of the dual-arm robot, "duAro", is a combination of two English words-dual and robot. With this name, we intend to highlight the concept of a dual-arm machine that can provide users with a sense of reliability, security, and approachability.

1. Features

  • Saves space (fits into a single-person area)
While the arrangement of two conventional SCARA robots occupies a relatively large space, the "duAro" robot, integrating two coaxial arms and a controller into a single unit, occupies only a single-person space. Additionally, its coaxial dual-arm structure makes the two arms less prone to interfere with each other, making it possible to perform coordinated movement, which has not been possible in the case of using two SCARA robots.
  • Ease of introduction
The wheeled base on which the arms are mounted accommodates the controller, making it easy to move and install the robot at any location. Its dual-arm operations also make it easy to support operations without jigs or to replace it with other robots and/or people. This enables the user to launch systems more quickly than conventional systems, which often take excessive time when changing production lines, as well as to quickly respond to restarts after an emergency stop.
  • Coexistence with people in the workplace
Low-power motors and a deceleration function linked with an area-monitoring enable the "duAro" to coexist with people during work operations. The "duAro" also comes with numerous safety functions, including a collision detection function that instantaneously stops the robot´s movement in response to a possible person-robot collision.
  • Ease in teaching operation
Products with short life cycles entail frequent changes of programs and teaching, heightening the hurdle of robotics introduction. We thus adopted a simple horizontally articulated structure and direct teaching functionality to simplify teaching as much as possible. Anyone can perform the teaching movements easily.
  • Various options
In addition to direct teaching, teaching operations can be conveyed via tablet or teaching pendant. Also, multiple robots can be configured with a single terminal. A "duAro" robot can also be equipped with a vision system. A standard grippers option is also available, allowing the user to customize the specification of the arms, including the arm length and the number of rotating axes, in order to configure the arms in a way that fits with various necessary operations. In the future, the "duAro" will support clean specifications and a single-arm configuration, covering a wide range of applications.

2. Main Specifications

Series name : duAro
Robot name : duAro 1
Model name : WD002N
Arm type : Horizontal articulated
Degree of free movement : 4 axes x 2 (Max. 6 axes x 2)
Standard reach : 760 mm
Max payload : 2 kg/arm
Repeatability : ±0.05 mm

South Korea-based Yujin Robot, a leader in delivering robotic solutions, unveiled GoCart V2.0, the 2nd version of GoCart, the autonomous meal-transport robot designed to operate in all elderly and health care facilities.

Seoul, Korea, October 28, 2015 - South Korea-based Yujin Robot (KOSDAQ: 056080), a leader in delivering robotic solutions, unveiled GoCart V2.0 (http://gocart.yujinrobot.com/), the 2nd version of GoCart, the autonomous meal-transport robot designed to operate in all elderly and health care facilities.

Based on the feedback received during trade show participations and demonstrations in Germany, USA and Sweden last year, Yujin Robot’s Innovation Team moved forward developing a larger and stronger GoCart version to better meet their customers’ needs.

With this new GoCart V2.0 the Innovation Team travelled to Spain in order to conduct a field test during September 10 - 23, 2015. The field test has been carried out at Ave Maria Foundation, a care facility for people with intellectual disabilities located in Sitges, in conjunction with Robotnik Automation S.L.L. and the Robotics Institute for Dependency.

During the field test the team worked closely with the staff and managers at Ave Maria to find out the facilitys needs in meal, linen and other daily logistics and developed service scenarios to save time, cut costs and further improve the care of the residents. In addition, Yujin Robot and Ave Maria hosted a successful demonstration for local visitors from the city of Sitges and representatives from hospital, hotel and business associations.

The feedback from managers and staff at Ave Maria was very positive and they expressed their strong interest in adopting the GoCart system in their facility. Yujin Robot and Ave Maria agreed to collaborate further on the commercialization of GoCart system. Robotnik Automation worked closely with Yujin Robot and Ave Maria on system integration and will continuously provide professional technical service in EU region.

GoCart combines the latest autonomous navigation and mobility technologies developed by Yujin Robot with state-of the-art meal-transport systems developed by ScanBox. GoCart has unprecedented flexibility and ease of use. It maps the environment and uses an array of sensors and cameras to autonomously carry out its deliveries without interfering with people or other objects. With its IoT-based interface, GoCart easily connects with any facility’s existing IT system including elevators and automatic doors and works with smartphones, tablets, PCs, and smart TVs.




Blue Ocean Robotics announced the release of a standard solution for 3D bin picking of small industrial parts. The Mini-Picker bin picking solution is available with the Universal Robots UR5 collaborative robot.

A standard solution based on collaborative robot and proven 3D vision technology

Cincinnati, OH - November 11, 2015 - Blue Ocean Robotics announced the release of a standard solution for 3D bin picking of small industrial parts.

The Mini-Picker bin picking solution is available with the Universal Robots UR5 collaborative robot. A robot that leads the industry in ROI and ease of deployment and re-deployment as production needs change. The system is well-suited for machine loading of small parts. Automating the loading and unloading of machines results in increased production rates and increased machine utilization (or OEE). The system will be available with additional robot brands to cover a wider range of parts soon.
"We are pleased to announce the release of the Mini-Picker solution. The core technology is based on work from world leading bin-picking company Scape Technologies with over 25 systems running in production, many of them in the automotive industry." says Tim DeRosett, co-founder and CEO of Blue Ocean Robotics, LLC. "This system greatly reduces the complexity and cost of deploying robots for industrial bin-picking applications."

About Blue Ocean Robotics ApS

Founded in 2013, Blue Ocean Robotics ApS, is a leading provider of emerging robotic solutions and services to improve quality-of-life, working environments and productivity - for humans.

RIA old

A total of 22,427 robots valued at $1.3 billion were ordered from North American companies in the first nine months of 2015, an increase of six percent in units and nine percent in dollars over the same period in 2014, which held the previous record.

Robot orders and shipments in North America set new records in the first nine months of 2015, according to Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group.

Robot shipments to North American customers through September totaled 21,436 robots valued at $1.2 billion, breaking the previous record set in 2014 by 16% in units and 10% in dollars.

Sales activity continued to be strong in both automotive and non-automotive industries. Automotive related orders were up six percent through September, while orders to non-automotive industries such as electronics, food & consumer goods, and metals increased five percent over 2014.

“Demand for robots is at an all-time high, and companies of all sizes, in all sectors of the economy, are realizing the benefits of automation,” said Jeff Burnstein, President of RIA. “Robots are optimizing production more than ever, increasing global competitiveness, and performing dull, dirty and dangerous tasks that enable companies to create higher-skilled, better-paying, and safer jobs for their employees.”

“Even with the record sales of robots, the unemployment rate in the U.S. continues to be at its lowest rate of 5.1% since 2008,” added Alex Shikany, RIA Director of Market Analysis. “This data confirms what is detailed in our recent white paper ‘Robots Fuel the Next Wave of U.S. Productivity and Job Growth’ which illustrates how increasing use of robots is associated with increased employment.”

RIA estimates that some 236,000 robots are now at use in United States factories, placing the US second only to Japan in robot use.

The Association for Advancing Automation (A3) published a white paper entitled "Robots Fuel the Next Wave of U.S. Productivity and Job Growth" in which data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and a wide range of manufacturing firms document how and why increasing the use of robots is associated with increased employment.

5 October 2015

The Association for Advancing Automation (A3) published a white paper entitled "Robots Fuel the Next Wave of U.S. Productivity and Job Growth"

in which data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and a wide range of manufacturing firms document how and why increasing the use of robots is associated with increased employment.
Key statistics from the A3 white paper show that during the non-recessionary periods - 1996-2000, 2002-2007, and 2010-2014 - general employment and robot shipments both increased. Since 2010, the robotics industry in the United States has grown substantially. Even during this period of record-breaking robot sales, U.S. employment increased. This new data is in stark contrast to media coverage and a perception that increasing use of robots causes higher rates of unemployment in the U.S.
"We are seeing concrete shifts in the factors that resulted in cuts to the U.S. manufacturing work force over the past few decades," said Jeff Burnstein, president of A3. "Manufacturing automation increasingly provides the flexibility in the variety of tasks robots perform to drive improvements in overall product quality and time to market."
Burnstein concluded, "One of the biggest challenges we now face is closing the skills gap to fill jobs. Robots are optimizing production more than ever, increasing global competitiveness, and performing dull, dirty and dangerous tasks that enable companies to create higher-skilled, better-paying, and safer jobs where people use their brains, not their brawn."
As companies seek to bring manufacturing operations stateside while remaining cost-competitive, they continue to turn to automation to help lead the new wave of productivity and job growth in the U.S.
"The whole premise for our company is to bring manufacturing back to this country, and our new robot fits perfectly with that master plan," said Geoff Escalette, CEO of faucet-maker RSS Manufacturing & Phylrich in Costa Mesa, California. "Our robot not only makes it possible to increase production speed without buying additional CNC machines, but also helped us open up 30 percent more capacity on existing machinery."
Robotics also helps companies stay competitive when seeking new talent - particularly those who are interested in long-lasting careers working with technology. "It’s really an opportunity for us to grow," reports Matt Tyler, president and CEO of Vickers Engineering, a contract precision engineering manufacturer in Michigan. "Because we have robotics and are able to compete on a global scale, it makes the U.S. more competitive in manufacturing, and that’s good for all of us."
To download the white paper, please visit our

website

.

IFR Press Releases

By 2018 global sales of industrial robots will on average grow year on year by 15 percent - the numbers of units sold will double to around 400,000 units. Five major markets representing 70 percent of the total sales volume: China, Japan, USA, South Korea and Germany.

“The main driver of this development is the global competition of industrial production. The automation witnessed by the automotive sector and the electrical/electronics industry comes out top here with a market share of 64 percent”, says Arturo Baroncelli, President of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).

Within this context, the rapid automation in China represents a unique development in the history of robotics. The number of industrial robots sold increased by 56 percent alone last year in comparison to 2013. China is the largest and fastest growing robotics market in the world. The potential remains enormous despite the recent economic downturn. After all Chinese production industries currently have a robotic density of just 36 units per 10,000 employees. To compare: As the front-runner South Korea deploys 478 industrial robots per 10,000 employees followed by Japan (315 units) and Germany (292 units). It is estimated that more than one-in-three of the global supply of industrial robots will be installed in the Republic of China in 2018.

The statistics on robotic density likewise indicate huge opportunities for growth in the USA. Production industries there deploy just 164 industrial robots per 10,000 employees right now. The USA is currently automating its economy at high speed. The aim is to strengthen the country as an industrial centre and to retrieve outsourced production. In 2014 the number of installed robots increased by 11 percent to around 26,000 units - making it third in the world.

In Europe it is Germany that takes the lead by some distance. Within one year (2014) the sales figures increased by around 10 percent to about 20,100 units - to date the largest number of sales registered within twelve months. Despite the already very high robotic density existing there, the world’s fifth largest robotics market remains on a path of expansion - driven primarily by the automotive industry.

Global investments made by the automotive industry in industrial robots have increased significantly since 2010. 2014 was a new record year with about 100,000 newly installed robots - up 43 percent compared to the previous year. This boom has been fuelled by new production capacities in emerging markets and a wave of modernisation sweeping through established auto-making countries. A large proportion of robotics technology in 2014 was purchased by suppliers of electronic components to the automotive industry. These include battery manufacturers and car IT enterprises.

In 2014 the electrical/electronics sector likewise posted a new record - sales increased by 34 percent compared to the previous year. The strong demand for industrial robots in the production of consumer electronics, communication equipment as well as computer and medical technology adds up to a total global market share of 21 percent.

The wave of digital transformation and automation will continue to drive the triumphant march of industrial robots onwards up to 2018. “Industry 4.0” projects mean that human-robot teams, for example, are on the cusp of a break-through. Simplification of the use of robots will additionally open up the market for new applications. This is equally true of small and medium-sized companies as it is for large corporations in all sectors. Besides the automotive and electronics industries, this development is also being increasingly felt in the metal processing, plastics, food and packaging industries.

“The market volume available to industrial robots is enormous. Including supporting services we estimate the global market value to be 32 billion US dollars for 2014”, sums up IFR President Baroncelli.

IFR Press Releases

By 2018 global sales of privately used service robots will increase to around 35 million units. At 25 million units, domestic robots (vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, window cleaners etc.) will be right at the top of the future shopping lists of private customers.

Estimated sales value - upwards of 12 billion US dollars (2015-2018). Added to that there are around nine million entertainment- and leisure robots with an estimated volume of 7.6 billion US dollars (2015-2018).

At the same time service robots for professional use boom. The biggest markets in this segment are defence, agriculture and logistics. It is anticipated that by 2018 a total of over 150,000 units will be sold at a total value of around 20 billion US dollars. So says the 2015 World Robot Statistics, published by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).

“In 2014 the demand for service robots rose yet again, posting impressive rates of growth”, says Martin Hägele, Chairman of IFR’s Service Robot Group and author of the study. “The sale of domestic robots for private customers increased by 28 percent to three million units at the last count - a second consecutive year-on-year increase. In 2014 sales of entertainment robots registered a 40 percent increase compared to the previous year, while sales of professional service robots registered solid growth at 11.5 percent.”

Future market for private robotic assistants

With household and garden robotic assistants already an established field in the private sector, another major market of tomorrow is for robotic assistants used in the care of the elderly and the disabled. Background: With one eye on the ageing population, many countries have initiated research projects aimed at using hi-tech robots to assist older people and those with limited mobility. Manufacturers sold 4,416 units of these kinds of robotic assistants in 2014 (2013: 699). The trend in this segment therefore continues to be a positive one. Sales showed a 542-percent year-on-year increase - even if partly based on a higher number of registration figures.

Service robots for professional applications

24,200 units of service robots for professional applications were sold in 2014 (2013: 21,700). Broken down into market shares, some 45 percent of this number is attributable to defence systems. Within this business area the sales of unmanned air systems make up a total of 82 percent of the volume. The sales figures rose by 7 percent in 2014.
Alongside this, the agricultural sector accounted for around one-quarter of all orders for professional service robots. The total number of field robots sold in 2014 amounted to 5,700 units, representing a market value of just about one billion US dollars and growth in sales of twelve percent. The number of milking robots sales rose to 5,180 units in 2014 - eight percent up on the previous year.

Logistics systems likewise continued on a path of success during the previous year. Around 2,700 systems were installed in 2014 - representing a rate of growth of 27 percent compared to 2013. The manufacturing sector alone purchased 2,100 automatic guided vehicles.

In 2014 sales of medical robots fell by 5 percent to 1,224 units in comparison to the previous year. The most significant area of application is robot-assisted surgical and treatment systems (978 units). At an average price of one million US dollars including auxiliary services, these service robots constitute the most expense price segment. With sales valued in the region of 1.3 billion US dollars, medical robots account for 35 percent of the total value of service robots for professional applications. By way of financing options, manufacturers are therefore also offering their customers leasing models.

The exoskeleton market has likewise developed strongly over a short period. With 273 systems sold in 2014 (2013: 160), the rate of growth came in at 80 percent, meaning that very good forecasts can be expected in the coming years. Initially developed primarily for military purposes, these body-worn systems are undergoing rapid further development for applications relating to the rehabilitation or assistance of people with restricted mobility. The first body-worn lifting aids deployed in the professional sphere are being used to provide power assistance and facilitate ergonomic working even for physically demanding tasks. In this context exoskeletons can deliver full-body power assistance or be designed to assist certain body parts only.

Start-ups are focussing on the service robot market

Alongside providing actual numbers for various products, the IFR analyses also reveal that of all the enterprises engaged in the service robot market 15 percent are start-ups, i.e. technology-driven firms less than five years old. This underscores the market potential that entrepreneurs and investors have identified in the continuously growing field of robotics.
Finally it should be mentioned that the statistical data for service robots represents a conservative estimate, because the sales figures used were either stated by the companies themselves or taken directly from them.

IFR Press Releases

Today, the IFR has published World Robotics 2015 and the impressive forecast of global robot installations between 2015 and 2018. By 2018, annual sales of industrial robots will reach 400,000 units.

Dear Reader,

Today, the IFR has published World Robotics 2015 and the impressive forecast of global robot installations between 2015 and 2018. By 2018, annual sales of industrial robots will reach 400,000 units. This is almost twice as much as the sales volume in 2014. The main driver of this development is the global competition of industrial production. Within this context, the rapid automation in China represents a unique development in the history of robotics. The number of industrial robots sold increased by 56 percent alone last year in comparison to 2013. China is the largest and fastest growing robotics market in the world. The potential remains enormous despite the recent economic downturn. By 2018, more than one-in-three of the global supply of industrial robots will be installed in the Republic of China. In July, the Chinese robot exhibition CIROS 2015 demonstrated the increasing strength of Chinese robot suppliers. But also international robot suppliers have set up more production facilities, and have expand their service platform in China.

Breathtaking advancements and innovative technological developments in industrial manufacturing will guarantee a continued substantial increase of robot installations, not only in China. One of these innovations is the human-robot collaboration. It will have a breakthrough in the coming years. The vision is that industrial robots support workers in a variety of tasks, improve manufacturing quality and processes, and increase productivity. They can also assist an aging workforce, e.g. in physically demanding tasks. This enables people to keep their jobs and remain in the workforce. It will also take some pressure off the negative effects of demographic shifts.

The International Symposium on Robotics, the ISR 2016, from 21-22 June 2016 at the Automatica in Munich will be an excellent opportunity to learn more about technological innovations in the robotics industry. The topic of the symposium will be: Robotics in the area of digitalization. The Call for Papers has just been published.

From 2-5 December, we will meet at the iREX 2015 in Tokyo. The theme is “RT - Making a Future with Robots”, symbolizing the hope that robot technology will advance in leaps & bounds and play a major role in our future. During the exhibit, robot technology and products from both Japan and countries across the globe will be on display and will be a place which offers even more technical interaction and business discussions.

Best regards

Arturo Baroncelli
IFR President

Tesla, Amazon, Apple and Universal Robots. Every year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology lists the 50 most innovative companies in the world under the title "50 Smartest Companies". For the first time, Universal Robots has moved into the ranking at number 25 this year, overtaking large companies such as Phillipps and IBM or its competitor Rethink Robotics.

From zero to 25! MIT Technology Review awards Universal Robots for innovative automation

Tesla, Amazon, Apple and Universal Robots. Every year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology lists the 50 most innovative companies in the world under the title "50 Smartest Companies". For the first time, Universal Robots has moved into the ranking at number 25 this year, overtaking large companies such as Phillipps and IBM or its competitor Rethink Robotics. In order to qualify for a ranking in the MIT Technology Review, a company must have impressed the judges with a particularly ambitious and innovative business model as well as the corresponding technology within the last 12 months.
Universal Robots is a pioneer in the field of lightweight robotics and man-robot collaboration. The company is synonymous with six-axis robot arms which are flexible and can be deployed across all sectors of industry. These lightweight robots which can be operated intuitively are enabling not only large enterprises but also small and mid-sized companies to make automated processes and interaction between man and machine part of their day-to-day production. "Operating the robots is so easy to learn that any employee can do it after a short training without any prior knowledge of programing", explains Dieter Pletscher, Area Sales Manager for GAS at Universal Robots. "The robots can take over repetitive and ergonomically unfavorable tasks, thus enabling employees to do focus on other activities."
With this concept, Universal Robots has succeeded in developing an attractive automation solution, even for companies which have hitherto regarded automation as unaffordable, time-consuming and difficult to integrate.

Case Studies Industrial

A New Zealand outdoor lighting manufacturer has invested in robotic technology to ensure it stays ahead of the competition curve.

September 2015

Established in 1988, Betacom Limited designs, manufactures and assembles a range of road, area and tunnel lighting products which are sold throughout New Zealand and Australia.

The company’ s 3,500 square metre manufacturing and product design facility in Christchurch applies many technologies to ensure the highest quality product is delivered to its customers.

However, Betacom wanted to increase its automation capabilities so they sought out the advice and counsel of project engineering group, Design Energy.
To assist in finding an affordable and flexible solution, the team at Design Energy quickly resolved to apply a UR10 robot which is developed and manufactured by Universal Robots, a leader in the new industrial collaborative robotics market.

The UR10 was deployed to take over specialised production line tasks and support higher volume manufacturing runs. The enhanced automation enabled Betacom to service new high volume jobs with unparalleled precision due to increased orders for its new range of LED road lighting products from city councils throughout the country.

Quality assurance

One of the major factors in Betacom’ s decision to deploy the UR10 robot was its ability to deliver a quality product.
Using a multi-head vacuum gripper the UR10 picks a circuit board from a rack and positions it on an aluminium pressing. The robot then picks six LED lenses and locates them onto the circuit board. The final step is to pick up a pneumatic screwdriver with auto feed screws and fasten the lenses and circuit board to the aluminium pressing.

Given the lenses need to be positioned in different orientations to ensure the best spread of light, Betacom was very focused on ensuring no mistakes were made during the production process to guarantee the delivery of a high functioning product. Another benefit is that both the LEDs and lenses are not touched by human hands ensuring minimum contamination.

According to Mike Shatford of Design Energy, the UR10 met Betacom’ s needs because quite simply it doesn’ t make mistakes.

“Universal Robots’ technology has revolutionised the manufacturing process, especially for products that require speedy, precise and consistent movements between waypoints. The UR10 removes the risk of missing a screw, ensures good thermal contact between the LED board and the base plate and guarantees the correct positioning of the lenses. The result is a consistently uniform product output each and every time.”

A clean environment

One of the major elements in the new production regime for the manufacture of street lights is the need for a “clean environment”.

The aluminium plate assembly was a highly repetitive, tedious but very precise process; particularly when it came to the handling of the LED lenses.

Betacom wanted a hands-off approach to placing the LED lenses in place because if they were touched by human hands and were left covered in finger prints the product performance may be affected.

“The use of the UR robot meant Betacom could automate the production process while maintaining the clean environment needed because it requires minimum human intervention,” said Shatford.

Ease of use

The ease of programming and the fact that the UR10 is a collaborative robot were also compelling factors in the purchase decision for Betacom. Many other industrial robots that could have been applied to the Betacom production line were much more complex and required coding knowledge.

Shatford comments that the Betacom decision was also based on the fact that following the necessary risk assessments, the UR10 did not require safety shields which meant their staff could work side-by-side with the robot in a collaborative and safe way.

The level of complexity in the robotic technology was approachable for Betacom; they could see their workers being able to easily program and operate the robot. I think it was the user friendliness that really appealed to them as well as its safety features.

“Betacom had not applied robotics of this kind to its manufacturing process before. They own a sheet metal shop where they use automated stamping and punching devices, but they hadn’ t deployed robotics technology before,” said Shatford.

“They understood that automation was the best option for this process and the UR10 enabled us to create an automated solution at a price point which made sense.”

Unique application

Design Energy was engaged to map out and develop the process which allows the robot to assemble the necessary components onto the PCB. The production process is unique in its application so it required their expertise from the very beginning to ensure the deployment went as smoothly as possible.

“It’ s not as simple as sell them the robot, deliver it to the manufacturing facility, and then flick the switch. Our role is much more involved than that and we work closely with our customers to ensure the robot is adding the value that it should be,” said Shatford.

“The Betacom deployment is currently in the early stages however we are very confident that it will provide a strong ROI and lay the foundation for future business development.”

Final thoughts

Betacom has significantly improved its automation capacity with the deployment of the UR10 and is now able to meet differing customer needs thanks to the flexibility and precision of Universal Robots technology.

Case Studies Industrial

If you can automate the loading of products onto machining equipment, that must also be possible for the welding production.

September 2015

Valk Welding realized one piece flow production at Marel Stork

That was the underlying idea when Valk Welding, working in partnership with Marel Stork Poultry Processing, developed a production cell in which the handling and logistics surrounding the welding robot are automated. The result is a welding production cell that produces completely continuously, is entirely designed for one piece flow production and yields a substantial saving in manpower.

Marel Stork Poultry Processing had the drive to always be the first to adopt new production technology. The company became involved in welding robotisation at an early stage, and in 1996 was one of the first users of Panasonic’s offline programming system DTPS. This was also Valk Welding’s first customer for a welding robot with the Arc-Eye laser sensor.

Full confidence in the supplier

Industrial Engineer André Kouwenberg: “When it comes to welding Valk Welding and Panasonic incorporate a lot of our feedback in later versions. That open approach and the short lines of communication have resulted in our gaining a lot of confidence in Valk Welding’s people over the past 25 years, which is why we were willing to take on the development of the new production cell. There are probably other system integrators that are able to do this, but Valk Welding is increasingly raising its profile in this market with its specific knowledge of welding matters.”

One piece flow

André Kouwenberg: “Now we produce as little as possible in batches, but will instead place the entire process from laser cutting, welding and milling in a single flow. If for example we need 20 components, we won’t wait until all 20 are ready but will send each completed product straight to the milling department. That actually amounts to working according to the Quick Response Manufacturing principle, which we have ‘borrowed’ from car manufacturers. Each part has to be processed directly without creating any dead time and the delivery times are kept as short as possible.”

Handling robot operates welding robot with 2 workstations

In the new production cell parts are clamped onto pallet carriers and stored in one of the 58 pallet positions in the warehouse. When a part is to be welded a handling robot (Panasonic HS-165) collects the pallet in question from the warehouse and mounts it on one of the two workstations of the Panasonic welding robot. While the welding robot is welding the component, the next pallet is changed on the other workstation. As soon as a pallet has been welded with one or more components, the handling robot places it back in the warehouse. “The cell contains 58 jig carriers with a total of 240 different jigs. By creating the right combinations between fast and slow movers you achieve the right production balance to maintain a continuous workflow, explains André Kouwenberg.

Software determines production

The software determines which part is to be welded first. The software advises the operator rather than the other way around. The operator can however interrupt the system if the workflow for a simple part has to be stopped. For that purpose there is a third workstation at the front of the cell where the operator can insert and take out a component himself. Without that option the system would be too rigid and you would run the risk of the assembly having to wait needlessly for a single part. The software was written entirely by Valk Welding’s software engineers.

André Kouwenberg: “With the latest robot technology and logistics automation we will be able to move forward efficiently and flexibly for another 10 years.”

Case Studies Industrial

A1 Towing Ltd , a leading manufacturer and supplier of aftermarket Towbar systems recently invested in a Panasonic TAWERS robot welding system

September 2015

Mark Terry the CEO of A1 Towing Ltd, selected the single source solution from Panasonic after undertaking suitability evaluations including detailed welding tests. Once satisfied that the robot welder would provide dramatically improved production efficiency with greatly reduced spatter levels and improved weld quality, it then became necessary to develop the system concept to overcome the primary obstacles in the business to using automated welding.

Mark Terry’s overview is “Our production schedules are based upon customer demands with the ability to respond quickly to individual requests, as such we have a low volume batch manufacturing system with a product range of hundreds of variants, with additional new products being added continuously during the year.” The combination of these three requirements traditionally makes the use of automated robot equipment difficult to implement efficiently. Panasonic has succeeded by an innovative system design, which allows a fast and precise applications change to meet the requirements for the production concept of A1 Towing. The Panasonic PerformArc welding cell was equipped with a TM-1400 robot. Two independent established workstations ensure the efficient, speedy loading and unloading of components. With two high-speed roll-up doors, this process is also supported.

The system was installed in January 2015 and after just a few months the robot is now a very important part of our manufacturing process. “We have successfully migrated 45% of our production onto the robot cell” says Mark Terry and adds furthermore that compared to a typically manual welding cycle which takes over 20 minutes could be reduced to a 5 minutes robot cycle.

“Our role is to find solutions to our customers welding problems! We offer a comprehensive range of cost effective solutions that can be matched to the exact requirements of our clients.” says John Hopper, UK Sales Director for Panasonic Robot & Welding. “By working with Mark and the team at A1Towing we were able to provide a complete flexible package that best suited their production requirements and existing skills, providing a fully integrated package of hardware, training and after sales support. Our team is focused on supporting them in the future to ensure they optimize their investment for the long term.”

Scientists at Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA are developing a new assembly automation process that makes industrial robots significantly easier and faster to program, as well as a collaborative and safe assembly workstation for riveting applications.

September 2015
Scientists at Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA are developing a new assembly automation process that makes industrial robots significantly easier and faster to program, as well as a collaborative and safe assembly workstation for riveting applications.
The programming and positioning of a robot system for assembly tasks is highly complex. Not least for those reasons, many assembly tasks continue to be executed manually, especially in the case of small production runs or custom-made components.
Now used for the first time for industrial processes, a method from the field of robotics research makes it possible for assembly tasks to be automated more efficiently than before. For this purpose, the programmer first models the process and workpiece/process parameters, such as the workpiece dimensions, in a general form so that the assembly task is available as a sequence of process modules. Next, the programmer assigns variant-specific values. Based on these values and using current sensor data of the relevant workpiece, the system can execute the process modules as a sequence of tasks, similarly to an easy-to-follow work plan. End users benefit from the fact that, once modelled, tasks can be transferred to other systems.
The need to program task variants as well as the setup effort for small production runs are extensively eliminated. Together with the experts from Fraunhofer IPA, system integrators can automate challenging assembly tasks more easily, faster and at lower cost than before.
The scientists are also developing a workstation for joining processes, at which a human can manually execute difficult tasks while a robot system takes care of repetitive, strenuous tasks. The system is integrated into a mobile tool cart and can be docked with the manual workstation when required. This allows the assembly tasks to be optimally shared according to ergonomic and economic criteria.

Codian Robotics develops Delta Pick & Place Robots for the packaging industry with a focus on the pharmaceutical and food industries. Codian Robotics is a flexible and customer-oriented partner for OEM companies. By enabling our expertise, our customers can fully focus on building and selling their products.

September 2015
Codian Robotics develops Delta Pick & Place Robots for the packaging industry with a focus on the pharmaceutical and food industries. Codian Robotics is a flexible and customer-oriented partner for OEM companies. By enabling our expertise, our customers can fully focus on building and selling their products.
The Codian Robotics robots are ideal for fast top loading processes. The Codian Robotics robots have an open platform and utilize the machine’s integrated operating system. This means there is always real time information available and it is saving on time and costs.
The Codian Robotics robots are robust, lightweight and fast. Because the robots are mounted in the machine frame, they have no footprint. Codian Robotics offers the world’s largest assortment delta pick & place robots. We deliver standardized customization and also offer you the best solution. The distinctive market approach and quality of Codian Robotics result in a minimal Total Cost of Ownership.
Codian Robotics has all the necessary disciplines in-house to remain on the market demand, both in terms of development and in terms of production. Our main office is based in The Netherlands and in the USA and PR China are also offices of Codian Robotics, with which we are globally represented and accessed.
The employees of Codian Robotics are highly motivated to contribute to developments in the pick & place industry. They are well attuned and accustomed to sharing knowledge and expertise.
Flexibility is a must in our push for the best possible solution in terms of delta robots. With this setting, we can offer our customers actually deliver the most ideal Delta Robot for customer-specific production. Our enthusiastic and satisfied customers are proof of that.
Codian Robotics has developed an IP69K approved hygienic robot with an open platform for servo motors and control systems. This D4 HD IP96K Delta Robot consists of titanium, stainless steel 316 L, sanitary plastic and ViwateQ finishing. The fully enclosed system for gearboxes, servo motors and cables allows you to clean the robots with heated water under high pressure.
The total cost of ownership will be low because of the low maintenance needs, the easy access and the integration in the machines operating system. Even cleaning can be done very fast for the smooth seamless rounded surface.
The Codian Robotics D4 HD IP69K delta robot has an optimal hygienic form, cavity free and with recognizable sloping rounded surfaces, without any bolts on the outside of the body. All the materials of our 100% hygienic robot are approved by the FDA.

AGVs - Automated Guided Vehicles - are the backbone of today's material handling industry. The AGV market is experiencing tremendous growth, supporting the sector with high-tech along the entire value chain. Indeed, the AGV market is expected to total more than 2B$ by 2020 and to reach 10B$ by 2030.

AGVs - Automated Guided Vehicles - are the backbone of today’s material handling industry. The AGV market is experiencing tremendous growth, supporting the sector with high-tech along the entire value chain. Indeed, the AGV market is expected to total more than 2B$ by 2020 and to reach 10B$ by 2030.
Global technology supplier in this field is BlueBotics SA of St-Sulpice, Switzerland. It focuses on innovative navigation with its ANT® product. This Autonomous Navigation Technology is at the heart of AGVs in logistics and new applications in service robotics. BlueBotics’ crew helps customers integrate the proven ANT® product into their vehicles or develops new applications with high added value together with new customers entering the market. Current examples include Esartoll with the Paquito forklift for transportation of pallets from palletizer to stock buffer, or Cleanfix with its RA 660 Navi cleaning robot for hospitals, hotels and shopping centers. The latter is equipped with ANT® lite for efficient and economical cleaning. Oppent is scoring successes with EVOcartTM, the new hospital vehicle featuring ANT® server, BlueBotics’ complete fleet management software, which is easily integrated into a hospital’s infrastructure. Last but not least, Stöcklin Logistik AG offers innovative logistic solutions meeting the highest requirements. It is therefore relying on BlueBotics for its first AGV, which integrates ANT® lite+ and a point-to-point functionality to ensure simple and extremely competitive pallet logistics.
With the expansion of its worldwide activities, which extend to countries like Canada, Korea, Turkey and the USA, BlueBotics is continuing to look for creative partners interested in the effective ANT® navigation product. In view of this growth, CEO Nicola Tomatis decided to move to larger facilities: "We now have sufficient space to continue creating considerable added-value for our customers so that they can successfully position themselves in the global markets. If you need a proven navigation solution or have an interesting mobile robotics idea to realize, please do not hesitate to contact us!"

Adept Technology has introduced a new parallel robot, the Hornet 565. Featuring high-speed pick and place capabilities, the Hornet 565 offers ease of deployment and advanced performance ideal for packaging applications.

September 2015
Adept Technology, Inc. has introduced a new parallel robot, the Hornet 565. Featuring high-speed pick and place capabilities, the Hornet 565 offers ease of deployment and advanced performance ideal for packaging applications. Adept will introduce the Hornet 565 in Europe at its Fachpack 2015 tradeshow booth, 3-359, in Nürnberg September 29 - October 1.
"Adept has designed the Hornet 565 to increase our customers’ packaging throughput while reducing their costs," said Yan Banducci, senior product line manager of Industrial Robots at Adept. "The Hornet 565 is a key addition to Adept’s total packaging solution - a portfolio of advanced robotics, high-speed conveyor tracking, powerful vision guidance and easy-to-use application software."
Key characteristics of the Hornet 565 include:

  • Industry-leading price/performance
  • As compared to competitive robots
    • 25% faster
    • 25% larger workspace
    • 50% lighter
    • 50% less footprint
  • 3kg (6.6 lb) payload capacity
  • Controller-less architecture
  • Hygienic design and corrosion-resistant materials that minimize contamination risk and allow easy wash down

Hornet 565 offers fast, precise pick and place capabilities and industry-leading conveyor tracking. To allow easy system deployment, the Hornet 565 system comes with Adept ACE software, an integrated, point-and-click development environment for Adept’s entire product portfolio of robots and controls. Options include the Adept SmartVision MX platform for machine vision and guidance, and ACE PackXpert software for deploying complete packaging automation solutions.

Case Studies Service

The gains of automating internal goods transport with a MiR100 robot have been very tangible at Elos Medtech, where staff used to walk an average of 7.5 kilometers a day, pushing goods on a cart between departments.

September 2015

Now, the mobile MiR100 robot ensures a good flow through production, eliminating downtime and latency.

Elos Medtech Pinol in Gørløse, Denmark, is one of Europe’s leading development and production partners for medical technology products and components. In recent years, this industry has been in a global elimination process where increasing demands for quality, process documentation and product consistency force customers to use fewer suppliers. Elos Medtech Pinol is one of the companies that customers have selected and it is largely due to 8-10 years of targeted optimization, standardization and automation. The automated factory is a mantra used within the company involving all employees. There have been ambitious investments in new user-friendly and flexible production equipment and the latest automation technology, including a mobile robot MiR100 from Mobile Industrial Robots. - A new transportation technology that initially puzzled the employees:

“When we first got our mobile robot it was fun - but also a little weird. - What is this thing doing here? - And how will it do it? But as it started moving around the factory from A to Z, it enabled a much better and faster flow in our material delivery. Before, we tended to collect things in big piles, but now we get a steady stream of deliveries,” says Majbritt Breiling, quality control employee at Elos Medtech Pinol.

MiR100 runs continuously in a fixed route within the company. On an annual basis, the robot logs 1,650 kilometers at Elos. The operation hours amount to a half full-time employee position now freed up to perform tasks other than internal transport:
“Staff members, that normally had to transport the goods for further processing in other departments, can now place them on MiR100 when it passes on its bus route. This means they can avoid downtime and interruptions and continue processing the goods in their own department,” says Per Hansen, developer at Elos.

A wave of automation has flown into the industry worldwide in recent years, even in countries with lower labor costs than Denmark, a challenge that Elos is now ready for, although automating work processes in a company that produces more than 3,000 different item numbers in batches down to 100 units is not always simple.

Elos’ results however speak for themselves: The order book is growing, earnings increased steeply and the growth continues; in just two years, the company has almost halved its average order lead time, with now only 16 days from production start to delivery. In 2012, the lead time was 30 days, in 2013 was 21 days.

In the past two years, the staff has “only” grown from 116 to 145 employees. Elos has succeeded in “growing out of the risk” of having to terminate employees as a result of automation investments; the new jobs have been created within the highly specialized manual assembly, in R&D and in administration.

“We want to grow without adding more people than what is actually dictated by growth. Automation is a strategic focus area and our investment budget is increasingly allocated more automation and not just machinery. Whenever we invest in new equipment, it is now a requirement that it is a more automated solution than the one we already have. The objective is to reduce the amount of repetitive work and to strengthen the quality assurance of our products,” says Head of R&D, Henrik Andersen.

Facts & Figures:
Factory Area: 8,000 square meters.
Benefits gained with the mobile robot

MiR100: A half full-time employee has
been freed up for other tasks.

List price MiR100: 160,000 DKK
/21,500 euros/ 24,000 USD

About Elos Medtech Pinol:

Elos Medtech Pinol produces implants

for teeth and tools for implementing

these. 75 percent of sales happen on

global markets outside Denmark. Elos

Medtech Pinol in Gørløse which

employs 145 people, is the Danish

subsidiary of one of Europe’s leading

development and production partners

in medical technology, Elos Medtech

Group. The Group, headquartered in

Sweden with a subsidiary in China,

has a significant global market

position within this industry.


Case Studies Industrial / Work Impossible for Humans

NEUE HALBERG-GUSS was in search of an automated solution for the complete assembly of crankcase core packages.

September 2015

They decided to use a large number of KUKA robot in one system: 25 machines from the Augsburg-based robot and system builder perform all assembly steps fully automatically with utmost precision.

With 2250 employees at sites in Saarbrücken and Leipzig, NEUE HALBERG-GUSS GmbH produces and develops cylinder crankcases, cylinder heads for industrial motors made of cast iron and cast crank shafts. The company is a European market leader and technological pioneer. The product range extends from delicate three-cylinder blocks for cars to large-volume V8 units for commercial vehicles. Other products include bearing tunnels made of ductile cast iron and bedplates made of aluminum. Customers include renowned automotive and commercial vehicle manufacturers such as Volkswagen, Daimler, BMW, Audi, MAN, Scania and Iveco.

The company’s Saarbrücken plant was in search of an automated solution for the complete assembly of crankcase core packages. NEUE HALBERG-GUSS decided to use a large number of KUKA robot in one system: 25 machines from the Augsburg-based robot and system builder perform all assembly steps fully automatically with utmost precision. The core packages are prepared in parallel by two systems - in other words, by a total of 50 robots.

The KUKA robot orchestra

“As a development partner with experience and expertise, we accompany our customers from product idea to series production readiness. Designing core packages in such a way that they can be assembled fully automatically poses a particular challenge,” explains Peter Koch, project manager at NEUE HALBERG-GUSS. Here, robot-based automation offers the best solution in terms of flexibility, productivity and quality. For the assembly of crankcase core packages, a maximum of three different robot sizes were to be used. These had to be ideally suited to the special conditions in a foundry environment and also to allow a particularly space-saving and compact cell concept. Thanks to the company’s comprehensive robot portfolio, KUKA was able to offer the optimal solution for both the wide variety of work steps and the interaction of the individual robots. “The KUKA models we chose were the KR 300 R2500 ultra F from the KR QUANTEC series as well as the KR AGILUS small robot series and the KR 5 arc,” explains Mr. Koch. At NEUE HALBERG-GUSS, the 25 robots now work together like an orchestra in perfect harmony. A total of twelve KR 300 R2500 ultra F, eleven KR 5 arc and two KR 6 R900 sixx robots have been assembling crankcase core packages fully automatically since 2013.

25 KUKA guarantee a fully automated and highly
accurated assembly process

The different types of robots harmonize like an orchestra.


Ideal interplay in the concert of assembly

The first robots in the assembly process are the KR QUANTEC Foundry robots. They first remove the complete set of cores - consisting of water jacket, balance shafts, channel cores, water pump core, thermostat core, wheel core, crankcase cores and a sole core - from the core shooting machine and set these on turntables no. 1 and no. 2. These tables then rotate 180 degrees to the smaller KR 5 arc robots. During the subsequent part assembly and deburring “concert”, the flexible KR 5 arc and KR AGILUS robots come into action - positioned overhead, side-mounted on a pedestal and upright. They deburr and assemble the thermostat core and drill holes in the water pump with the utmost precision - and then in the wheel and crankcase, in the water jacket core and in the crank and sole core. Once both turntables have turned back to the original position, three further KUKA robots from the KR QUANTEC series pick up the individual cores and set them down on turntable no. 3 for partial assembly. After another 180-degree turn, two further KR 300 robots set down the completely assembled package. The next robot removes the package and moves it below the stationary screw-fastening station.

Two KUKA KR 300 robots guarantee perfect
cycle times in the refractory dressing
The robots work close together during the assembly process


Following screw fastening, the six-axis robot sets it down on turntable no. 4, which then rotates the assembled package towards the washing cell. Once there, a KR 300 picks up the package and immerses it in the wash. By pivoting and rotating the package, it ensures that the wash is applied evenly and then leaves the package to drip. Since the washing process takes 90 seconds, and is thus longer than the entire assembly of the core packages (60 seconds), two washing robots are used simultaneously so as to guarantee ideal cycle times. The washed package is then set back down on the turntable and once again rotated 90 degrees towards a manual inspection station. Following approval by the worker, the last robot in the ensemble picks up the core packages and sets them down on a rack with eight slots. Once all of these are filled with wet, washed core packages, the racks are transferred into the drying oven before finding their place among the finished products in the high-bay warehouse.

Harmonious combination of robot types

With the KR300 R2500 ultra F robots, NEUE HALBERG-GUSS has opted for veritable foundry experts. The robots of the QUANTEC ultra product family are characterized by high payload capacity combined with maximum performance and the most streamlined design on the market. Their ideal area of use is the handling of heavy workpieces and high-accuracy machining. In the foundry design, the robots have an impact-resistant, corrosion-protected foundry wrist, which is resistant to both acids and alkalis. It is also protected against dust and dirt and able to withstand temperatures of up to 180 °C for short periods. The KR 5 arc robot and the KR AGILUS stand out in the assembly process thanks to their outstanding precision, flexibility and speed. At the same time, the robot variants from the small robot segment and the low payload range allow particularly space-saving installation in the compact cell concept.

A further ensemble of eleven robots already in the planning stage

“The robot-based system has led to a 50 percent increase in both productivity and quality,” concludes Mr. Koch. Today, each system of this robot orchestra assembles around 400 core packages per shift. In addition, production costs have been significantly reduced. The robot-based automation solution also guarantees the Saarbrücken-based company a consistently high quality for the assembled crankcase core packages. The systems can assemble two different types of core packages without the need for a gripper change. All that is required is a special change of program.
NEUE HALBERG-GUSS GmbH and its employees are very pleased with the solution: “Thanks to the positive experience, we are planning a further system with a somewhat smaller ensemble of eleven KUKA robots,” states Mr. Koch, providing a glimpse into the future. The robots are to be used for unloading, deburring, assembling and washing here as well.

Work Impossible for Humans

The first FANUC M410iC/185 universal palletising robot has been installed in the UK at pulse processor Askew & Barrett.

September 2015

The first FANUC M410iC/185 universal palletising robot has been installed in the UK at pulse processor Askew & Barrett, where it has helped to boost productivity by 15-20% and eliminated a potential health and safety risk factor by automating a manual palletising operation. Askew & Barrett sources pulses from key agricultural merchants and then sorts, cleans and grades them at its processing plant in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. The pulses are bagged into 12.5kg and 25kg paper sacks and 25kg woven polypropylene (WPP) sacks, before being palletised and transported to food manufacturers and retailers at home and abroad.

Prior to investing in the new generation FANUC palletising robot, Askew & Barrett used manpower to stack the sacks onto pallets. The problem was that in order to keep up with demand, during busy periods Askew & Barrett was having to operate the line 24 hours a day, six days a week. Although the working day was split into either two 12 hour or three eight hour shifts, this was still physically demanding work, and the company didn’t want to continue exposing its staff to that level of manual handling.

“It takes it out of you, standing at the end of the line, stacking sacks onto a pallet. We wanted to take steps to ensure the physical wellbeing of our employees,” says production and warehouse manager Chris Askew. Askew & Barrett engaged Pacepacker Services, FANUC’s palletising integrator, to design a fully automated packing and palletising line that would reduce manual handling and increase productivity. For the palletising element, Pacepacker specified FANUC’s new M410iC/185, the first of a new generation of Japanese-engineered palletising robots that combines FANUC’s proven 99.99% reliability record with tangible improvements in performance, allowing users across a range of industries to palletise heavier loads faster and stack pallets higher. FANUC recommended this model on account of its high cycling speed - the robot is capable of 1700 cycles per minute - and its 185g payload. This combination results in heightened productivity and more efficient palletising of heavy payloads.

“In designing the M410iC/185, FANUC’s engineers have harnessed the latest advancements in servo motors and drives to design a robot arm that is quite simply best in its class on every front: speed, payload, energy-efficiency and reach. We have absolute confidence that this robot will continue to exceed Askew & Barrett’s performance expectations and prove completely reliable for years to come,” said Paul Wilkinson, business development manager at Pacepacker Services.

The robot was installed in a dual cell configuration for maximum performance, and it is here that the M410iC/185’s compact 610 x 806mm footprint and extended reach capabilities come into play. In a dual cell configuration, the robot is sited so that it can swivel between two individually accessible pallet loading positions. This means that as soon as the robot has finished palletising a stack, it starts to palletise on the other pallet in the cell.

“This is an extremely time-efficient configuration as the robot is always in use - it can start loading a new pallet while the full pallet is being transported to the delivery area. The M410iC/185 is ideal for dual cell installations owing to is small footprint and its reach of 2.4m - higher than any other robot in the same class - which enables it to service two cells effortlessly,” explained FANUC UK technical manager Darren Whittall.

The M410iC/185, which was installed in February this year, has increased palletising speed to 10 bags per minute, and has enabled the company to reduce the working week from six days to five without laying anyone off - staff have been redeployed to less physical tasks. Chris also reports that bags are now stacked more consistently onto pallets allowing for much “safer storage within our warehouse and easier loading into containers”.

Case Studies Industrial

RA Labone, a plastics injection moulding manufacturer, wanted to increase the efficiency and production output of its tyre pressure sensor manufacturing process in order to meet the demands of its blue chip customers.

September 2015

The challenge

A transformation was required for the whole end-to-end manufacturing process, including moulding, continuity testing, cooling, decay testing, and packaging.

The solution

RNA, a leading automation integrator, partnered with FANUC UK, the world’s largest robotics and automation solutions provider, to produce a fully automated system for manufacturing, testing and packaging. Two FANUC M10iA robots were integrated into the automated system, which includes the following steps:

  1. Two types of component parts (Insert and Antenna) are fed and orientated via two vibratory bowls and linear feed systems.
  2. The components are fed into two independent precession shuttle mechanisms so that the Insert and Antenna are always in a known repeatable and accurate positional location
  3. A FANUC M10iA robot is used with a double gripper mechanism to pick four inserts and four antenna from their locations
  4. The inserts and antennas are placed in the correct orientation within the four-cavity moulding tool
  5. An Arburg 1200T vertical moulding machine with a two position rotary index table is used to simultaneously load insert and antennas while the moulding process takes place
  6. On completion of moulding, the two position rotary index table actuates and presents an open mould tool to a second FANUC M10iA robot
  7. Mouldings are taken through a decay test cycle through a specially developed cooling system based on a rotary table and cooling fans
  8. The mouldings are placed on a leak decay test station
  9. Mouldings are fed into and out of an automated packing area with an escapement mechanism
  10. An empty box is filled with tested mouldings and is transferred to the out-feed conveyor system

Following the installation of the automated system at the RA Labone plant, FANUC and RNA deployed engineers to educate employees around how to programme the automated system.

Benefits

The automated solution provides a fully integrated and compact system increasing productivity, ensuring consistent product quality, reducing costs and minimising waste. The system also increases precision, speed and accuracy when placing the inserts and antennas into the moulding tool. Reliability of positioning components is also ensured by high precision and accuracy of the handling processes.

The automated cooling system improves the cooling time, guaranteeing integrity of moulding, continuity and leak decay test stations identifying good and bad mouldings.

Outcomes

Manufacturing efficiency and output have been increased as a result of the automated system, with the ability to deploy a 24 hour production cycle if required. A suite of new components can also be applied to develop the system to perform additional tasks.

Alan Edmonds, head of technical sales, RNA said: “We chose FANUC due to the speed and accuracy of the FANUC robot and as part of a recommendation from RA Labone who already use FANUC’s products and services. The automated system has completely transformed production capabilities for RA Labone and we have had further requests for future projects off the back of this success.”

RIA old

The North American robotics market is off to its fastest start ever in 2015, according to new statistics released from Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group.

A record 14,232 robots, valued at $840 million were ordered from North American robotics companies in the first half of 2015, an increase of one percent in units and seven percent in revenue over the same period in 2014, which held the previous record.

“We’re encouraged by the continued strength in the North American robotics market,” said Jeff Burnstein, President of RIA. “The interest in robotics remains strong not just in North America, but all over the world, as companies recognize that robots can help them improve productivity, product quality, and flexibility.”

In the first half of 2015, sales of all types of robots continued to grow in a number of key industrial segments. Semiconductors (30%), automotive components (23%), and life sciences (eight percent) increased strongly over the first half of last year. In contrast, orders to automotive OEMs cooled in the first six months, down 18% from record high performance in the first half of 2014.

The market’s best start to the year has also been realized in key robot application segments like coating/dispensing and material handling. “Robots ordered for use in coating/dispensing and material handling applications grew 36% and 27% respectively through June,” said Alex Shikany, RIA’s Director of Market Analysis. “Material handling is the largest category we measure and touches many important industries to the robotics market. It’s encouraging to see such strong growth in this segment.” Shikany added that the notable increase in material handling applications can be traced, to some degree, to the growth in non-automotive industries such as semiconductors/electronics, life sciences, and others. RIA estimates that some 232,000 robots are now at use in United States factories, placing the US second only to Japan in robot use.

MIR / Case Studies Service

Every day, a user-friendly mobile robot automates many kilometers of travel in the production of fireplaces and wood stoves at the company Scan A/S in Vissenbjerg on Funen.

Juli 2015

It relieves the employees, who have been particularly welcoming of their new flexible “rolling colleague.”

Since 1978, Scan has worked to design and produce exclusive wood stoves that are effective, attractive and environmentally friendly as heat sources. But an equally important reason for the company’s ranking among the top 10 in the industry globally is that the management has always been quick to invest in innovative production technology. Scan, therefore, quickly became aware of the innovative, mobile robot MiR100 and asked Mobile Industrial Robots to demonstrate its possibilities.

The Challenge

“It is costly when internal transport costs man-hours. It challenges a company like ours, because we are based in a country with high labor costs. Automation of internal transport is therefore an obvious way for us to improve throughput and boost our competitiveness. We have approximately 10,000 square meters of working area, and we move items from one end of the factory to the other. Before we got MiR100, an employee had to push the trolley from place to place. But of course it is problematic to use highly paid, manual labor for that type of task. Moreover, it is boring and monotonous work,” explains René Hannibaldsen, Production Manager at Scan A/S.

The Solution

The MiR100 robot at Scan now makes 10 to 12 daily trips with deliveries of bolts, screws and other parts for assembling the stoves. Scan produces 14,000 stoves on an annual basis.

“Our new mobile robot can find its own way around between 5-6 addresses in the factory, where it delivers goods from our goods reception to the production area. In fact, you could compare our MiR robot to a mailman, driving around in the area handing out mail, and then driving back to the post office to collect new packages and drive off again to deliver them,” says Hannibaldsen.

The Result

Traditionally, the deployment of robots in a production process has been an expensive, time-consuming and cumbersome process. But not with MiR100.

“We save about half of a full-time position by automating this process. But we expect to achieve further gains from the investment in the long term, as we have several other tasks in mind that we expect MiR100 can solve for us. The MiR robot is so affordable and easy to program that it can be implemented quickly and it therefore recoups the investment quickly. Here at Scan, the MiR100 has paid for itself in less than a year” concludes the production manager.

The ability to carry up to 300 kg of goods at a time by using the MiR robot with a towing hitch is also a clear advantage that Scan plans to exploit.

“It was important for us to introduce this type of robot into our production processes and to accustom our employees to having robots moving about around us, as well as forklifts and other rolling equipment. Naturally, we were a little skeptical at first, because it has to move about among walking staff and forklifts with goods, but there have never been any collisions. It moves smoothly around all obstacles. And all the employees think that MiR100 is fun, so the robot has generally been well received,” says Hannibaldsen.

Roboteco S.p.A., the Italian distributor of Panasonic arc welding robot, won the Sho-Yo-Kai gold medal as the world best Panasonic System Integrator. Award ceremony took place in Tokyo on May 20th, 2015 during the annual "Global Excellent Partner Meeting", gathering for three days the best 15 worldwide distributors of Japanese Panasonic Welding System Company.

July 2015
Roboteco S.p.A., the Italian distributor of Panasonic arc welding robot, won the Sho-Yo-Kai gold medal as the world best Panasonic System Integrator.
Award ceremony took place in Tokyo on May 20th, 2015 during the annual "Global Excellent Partner Meeting", gathering for three days the best 15 worldwide distributors of Japanese Panasonic Welding System Company. Behind Roboteco, silver medal has been assigned to US and South Korea Distributors.
Sho-Yo-Kai prize belongs to the very ancient Japanese tradition and is awards both sales target and technical achievements on the installed arc welding systems by Roboteco. Roboteco is Panasonic partner since 1991 and is 100% focused on arc welding turn-key solutions with more than 1,200 robots installed in Italy, Europe and Americas, both in General Industry and Automotive field.

Case Studies Industrial

Two arms, a charming smile and natural ingredients: that is the secret of success of the Slovenian start-up “AlpStories”.

July 2015

The company manufactures cosmetics and wellness products to customer specifications - from batches as small as size 1. This is achieved with the aid of an industrial robot developed in the laboratory environment: Yaskawa’s Motoman CSDA10F.

Lilac-coloured sneakers, sandwiches with cream cheese, salad without olives or muesli with an extra portion of nuts: the trend towards individualization of mass products has penetrated the mainstream consumer market. Whilst customer demands have long-since been routinely taken into account in the automotive industry, “built-to-order”, “remote monitoring” and “mass customization” are now gaining importance in Industry 4.0.

Danijel Hubman, company founder and owner of the Slovenian start-up “AlpStories”, was in Australia during a world trip when a charming and self-evident business idea occurred to him: natural care products manufactured 100% to individual customer requirements. Simon Jereb, Research & Technology Director of AlpStories, explains the concept thus: “We enable people to put together their own natural cosmetics according to their tastes and needs.” In doing so, the fledgling enterprise pursues the basic principles of personalization, creativity and simplicity.

An individual product - both inside and out

Liquid soap or body lotion, massage oil or bath salts: in a first step, customers can select the basic product on the AlpStories website. This is followed by a selection of packaging size and skin type. On this basis the customer receives suggestions for the product, which can be modified at any time. The user-friendly selection of ingredients from the menu - assisted by the so-called “Beauty Wizard” - results in an absolutely exclusive care product. These ingredients, which include ginkgo, lavender and pomegranate, are completely natural, guaranteeing premium quality. Not only the contents, but also the product packaging can be designed to one’s personal preferences. Customers can either select a label and product name from the selection menu, or they can add their own ingredients. In addition to a unique cream, it is thus possible to create one’s own brand.

Once the consumer has finalized the order with a click, a robot starts making the new product. The robot in question is a dual-arm Motoman CSDA10F from Yaskawa. At the initial conception of AlpStories it was already clear that a robot would be used. In the manufacture of the care products, founder Danijel Hubman wanted to combine the apparent opposites “nature” and “technology”. Simon Jereb sums up these thoughts: “The initial idea stand was to integrate nature with the latest technologies. The customer receives the best possible product from this symbiosis of nature and future.”

The Motoman CSDA10F operating at AlpStories even has its own personality. Its name is “Balthazar” and it is, so-to-speak a special design solution, equipped with a charming smile - as customers will see for themselves at the conclusion of the manufacturing process by online livestream. In addition, each product is delivered with a personal “making of” video.

Beautiful skin thanks to Balthazar

The individualization of industrially manufactured mass products was hitherto impractical due to the high unit labour costs. Modern robots now enable different product variations to be integrated into the normal manufacturing process without resulting in declining economies of scale. The dual-arm Motoman CSDA10F robot employed at AlpStories was originally developed for use under laboratory conditions. Thanks to multifunctional tools and grippers, it is highly versatile and able to learn new workflows easily and quickly.

Many lab-specific movements were standardized and stored as modules in a motion library. The main capabilities called for in the manufacture of cosmetic products are pipetting, opening and closing bottles, mixing ingredients and labelling bottles. The interface between man and robot is realized and visualized on a touch panel. With the aid of higher-level scheduling software, the operator only needs to compose and parameterize the individual processing steps of the chosen work sequence.

The CSDA10F is based on a robot that has already proven itself in industry automation. This new version was specially designed to satisfy the hygiene requirements in the cleanroom. It has a washable hygienic design - even H2O2 sterilization is possible - and an integrated installation inside the robot arms. It goes without saying that it is also cleanroom certified in accordance with ISO 14644-1.

Yaskawa Europe GmbH received the Innovation Award 2014 of the senetics healthcare group for the CSDA10F. A jury of healthcare experts selected Yaskawa with its humanlike robots as prize winner in the category “Most innovative product idea or patent” among 243 applications from corporate or research facilities.

Automated manufacture of individual products: Industry 4.0

In principle, the same arguments speak in favour of the CSDA10F for the individualized manufacture of mass products as in laboratory automation: quality and reproducibility have the highest priority. In the field of biomedicine, studies have clearly demonstrated that quality and reproducibility of a robot’s results are significantly better than those of a lab assistant. Robots can be operated with this high degree of precision 24 hours a day with consistent quality and without any signs of fatigue. The technicians at AlpStories were amazed at the ease-of-maintenance of the CSDA10F: “With the exception of occasional inspections in the course of the day, the robot runs fully automatically. It never fails to surprises us how smoothly the interplay of all elements functions,” says Simon Jereb.

Changing customer requirements and new technical options make the implementation of “mass customization” concepts in many industries increasingly interesting. Especially in Industry 4.0 they are assuming greater importance than ever before. Complex products from batch size 1 and the implementation of micro-series, however, present an enormous challenge for the automation of the required processes. The production line must be highly flexible to permit the conversion of layout and function for a new product. As the AlpStories example shows, this is possible with the use of advanced dual-arm robots.

Summary

Charming and precise: the use of a Motoman CSDA10F Slovenian start-up AlpStories for the individual manufacture of cosmetic products demonstrates how Industry 4.0 issues can be solved intelligently. The use of a dual-arm robot enables individual customer requirements to be cost-effectively integrated into the standardized manufacturing process. Almost incidentally, the highest standards of quality and reproducibility in the production process are guaranteed.

Joseph F. Engelberger, an engineer and entrepreneur who pioneered the robotics field, will turn 90 years old on July 26th. Widely known as the “father of robotics,” Engelberger launched the world’s first robotics company, Unimation, in 1956.

July 2015

The first industrial robot called Unimate was installed in a General Motors plant in 1961 and revolutionized modern manufacturing processes. Unimate even made an appearance on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1966. Since then, approximately three million industrial robots have been installed in manufacturing facilities around the world.
Unimation grew into a company with more than a thousand employees before being acquired by Westinghouse in 1982 for $107 million. After the sale of Unimation, Engelberger saw a whole new field for robotics - in healthcare and elder care. In 1984 he formed HelpMate Robotics, initially called Transitions Research Corp. Its goal was to give robots sensory capabilities to work with humans in service activities. HelpMate robots traveled along hospital hallways and in and out of elevators carrying pharmaceuticals and supplies to nurses. HelpMate was acquired by Cardinal Health in 1997. Engelberger’s vision for service and mobile robots has paved the way for today’s emerging robotics technologies.
“We wish our friend Joe Engelberger all the best for his milestone 90th birthday,” said Jeff Burnstein, President of the Robotic Industries Association (RIA). “Joe was instrumental in founding RIA over 40 years ago, bringing together early robotics leaders. We’re very thankful for his pioneering role and honor him every year by presenting the Joseph F. Engelberger award to individuals making outstanding contributions to the field of robotics.” Since the awards inception in 1977, they have been presented to 116 robotics leaders from 17 different nations.

Recent winners of the Engelberger award include Dean Kamen, founder of the FIRST Robotics competition and Rodney Brooks, co-founder of iRobot and current Chairman and CTO of Rethink Robotics. “Joe Engelberger is such a name in robotics,” stated Rodney Brooks after receiving the Engelberger award for Leadership in 2014. “It’s a real honor to win an award in his name. He is a monumental figure in the field of robotics.”

“Joe Engelberger’s invention of the first industrial robot inspired many of us to pursue a career in this amazing field,” stated Arturo Baroncelli, President of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) and also a past winner of the Engelberger award. “Thanks to his effort and passion for technology, we have a strong robotics industry today.”
Mr. Engelberger is a World War II Veteran, serving in the US Navy from 1942-1946. A member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, Engelberger has received many awards in his career, including the Japan Prize, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers-Leonardo da Vinci Award and the Automation Hall of Fame Prometheus Award. He has authored numerous articles and books, including Robotics in Practice and Robotics in Service. In his honor, RIA will soon be launching a special Engelberger tribute site which will be found at www.robotics.org.

Case Studies Industrial

The SEB Group has a major production facility in St. Jean de Bournay (France) that uses 33 WITTMANN robots.

July 2015

SEB, the world’s leading manufacturer of small household appliances, recently purchased the first WITTMANN tandem robot.

As the owner of such well-known brands as Seb, Calor, Tefal, Moulinex, Rowenta, Krups and Supor, the SEB Group is one of those top manufacturers of irons and steam generators that without which one cannot imagine the market.

The SEB Group has two facilities in France that are dedicated to the manufacture of irons and steam generators. One of these factories produces the required plastic parts and the other produces the metal parts and assembles the appliances.

Some six million individual parts are needed each year for these two commodities alone. Irons and steam generators are manufactured for the worldwide well-known SEB brands, Calor, Tefal, Moulinex and Rowenta. These are sold on the Asian and European markets, including Russia and Turkey. The SEB Group continues to enjoy strong growth. Turnover in 2013 was 4,161 million Euros, which amounts to a doubling since 2000.

SEB Group products

The SEB Group’s products must meet absolute strict requirements with regard to their ergonomics, especially those that are dictated by the risk inherent to operating one of these appliances. The safety and ergonomic specifications are very carefully formulated. The combination of heat, steam and electricity requires the implementation of specific technical features in order to comply with all the various standards.

The need for a watertight tank, for instance, is a feature that requires a specific method of production. Another less technical, more marketing-related consideration, concerns the customization of products with different color schemes and labeling (something that is demanded by the large retail chains). On top of this, of course, come reliability, functionality and design aspects. These are all important criteria that affect the choice of equipment used for manufacturing.

The plant in St. Jean de Bournay currently has 53 injection molding machines with a clamping force ranging from 22 to 800 tons that are capable of processing up to three different materials at the same time, plus around 45 linear and 16 six-axis robots. The machines produce housings for steam generators, water reservoirs for irons and various other parts (handles, caps etc.).

The numerous technical constraints require that the robots be integrated into a production environment that is very restricted in terms of space, with the primary objective of minimizing part removal time. (All of the aspects mentioned above have a direct impact on the production cycle of the machine.) In order to meet the growing demand, production operates in shifts, including over weekends, without the possibility of interruption.

An enduring partnership

A genuine relationship of trust has been built up with the WITTMANN BATTENFELD company over the years. One contributing aspect is the absolute confidence in WITTMANN BATTENFELD’s sales department, which has time and again managed to come up with technical solutions that have fully met the needs of SEB and which has supported the on-site innovation process. Another factor that contributes to the smooth cooperation enjoyed is the excellent relationship between the technicians and engineers of each company.

These relationships have been further strengthened through a comprehensive training program that has pro-vided both parties with an in-depth knowledge of one another’s products.

The acquisition of a tandem robot

Always on the look-out for new solutions, the SEB Group recently invested in a WITTMANN tandem robot. The final step of the manufacturing process of a tank made from three different materials involves two parts being overmolded. The decision to buy a tandem robot was the result of lessons learned from previous experiences.

In the past, the SEB Group used a single robot. It performed the necessary functions, but required a picker arm that was not precise enough, and most importantly, caused a significant delay in the mold area. The use of two classic robots was precluded due to the restricted amount of space available.
The tandem robot turned out to be the best solution in terms of both robustness (W832) and space requirement (the compact design of a WITTMANN robot). It makes a special
mode of operation possible whereby two robots are able to enter the mold area of the machine simultaneously (in this case, a 3-component rotary mold). This solution is also a world first for WITTMANN.

  • When the mold is opened, the first robot removes the tank that was overmolded during the previous injection process and places it onto a control station (external to the machine) where it gets checked for leaks and where the component is finalized before being packed manually in the packaging unit.
  • The second robot removes the upper component of the tank and places it onto the lower component (the two parts are then ready to be overmolded).

The fact that the two operations could be separated from each other made it possible to achieve the targeted cycle time. The redesigned process has resulted in a highly efficient use of materials together with a rejection rate approaching zero.

The results after a few months in operation endorse the decision to employ exactly this piece of equipment. These positive results ultimately led SEB to purchase a second tandem solution from WITTMANN, which has already gone into operation.

Author: Dominique Colbrant

Case Studies Industrial

TRW Systems is a global leader in automotive safety, manufacturing intelligent systems for all the leading automotive OEMs.

July 2015

TRW Systems located at Peterlee, County Durham, UK is a global leader in automotive safety, manufacturing intelligent systems for all the leading automotive OEMs that help to keep passengers, drivers and pedestrians safe. When a new production line for airbag control sensors was required, TRW turned to Stäubli and their system integration partners Grohmann and IPTE to provide the robots required at the heart of the automated sequence of cells.

TRW at Peterlee has been manufacturing airbag control systems for several years using a combination of in house and outsourced components for the final assembly. Increased demand and an objective of bringing more of the supply chain in house has generated the need for new investment in a dedicated manufacturing line. Initially, a manually based system was considered but when TRW looked into the economics of using multi axis robots, a decision to fully automate the new line with a combination of four axis and six axis robotics provided the best cost benefit solution.

The new manufacturing line consists of several connected cells each utilizing Stäubli robots. The initial operation is to insert a metal bush into the PCB. This process is performed by two TS60 4 axis Scara robots: the first picking up the metal insert and placing into position and the second pressing the bush securely into place on the PCB. Each board comprises an array of up to 48 sensor units.

The boards then pass into the adjacent cell where the electrical contacts are cut from an in feed roll and inserted into the PCB. After this process the individual sensor components are separated from the board and proceed to a vision checking station handled by a TS60. The position of the electrical contacts is extremely critical and needs to be within +/- 0.1mm to ensure correct operation of the sensor.

After passing through a heating station, the sensor components enter the overmoulding cell serviced by two RX160 six axis robots - chosen by TRW for their exceptional reach and speed of operation. The components are arranged into trays of eight and the first operation is to apply a thermoplastic elastomer followed by a second overcoating of glass filled nylon. The RX 160s execute the fast demoulding, positioning and placing required, all within the IMM cycle time of just 30 secs. Each component is then fed by the robots into a final functional testing station which replicates the inertial shock that would be experienced in a crash; a response time of just 19 milliseconds for the airbag signal to be emitted is required for the components to pass the test. Failures at this stage are rare, less than 0.1%, a considerable improvement on the previous manual system using outsourced components. The final station applies the labeling and marking on each component ensuring 100% traceability.
This was the first investment in automation using multi axis robots at TRW Peterlee and initially there were some concerns about ease of use and the training that could be required. Their fears proved groundless with the operators quickly recognizing and embracing fully the benefits of the new system. The new line has been operating 24h/day 6 days/week for 7 months without any major problems.

The new line has the flexibility to accommodate a range of different sensor models; currently 12 variants can be processed and has provided a manpower saving of 12 over a manual system. The ability to manufacture on a strict JIT basis has minimized inventory. With a payback of less than one year, TRW has been impressed by the performance of the automated line and particularly the Stäubli robots, so much so that they are now planning a second line with the same level of automation.

TRW Peterlee is now recognized in the group as a “Super Site” and is its centre for manufacturing in Europe.
Stäubli Robotics’ input into the new system eased the path for TRW towards its first adoption of multi axis robotics and clearly highlighted the benefits that can be readily achieved by the use of these advanced, user friendly machines.

IFR Press Releases

The 2015 Invention and Entrepreneurship in Robotics and Automation (IERA) award was shared by François Boucher of Kinova Inc., Canada and Tom Lipinski of Q-Bot Limited, United Kingdom.

The 2015 Invention and Entrepreneurship in Robotics and Automation (IERA) award was shared by François Boucher of Kinova Inc., Canada and Tom Lipinski of Q-Bot Limited, United Kingdom. The award was announced on May 28th at the Award Luncheon of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) held in Seattle after the judging panel decided to jointly honor two of the finalists, Kinova and Q-Bot. The third finalist was Sander Karl of Fortschrittliche Robotertechnologie GmbH & Co. and the presentation was made by Björn Hein of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany. The three finalists were selected from a pool of ten applicants.

As witnessed by the joint award, the judges had a difficult time in coming up with a sole winner. The six member judging panel consisted of Dominik Bösl (KUKA, Germany), Werner Kraus Jr. (Fraunhofer IPA, Germany), Raj Madhavan (Awards Chair and VP, IEEE RAS Industrial Activities Board), Mario Munich (iRobot, USA), Erwin Prassler (runfun, Germany), and Nicola Tomatis (Bluebotics, Switzerland). Rainer Bischoff (KUKA, Germany) and Alexander Verl (Fraunhofer IPA, Germany) both served as judges in the first phase to determine the three finalists.

The panel wrote the following citations in announcing the two winners:

  • for providing an easy to use robotic solution that enhances the autonomy of disabled people (Kinova)
  • for developing a simple robotic solution for insulating homes thus positively impacting lives of people and protecting the environment by reducing energy consumption (Q-Bot)

Kinova: Launched in 2010, JACO Rehab Edition is a six-axis robotic manipulator arm with a threefingered hand. This little marvel of engineering significantly improves the lives of persons with reduced mobility. Lightweight, very quiet, unobtrusive, safe and even weatherproof, JACO assists anyone with an upper body mobility impairment to perform complex actions. Many everyday activities, such as picking up glasses, holding a fork or opening a door, which most people do without thinking, can become insurmountable for people who have a disability and have to ask someone else to do it for them. The JACO arm makes life easier for these people by giving them greater freedom and independence.

Q-Bot: “Mini JCBs” are compact, powerful and capable of operating in hazardous environments. These intelligent tools can remotely carry out operations that would otherwise be impractical and too cost prohibitive for humans to do so. The initial application is the retrofit of underfloor insulation. A market worth $20bn in England alone, and which is only practically and economically possible with robots.

In its eleventh year, the IERA award is jointly sponsored and organized by IEEE RAS and the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). It highlights and honors the achievements of inventors with value creating ideas and entrepreneurs who propel those ideas into world-class products. The entries are evaluated based on criteria that give equal consideration to both innovation and entrepreneurship. The winners were awarded a plaque and a $2000 cash prize, which will be shared by the joint winners this year! For additional details on the award and a list of the winners from the previous ten years, please see IFR webpage.

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IFR Press Releases

The increasing use of robots has motivated a number of researchers to analyse the impact of automation on jobs and the economy: like many things, the forecasts and views are often different.

Dear Reader,

The increasing use of robots has motivated a number of researchers to analyse the impact of automation on jobs and the economy: like many things, the forecasts and views are often different. In this perspective I like to cite some views and studies supporting the positive effects of the introduction of Robots and Automation. Our German member association VDMA Robotics + Automation has assessed its opinion in a recent press conference. The European robotics association EUnited Robotics also published a position focusing on the growth associated with the use of Robots. The main conclusion is that robots have a huge impact on productivity and competitiveness. This is the very foundation of a prospering labour market. Robots improve the working conditions by taking over dangerous, tedious and dirty work in the manufacturing industry and in many cases performing operations that simply cannot be done otherwise. This was also the results of the IFR study of 2012 conducted by MetraMartech.

Other experts also highlight the opportunities deriving from combining machine and human strengths to do what neither could do separately. This is in line with all the potential applications obtainable through the emerging technologies associated with cooperative Robotics. Just imagine a situation in which the operator and the robot work side-by-side, executing their respective tasks to the best of their natural abilities. Robots would likely be used for heavy, boring, repetitive and dangerous tasks, as well as those tasks that necessitate extreme speed, while human operators would focus on tasks that require intelligence, care and dexterity.

Robots also make our daily life better. The two winners of the IERA Award 2015 are two impressive examples:

  • François Boucher of Kinova Inc. provided an easy to use robotic solution that enhances the autonomy of disabled people.
  • Tom Lipinski of Q-Bot Limited developed a simple robotic solution for insulating homes thus positively impacting lives of people and protecting the environment by reducing energy consumption.

In a few days, the robot community will meet in China, the most dynamic robot market in the world, at the robot exhibition CIROS (8-11 July 2015) in Shanghai. CEOs from international and Chinese robot companies will discuss with Chinese robot users on “Innovation on Robot Applications” at the joint CRIA-IFR CEO Round Table (7 July 2015). Another exciting event will be the China International Summit of Robot Industry on 8 July with experts from the most important robot markets in the world.


Best regards

Arturo Baroncelli
IFR President

They're here ... to help and improve our lives. On May 21, 2015, the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI) premiered a new national touring exhibit, Robot Revolution, supported by Google.org, which includes SCHUNK.

They’re here ... to help and improve our lives. On May 21, 2015, the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI) premiered a new national touring exhibit, Robot Revolution, supported by Google.org, which includes SCHUNK.
Robot Revolution explores how robots, created by human ingenuity, will ultimately be our companions and colleagues, changing how we play, live and work together. The exhibit allows guests to step into a visionary world where robots are not just a curiosity, but a vital asset.
The exhibit comes to life with a collection of cutting-edge robots that have been secured from some of the most innovative global robotics companies and universities.
Within the Skills area of the exhibit, the SCHUNK LWA Powerball arm with the attached SCHUNK 3-finger hand allows guests to watch advanced gripping systems with seven degrees of freedom in action how they can grip various objects. Additionally, guests can see the SCHUNK 5-finger hand mimicking a human hand with nine motors, twenty joints, and elastic fingertips. SCHUNK Grippers also grasp object of all different shapes and sizes in the exhibit.
"We are extremely excited to support MSI with its important mission to show the world the importance of robotics, its infinite possibilities and to get the younger generation eager and interested in robotics," said Jesse Hayes, Automation Group Manager at SCHUNK.
MSI’s Robot Revolution exhibit development team worked with a renowned group of robotics experts to offer insight on exhibit content. This team of advisors includes lead advisor Dr. Henrik I. Christensen, KUKA Chair of Robotics at the College of Computing of Georgia Institute of Technology and executive director of the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines, as well as Dr. Dennis Hong, professor and founding director of RoMeLa (Robotics & Mechanisms Laboratory) of the Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering Department at UCLA.
Throughout Robot Revolution, hands-on elements, intriguing video and thought-provoking questions enable guests to recognize the amazing ways that robotics can better society.
"We believe it is vital to inspire the next generation of engineers and tech entrepreneurs so that we can continue to see technology change the world," said Jim Lecinski, head of Google’s Chicago office. "Google is happy to support MSI’s Robot Revolution exhibit to make complex concepts accessible to kids of all ages and to get them excited about science, technology, engineering and math."
Robot Revolution is supported by Google.org with additional support from The Boeing Company, RACO Industrial, The David Bohnett Foundation, The Kaplan Foundation and official airline United Airlines. This exhibit will run at MSI through January 3, 2016, then will continue on its tour within the United States. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.msichicago.org.

Work Impossible for Humans

Brewing fine beer is a skill and art that requires attention to detail.

June 2015

A craft brewery that installs an automated system might get pushback from purists who say automation doesn’t have a place for companies that want to make a unique product. Automation has benefits for manufacturers in all industries, including the food and beverage sector. Discover the reasons why a craft brewery in Portland, Oregon decided that installing the automation of today was necessary to support a centuries-old industry.

Brewing quality beer and building a customer base in a competitive market is no easy task. Widmer Brothers launched in 1984 and found that success does breed success, and creates a need to get the product to market safely and on time. In the latest installment of the video series Why I Automate - Widmer Brothers, the company’s Brewing Innovation Manager, Ben Dobler, says new products are constantly evolving based on the many available combinations of ingredients.

Packaging

Change is inevitable in any industry. Building the perfect brewhouse alone couldn’t meet the customer demands that led to the growth of Widmer Brothers. By 1996, the company achieved the production of 220,000 barrels per year. That more than doubled to 450,000 barrels per year by 2008 with more growth on the way.

Management increased capacity in fermentation and storage, but packaging and getting the beer to market quickly became a challenge.

Safety

A case of empty beer bottles may not be heavy, but lifting one after another off a pallet strains the joints. Loading the cases on to conveyors throughout the workday led to workplace injuries. Automation was a solution for that problem. The use of robots for depalletizing allowed workers to move on to other tasks that were safer and didn’t pose the same risk of injuries.

Speed

A customized solution using Kuka robots moved the product along and the company wasn’t limited by the inevitable worker fatigue. The integrator, Midwest Engineered Systems, designed a system with flexibility to meet the space constraints at Widmer Brothers. Systems are user friendly with graphic touch screen interfaces and full reporting capabilities and maintenance diagnostics.

The video shows a custom vacuum gripper that latches onto the boxes, moves them onto the conveyor and separates the boxes and aligns them properly for the bottling line. Dobler says automation freed up workers to focus more on doing what they do best-crafting a high quality beer. He noted that a system that is properly put in place leads to a product that is made with consistent high quality.

A few minutes spent watching Why I Automate - Widmer Brothers shows how technology can help a small company keep a growing fan base satisfied and coming back for more.

A variety of automated solutions are available to meet unique needs of a company within specific industries.

Omron Adept

Adept Technology, Inc. has received an order totaling more than 1 million dollars (US Dollar) for its Lynx autonomous intelligent vehicles (AIVs) product.

May 2015

The customer is Techmetics Solutions, an automation solutions provider to the hospitality, food and beverage industry in Southeast Asia. Robot deliveries are scheduled throughout the next 12 months, beginning in June 2015.

“This order is a testament to the advantages Lynx mobile robots provide to customers, boosting transport efficiency, process traceability and lowering operating costs,” said Rob Cain, Adept president and CEO. “We are excited to be working with Techmetics as we expand our mobile products into new markets.”

Service industry specialist Techmetics creates high-quality, cost-effective automation solutions using technologies to meet clients’ needs. Mathan Muthupillai, Techmetics chairman, said, “We are excited to partner with Adept and deploy Lynx-based solutions into the hospitality, food and beverage market, where the robots’ onboard intelligence, exceptional navigation, and safety features make them ideal for a host of transportation tasks.”

Adept Lynx AIVs provide rapid, traceable material movement in highly dynamic environments. Lynx vehicles intelligently self-navigate, avoiding obstacles and selecting the best path to complete a task. The vehicles work safely alongside people; can be deployed as a fleet to accommodate large operations; and can run in conjunction with the user’s existing enterprise management system. Return on investment for a Lynx mobile robot can be as low as one year, depending on the application.

VDMA

German robotics and automation sector on global growth course after record year - In the past years, robots have considerably contributed to economic growth and prosperity worldwide.

June 2015

German robotics and automation sector on global growth course after record year - In the past years, robots have considerably contributed to economic growth and prosperity worldwide. “The use of robotics and automation offers outstanding opportunities for stable economic development, high-quality and ergonomic jobs as well as safe and affordable products,” Patrick Schwarzkopf, Managing Director of the VDMA trade association Robotics + Automation, said at the annual press conference. “Worries about a future where robots snatch people’s jobs away are unfounded. Humans and robots are a winning combination. Even sensational reports to the contrary cannot blind us to this fact” says Schwarzkopf. The German robotics and automation sector saw a new record in 2014 by achieving a turnover increase of 9 percent to 11.4 billion euros. In the current year a turnover growth of 5 percent is expected.

“Prospects are good that the industry will reach the turnover mark of 12 billion euros by the end of the year,” said Hans-Dieter Baumtrog, Chairman of VDMA Robotics + Automation. In the first four months of 2015, order intake exceeded last year’s level by 11 percent. Demand came mainly from abroad. In 2014, exports already accounted for 55 percent. The largest export market is China where investments are increasingly being made in automation technology in order to advance into technologically advanced markets in the future.

No paradox - robots and jobs

Example German automotive industry: Being by far the largest customer sector, the automotive industry expanded its population of industrial robots in Germany by 15 percent up to 92,000 units between 2010 and 2014. In the same period its number of employees increased by 10 percent to 775,000. This shows that the prevailing fear that automation takes people’s jobs away is unfounded. Meanwhile in many instances the direct collaboration of humans and robots is possible. Sensor technology makes robots so safe that they can do without protective fences.

Example North America: The country is bringing industries back home which it had outsourced to low-wage countries years ago. The Americans realised that a strong industrial basis is important for consistent growth. However, this re-shoring is only possible because enterprises have become more competitive by adopting automation.

ING-DiBa robot study not useful

With its study “The robots are coming - consequences of automation for the German labour market”, the ING-DiBa bank caused a great stir in April. According to the survey 59 percent of jobs examined in Germany would be in danger sooner or later due to increasing automation. This would correspond to 18 million jobs. The chances opened up by use of robots for new professions and employments, however, are not quantified. Instead, an unrealistic assessment of technology leads to a distortion of reality. The authors claim for example that 1.9 million office clerks and secretaries would be robotised, merely 250,000 jobs would remain. “In our view this is not at all a realistic assumption,” says Schwarzkopf. The German Federal Ministry of Labour has verified the automation potential, not in terms of profession but in terms of tasks performed. The result was that only about 12 percent of all jobs show a profile with high automation probability.

The study “Robots at Work” published in February 2015 analyses the impact of increasing automation on the economic development of 17 countries. Its authors Georg Graetz of Uppsala University and Guy Michaels of the London School of Economics, however, come to a different conclusion. On average a good 10% of GDP-growth and 15% of the productivity gains were attributable to increased robot use. The experts did not find a reduction of employment but rather an increase of wages. “From this we conclude that technical progress has made human work more valuable”, Schwarzkopf said.
In 2013, the international robot association IFR already discovered in its study “Positive Impact of Robots on Employment” that per robot used, three to five jobs are newly created in manufacturing.

The positive impact can also be seen in the German economy: The robot population increased by almost 20 percent to 176,000 units between 2010 and 2014. In the same period, overall employment rose by 1.6 million, reaching 42.58 million. In the past five years, 100,000 new jobs were created in the mechanical engineering industry alone. This sector currently employs 1,008,000 people.

Record turnover in all sub-sectors

Robotics as a sub-sector of robotics and automation increased its turnover by 7 percent, reaching 3.3 billion euros in 2014. Machine vision - ranging from optical quality inspection to automated toll road enforcement - recorded the largest increase of 16 percent, reaching 1.9 billion euros. The turnover of integrated assembly solutions, i.e. components and systems for assembly and handling, increased by 8 percent to 6.2 billion euros. In the course of this growth the number of employees in the entire sector rose by 3 percent, reaching almost 52,000. It is expected that employment figures will rise considerably in the next years.

Robotics on the increase worldwide

According to an IFR survey more than 225,000 robots were newly installed in 2014. This corresponds to a rise of 27 percent compared to the previous year. Europe showed a comparatively moderate growth rate of 4 percent, whereas North America had a more substantial rate of 8 percent. Installation of robots in Asia increased by 42 percent, mainly driven by China. “China does not content itself with employing robots. It is the express strategy of the Chinese government to become a strong and innovative robot country,” says association representative Baumtrog.

The growing interest in robotics worldwide is also reflected in the record participation in AUTOMATICA, the leading trade fair of the industry, taking place in Munich next year. Even today, a year earlier, 91 percent of the exhibition space has been booked. AUTOMATICA presents the new possibilities of production optimisation: Industry 4.0, human-robot collaboration and professional service robotics.

RIA old

Continuing on the path of industrial robot orders and shipment records set in 2014, a new record for robots ordered and shipped in the first quarter has now been established in 2015, according to Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group.

A total of 6,895 robots valued at approximately $435.1 million were ordered from North American companies during the first quarter of 2015. These figures represent an increase of 16% in units and 29% in dollars over the same period in 2014. Robot shipments also set a new record, with 6,997 robots valued at $369.2 million being shipped to North American customers in the opening quarter. This represents exceptional growth of 60% in units and 24% in dollars over the same quarter of last year. Both orders and shipments in the opening quarter beat the previous record for the first quarter last set in 2013.

“It’s exciting to see the dynamic growth that continues in the robotics industry,” said Jeff Burnstein, President of RIA. “With a record setting performance in 2014 and a great start in 2015, more and more companies are realizing the benefits of automating their operations.”

Automotive related orders continued to drive the market’s performance in the first quarter. Robot orders to the Automotive Components industry increased 66% in units, while robots ordered by Automotive OEMs grew by 6%. Other notable growth areas included Life Sciences (10%) and Metals (7%). The hottest applications in the first quarter in units ordered were Material Handling (33%), Spot Welding (26%), and Coating & Dispensing (9%).

RIA estimates that some 235,000 robots are now at use in United States factories, placing the US second only to Japan in robot use.

Work Unsafe for Humans

The staff were skeptical. Would the machines take our jobs?

June, 2015

But once the robots had made inroads into Swegon’s factory in Tomelilla, Sweden, the attitude of the employees quickly changed.

It was like playing the world’s most difficult version of Tetris. Hour after hour employees had to stand pressing small plastic pucks into panels by hand. It started to become a working environment problem for Swegon, which manufactures ventilation systems. It was also expensive to have people employed to perform a very simple task: to assemble the many small, round plastic nozzles in every ceiling panel in a symmetrical pattern.

Site manager Ingvar Hagström met with some skepticism when he told staff that they were going to let robots do the job. Would they take our jobs? How would quality be affected? But since last December, when the robots began working in Tomelilla, the attitude of staff has changed.

“Now the employees are very positive about the robots. Quite simply, they’re pleased to be able to avoid having to fit the nozzles by hand. And we haven’t had to lay anyone off due to the robots,” comments Ingvar Hagström.

He thought that the robots would be loud, making the factory noisier. But the fact is that it has become quieter since the robot cell started fitting the nozzles.

Swegon enlisted the help of integrator Evomatic in Karlshamn to customize a robot cell that could perform this very specific task. “What’s different is that they decided to use a so-called ‘FlexPicker’ robot (IRB 360) from ABB within the manufacturing industry,” comments Mats Pettersson at Evomatic.

“The FlexPicker is most commonly used within the food industry for picking sausages or pralines, for example, as it cannot cope with heavy items.”

However, what the FlexPicker lacks in strength, it makes up for in speed. It can handle one nozzle per second and the robot also works without interruption. The installation also includes the PickMaster software from ABB, which has been specially developed for picking random objects from conveyors. Automating production in this way was far from free, but according to site manager Ingvar Hagström, Swegon expects to make a return on their investment in three years.

The goal was for the robot cell to be able to work as hard as possible without human monitoring or intervention. Before the employees go home for the day, therefore, they fully charge the robot cell so it can continue working until there are no more panels left.

Case Studies Industrial

SHAD, the leading European manufacturer of top and side cargo cases for motorcycles installs its first UR5 from Universal Robots in its factory in Mollet del Valles (Catalonia, Spain).

June 2015

The collaborative robot arm has streamlined production, enabling the cases to be assembled in half the time, while also enhancing the work environment for employees.

The Spanish company NADSL, best known for its SHAD brand of top and side cargo cases for motorcycles, manufactures original equipment (seats and cases) for the world’s leading motorbike manufacturers. The company chose Universal Robot’s collaborative robots to optimize its production processes thanks to their ease-of-use and the fact that they can be operated without the need for safety barriers. The UR5 six-axis robot works side by side with plant personnel in a shared environment, where it frees them up from having to do the more repetitive tasks such as screwing in screws on the cases, thereby enhancing production cycle time and quality, as well as helping to improve the work area.

The NADSL factory in Mollet del Valles, Barcelona, has 40 years experience in manufacturing original equipment for motorbikes, mainly seats and top and side cases for OEMs such as Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki, Piaggio, Peugeot and BMW. The company also manufactures and markets cases and seats under its own SHAD brand and has been expanding its product catalogue in recent years to include bags for motorbikes, top cases for quadbikes, custom-made seat backs for scooters and communication accessories such as Bluetooth hands free kits and holder mounts for smartphones.

Achieving betterment through technology is one of the company’s main challenges, not only in the design of new products but also in their production. Shad had considered previously the possibility of installing a robot, but due to their customary short production runs, the cost of a traditional industrial robot could not be justified. Besides the issue of the return on investment, they were also looking for a solution that could operate alongside its production workers in limited spaces. The UR5, Universal Robots’ 18kg model with 5kg payload, fulfilled these requirements. Furthermore it was possible for the company to install it in practically the same amount of space required to manually assemble the cases and with the same initial cost investment as that of a normal robot, but through a much simpler installation process that helped reduce to a minimum the costs of setting it up.

The installation of the robot was done by its operators in two stages: in the first stage tests were done using the robot with a pneumatic screwdriver alongside the operator who, at the same time, was screwing in the same parts manually. This stage served as a comparison between the automated and the manual processes and allowed the production line managers to define the best way to configure the robot in order to streamline the collaborative process between robot and operator.

In the second stage, the UR5 was installed so that the operator could carry out the manual preparation (such as place the parts in their line position) whilst the robot performed the more repetitive tasks of picking up the screws and driving them into the parts. It was therefore possible to optimize the entire task, and assemble parts in half the time.
“The installation of the robot represents a technological improvement in our production that has enhanced the quality of the product and helped us reduce costs at the same time”, comments Joan Planas, engineer at NADSL.

Universal Robots’ official distributor in Catalonia, Vicosystems, supplied the robot to NADSL, and SHAD are very satisfied with the utilization of the robot which has improved working conditions for the production personnel thanks to the robot taking on the most repetitive tasks such as driving in screws. The development of the programming was done in less than two weeks and in one or two days the rest of the production personnel were able to carry out maintenance tasks and adjustments in the configuration (such as modifying point positions, programming timers, etc). The UR robot also has a guided system for configuring the pass points, the Teach mode, allowing operators to simply grab the robot arm to “teach” the robot the desired moves. Although as Joan Planas explains: “For the operators it was very easy to familiarize themselves with robot’s graphic interface”.

The Universal Robots robotic arm is the first collaborative robot to be installed in the factory in Catalonia, but due to the positive results so far, Shad is looking to install a second robot in other areas of its production plant.

Case Studies Industrial

It usually takes five days from when a dentist sends an impression of a patient’s teeth to the lab, until the finished crown returns.

June 2015

Challenges and Needs: A process, that Glidewell Dental Laboratories wanted to optimize. David Leeson, engineering manager at Glidewell, had his eyes on Universal Robots’ collaborative robot arms as he researched potential automation solutions:

“I had followed the collaborative robot development for a while, and hearing that the UR robots were used at BMW was a vote of confidence in this new type of robot. I finally got to play around with a UR5 at Automate 2013 and realized it was a real industrial piece of machinery and not just a toy,” says Leeson, who bought the first UR5 robot in 2012 and is now waiting for the seventh to be delivered.

Robot Tasks: The UR5 robot picks a crown to be milled from dispensers with blanks in 16 different shades. The UR5 places the blank in the milling lathe, picks it back out and places it on a conveyor after the 10 minute milling cycle. A vision camera monitoring the dispensers with shades communicates with the robot. If a dispenser is empty or jammed, the vision guidance enables the robot to work on a crown in a different shade, ensuring continued production while an operator can be alerted to fix the dispenser issue.
Since the milling cycle is 10 minutes, it was not feasible for Glidewell to have an operator stationed at the machine to manually load and unload each blank. Instead, the lab inserted the crowns in batches of 15 each which only needed to be done every two hours.
“But now with the UR robot, we can insert each blank immediately into the mill when we receive the CAD scan without waiting for 15 cases to arrive, having the operator nest them into the 15 piece block,” explained Leeson.

Achieving a dynamic, single part flow with the UR5 robot has cut the production cycle time from 28 to 17 hours. “That is less time that our customers are waiting and it has efficiency benefits throughout our process,” says the engineering manager. The optimized production cycle also means that Glidewell can save two operators per shift in the milling room.

“We run a 24/7 operation and. The robot has freed our employees up to focus and improve on handling the complex tasks which also improves our overall product quality,” says Leeson. “We will likely get 3-4 more UR robots in the near future. The only limiting factor right now is that we need more blocks for the individual crowns. As soon as we have those, we’ll get more robots to handle the one crown one batch process. We’re also looking into automating other steps in our production where we see the UR robots playing a key role.”

Selected Robots and Parts: Seven UR5 robots equipped with SMC grippers with SS fingers made in house.

Implementation and Training: Automation engineer Daniel Phee had not worked with collaborative robots before and was surprised at how easy it was to program the robot: “The interface on the touch screen makes it very easy to program the robot. I used a combination of the teach method and my own script. I really liked how reliable the UR robot is, you don’t have to worry about maintenance and we have had no big operation issues come up.”

The teach method allows the user to simply grab the robot arm and move it through the way points in the desired task. It took Glidewell about 5-6 months to fully integrate the first application, but this was mostly down to building custom milling machines and working with heavy IT infrastructure. “But after this it was easy. With the next robots, it only took us 2-3 days to install the complete system,” says Daniel Phee. David Leeson was struck by the fact that interfacing with external equipment was a native capability of the UR robots.

“We wanted to use TCP/IP to easily work with inexpensive, non-industrial hardware instead of having to buy Modbus or something costly like that. As a result, we’ve got simple integration with a machine vision that we did all the coding in-house for while avoiding having to buy a proprietary expensive system.”

Results & Advantages: Production cycle time has now been reduced from 27 hours to 18 hours

As a result, Glidewell saves two milling operators per shift. They have been allocated to more complex tasks, ensuring increased product quality. Seamless integration with external machinery means that Glidewell could easily integrate machine vision in the application. Force-sensing enables the UR5 robot to operate with no safety fencing, saving Glidewell both space and the cost of having to build a large enclosure for the robot. Having the collaborative robot work next to employees heightens the awareness of human interaction and the benefits of gradual transition from manual to automated processes, making the robot seem “less threatening” to employees.

Thanks to the RoboSAFE functions, Comau robots can interact with humans in a safer and direct way, without changing their operating performances

June 2015

Thanks to the RoboSAFE functions, Comau robots can interact with humans in a safer and direct way, without changing their operating performances.
The future of industrial robots is increasingly closer to mankind. This vision is supported by fast technological advances achieved through ‘safe’ applications, where the collaboration between humans and machines is made safer and easier, even during complex and burdensome production processes.This goal is also shared by the Comau Robotics division that, in the recent years, has been producing even more collaborative and human-friendly articulated robots.
Thanks to specific software and hardware components designed in collaboration with partner companies such as Heidenhain and B&R, Comau now offers its robots in a ‘safe’ version. The RoboSAFE functions adopted by Comau SMART robots allow companies to limit the speed and action areas inside the robotic cell, ensuring that the machine cannot impede the movements of the operators or be dangerous for them.

When humans work with robot

The RoboSAFE functions developed by Comau operate through the use of dynamic parameters which can be turned on or off in a flexible way. Security sensors detect the human presence in the cell and, when necessary, they slow down the robot movements or prevent it to enter into a given area without ever interrupting the production cycle. This allows the operators to enter the working area of the robot inside the cell safely and without operational pauses. This is an extremely important feature because, even in industrial applications where automation is particularly extensive, it is never possible to do completely without the contribution of humans.
RoboSAFE means that the robot can adapt to the presence of the operators on the line without being dangerous for their work and keeping the same productive efficiency - from the programming phase of the robot to the start of a production cycle, until service operations or technical interventions. However, these are not the only advantages of RoboSAFE. Controlling the speed of the robot avoids risky interactions between human and machine, and reducing its stopping space significantly increases the reaction time of the operator.

Safe even in 3D

The recent functional advances, thanks to which Comau robots can operate in the ‘safe’ mode, enable the operators to control the movements even inside the Cartesian space. The robotic cell is virtually divided in zones with different degrees of criticality, in which the robot can behave differently depending on the type of violation committed by the operator.
The development of the RoboSAFE functions has resulted in a safe limitation of portions of 3D space. If, for example, the operator accesses working areas which are considered non-critical, what is programmed is not the stopping of the machine, but only a reduction of its speed. The robot can then carry out its production cycle in an area of the cell, while the operator can access another one to take care of maintenance or solve technical problems.
The safe limitation of the Cartesian space provided by RoboSAFE acts through three different operating modes: the robot can be limited inside a specific area, it can be programmed not to invade an area defined as ‘forbidden’, or it can be enabled to generate a safe warning alert when the TCP is inside the workspace.Specific control parameters also allow a safe limitation of the movements of tools which may be used by the robot during the application. In addition, they can predict the stopping distance in advance with respect to the limit. This allows operators to simplify the risk analysis, which is an important part of the project for the safety of an automated cell.

A simpler factory

Optimizing the layouts of industrial plants by reducing their operational footprint results in more efficient work and sustainability for the companies. In this sense, the application of the RoboSAFE functions allows a rationalization of the work area occupied by the robot. This means that the robotic cell does not necessarily need to be protected by a cage as large as the entire operational area of the robot, and it can occupy a more compact space.
The use of Comau SMART robots in the ‘safe’ mode can efficiently solve the problems caused by the human-machine interaction that occurs during industrial applications. This enables the removal of physical barriers that were previously placed in the cell, thus saving space in the plants thanks to a more rationalized layout. This represents a very important added value for companies, which can now work in smaller spaces in complete safety.

Comau and the collaborative robot of the future

Comau’s collaborative robots require the use of specific management tools and controllers. In particular, a programming station and a control unit capable of interfacing with the machine in the ‘safe’ applications.There are no programming differences between a work cycle with a robot in the ‘safe’ version and a normal one. What changes is the presence of specific interfaces for the security parameters in the software of the TP5 and C5G, which can be activated and managed by the operator and enabled via computer.
Today, all the new Comau robots - including the new compact Racer 7-1,4 and Racer 999 - are designed to operate in the safety mode. In addition, there are other models with various payloads which will be redesigned.
Compared to what happened in the past, the RoboSAFE functions allow humans to be even closer to the machine during industrial processes. Yet Comau continues to invest in research to ensure that its robots can become even more collaborative and safe. In the future, for example, Comau would like to be able to control not only the speed and the workspace of the robot, but also its strength. The company also envisions a time in which it is possible to manage manage totally shared human-machine workspaces, where the machine can interact adapting autonomously depending on the proximity of the operators.

IPA

It comes when called, bringing medical supplies with it and recording how they are used.

June 2015

Fraunhofer IPA is developing an intelligent medication cart that provides care staff with physical and informational support in their day-to-day work. The scientists at Fraunhofer IPA have now completed a first prototype. In doing so, they are continuing in their efforts to improve working conditions in the care sector and are developing solutions designed to address the challenges of demographic change.

Technical assistance systems can improve the difficult working conditions in residential nursing homes and hospitals by helping the staff in their work and reducing their workload, thereby giving them more time to interact with patients and residents. Great potential for workload reduction, in terms of both health benefits and time savings, is offered by the actual nursing process, which is where the intelligent medication cart is designed to help.

In a first prototype, the scientists at Fraunhofer IPA have equipped the mobile chassis of a Care-O-bot® 4 service robot with a new body that can be stocked with medical supplies. If the medication cart is connected to the call system of the care home or hospital, it can travel automatically to the room from which the patient has rung. The built-in touchscreen allows the nurse to confirm their presence and, once the robot is no longer required, to free it up for its next assignment. In addition, the nurse can use the display to easily record which patient-care utensils they have consumed.

Improvements for day-to-day work

Conventional medication carts do not offer optimal assistance for care staff. Especially in an emergency, the cart is often not where the staff need it to be. Also, it is often insufficiently stocked with medical supplies. This costs the staff valuable time, because they first have to go and fetch any missing supplies from the storeroom, which can involve walking long distances inside the care home or hospital. Even if electronic media are used, it takes the care staff a lot of time to record the kind of care they have administered and the supplies they have consumed, which is why they are often forced to carry out such work after the end of their shift.

“Our goal is to further develop the medication cart in such a way that its intelligent assistive features facilitate the day-to-day work of care staff. For example, the cart should always be where the nurse needs it to be. This saves legwork,” explains Dr. Birgit Graf, Group Manager for Domestic and Assistive Robotics at Fraunhofer IPA. For this purpose, the cart is equipped with a navigation system to enable it to travel autonomously to where it is needed. Any obstacles it encounters on the way are automatically detected and avoided. As an alternative to being connected to the call system, the cart can also be called using a smartphone.

In subsequent stages of development, there are plans to design the cart to automatically follow the care staff. A fully automated mechanism will enable the cart to make medical supplies available to the nurse in an ergonomic and hygienic manner. The nurse will record the care they have administered directly in the patient’s room using the display on the medication cart. Finally, the scientists at Fraunhofer IPA plan to study the possibilities for connection to an automated central storeroom that will restock the medication cart, electronically monitor inventories and reorder as required.

Medication cart as part of the “SeRoDi” project

The intelligent medication cart is being developed as part of a four-year collaborative project called “Service Robotics for Assistance with Personal Services” (SeRoDi). The German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) is supporting the project with almost three million euros. Fraunhofer IPA is collaborating with the Institute for Control Technology (ISW) and the Institute for Ergonomics and Technology Management (IAT) from the University of Stuttgart, the University of Greifswald as well as Altenpflegeheime Mannheim (Mannheim Nursing Homes) and the University Clinic of Mannheim as end users.
The goal is to implement three application scenarios from an everyday nursing environment and, in several evaluation cycles, to study the extent to which the new technologies can deliver improvements in the day-to-day work of the staff. In addition to the intelligent medication cart, the project partners are working to further develop the multifunctional “ELEVON” lifter, which is equipped with assistive features designed to help care staff with the lifting and transport of patients. The third application scenario involves a “mobile kiosk”, which, when called, can bring such items as snacks, drinks or magazines to the residents or patients either in the lounge or directly to their bed.

Wider dissemination of service robots

The project partners plan to leave the implemented assistive systems in the care homes or hospitals after the end of the project in order to allow them to be used, among other things, as demonstrators for other homes or hospitals. “We hope that the SeRoDi project will not only lead to the development and testing of new applications, but also enable us to gain new development and application partners in an effort to further promote the use of service robots in the medical and care sector,” emphasizes Birgit Graf.

Case Studies Industrial

Jigless robot welding is one of the most demanding disciplines in the automation industry.

June 2015

Jigless processes offer significant benefits - by reducing the cost of custom tooling and providing flexibility to process part variations with low batch sizes - but make high demands on robotics and the know-how of suppliers and users.

The immense advantages of fully automatic jigless welding with robots have made it a common topic of discussion. On the plus side, the elimination of manual activities and clamping fixtures, enabling greater flexibility and impressive autonomy in so-called “ghost shifts”, on the down side the technical complexity of the process and investments involved are cause for reservation.

“Anyone who is toying with the idea of investing in a jigless welding system should first check the complete spectrum of pending welding tasks for its jigless capability,” advises Yaskawa welding expert Sepp Hautzinger. “Not all components can be welded freely in space after positioning with a handling robot.” Put simply, repeatable parts that are not subject to significant weld distortion are favourable for jigless welding, whereas major production deviations from the specified contours and complex configurations can make the process far more difficult or even impossible.

Once the issue of feasibility has been positively decided, the matter of cost-efficiency of the process for the specified application must be clarified. Sepp Hautzinger, Sales Manager Office Austria of Yaskawa Europe GmbH, knows from a large number of realised applications that jigless is not automatically the cheapest variant. “Jigless robot welding is certainly the most elegant form of automation, but several factors determine cost-efficiency. Essentially, the process is suitable for components in a large number of variants and accordingly small to medium batch sizes. Yet the most meaningful indicator has proved to be the ratio of non-productive to welding times.”

High-tech versus manual work

If one compares jigless with conventional systems, the critical differences become immediately apparent. Jigless cells dispense with clamping fixtures, positioning tables and manual tasks such as clamping and tack welding. In return they require additional robots to ensure the exact positioning of the components, whilst welding robots carry out the joining process itself.

At first glance, investment in a jigless system appears to be more capital intensive due to the larger number of robots. However, depending on the batch size and number of variants, in practice some conventional welding systems require hundreds of clamping devices. These must be designed, constructed, stored and maintained. To this must be added the costs for manual clamping and tack welding work. A further advantage of jigless welding: in the case of component modifications there is no need for time- and cost-intensive adjustments to the welding fixtures. If a product line ends, the robots can be redeployed or reconfigured by simply changing end effectors and possibly the layout. Considering all these aspects, jigless technology scores major points on the cost side.

“Furthermore, unbelievable flexibility comes into play with jigless technology. We have already realised a number of systems that can work a complete shift completely autonomously. These ghost shifts hit the bull’s eye from an economic perspective, but require reliable mastering of all processes to ensure continuous, trouble-free operation,” stresses Hautzinger. Not only the competence of the plant manufacturer is required here; the user must also have in-depth experience with robots.

Yaskawa: Master of robotics and motion control

Technologically, jigless welding places high demands on robotics. Depending on the complexity of the welding task, the cooperation and coordination of different robots is essential. While handling robots accurately position the components to be welded, welding robots perform the joining. If perfect path behaviour and high precision are called for on the robot side, the control unit must be able to synchronise and coordinate a complete army of robots.

“Yaskawa satisfies all these requirements with flying colours. The Japanese have excellent handling and welding robots and superior control that can synchronise eight robots and up to 72 axes. Yaskawa thus sets a benchmark and is the ideal partner for jigless welding,” says Sepp Hautzinger. In addition, the company has decades of know-how in robot welding and can draw on a wealth of experience from thousands of realised applications.

The perfect robot coordination ensured by the new Yaskawa DX200 controller under all circumstances also has a positive influence on the welding result. In contrast to classical clamping fixtures with rigidly fixed parts, the handling robots can place the components in a perfect welding position freely in space. Each welding procedure is thus performed in the optimum flat position, significantly enhancing the welding quality and strength of the seams. Furthermore, Yaskawa is focusing on internally developed sensor technologies to ideally position the steps of all welding seams and is optimising welding sequences under the maxim of the lowest possible heat input, in order to minimise component distortion.

As the market leader in jigless welding, Yaskawa has realised many jigless applications in recent years. It is no longer only the major players in the automotive industry who are exploiting the benefits of the process, but increasingly small and medium-sized enterprises, as Sepp Hautzinger has observed: “We are building more and more jigless systems for innovative SMEs in different industries, primarily in the agricultural and construction machine industry, tank construction and, of course, wherever a high degree of flexibility is required. At Yaskawa we are convinced that in the coming years jigless technology is set to become the standard in a series of welding applications by virtue of the immense advantages it offers in terms of flexibility, quality and productivity.”


Case Studies Industrial

System supplier AutomationsRobotic has opened up a whole new dimension with its fully-automatic grinding cell for chassis components that offers 99.65 percent system availability.

June 2015

The robotic cell with two Yaskawa six-axis robots also sets benchmarks in terms of autonomy, output and flexibility.

When AutomationsRobotic directors Walter Schaffhauser and Alexander Steiger and their team closely examined the requirements specification of a renowned automotive supplier for a planned robotic grinding system, they found themselves increasingly questioning the feasibility of the project. The task seemed simple enough: the grinding, in defined areas, of structural components made of die-cast aluminum.

What initially appeared to the experienced system integrators to be a standard application quickly became a genuine challenge due to a whole host of restrictions and special requirements. Walter Schaffhauser recalls: “Even taken in isolation, the specified maximum cycle time of 30 seconds for the complex grinding operations is very difficult to achieve. What made us actually doubt the feasibility of the entire application, however, were the maximum requirements with regard to flexibility and availability. Despite having great confidence in our know-how, it takes a certain amount of courage to guarantee 99.65 percent overall system availability in three-shift operation under the harshest of operating conditions.”

Demonstrating this courage, and the motivation of an ambitious young company with ample confidence in its capabilities, the AR team took up the grinding challenge. In close cooperation with the automotive supplier specialists, a pioneering system concept was developed step by step that perfectly meets the requirements profile. A glance at the system reveals convincing detailed solutions that testify to the great automation expertise of the partners involved.

Details of the robotic grinding cell

The fully-automatic grinding cell is divided into two robot sections with a total of three grinding areas. The varied grinding tasks on the chassis components are shared between the two Yaskawa 6-axis robots, with the larger MS 80W in charge of operations in the cell while the smaller MH 50 performs the tool-guided grinding tasks.

Thanks to its considerable reach of over 2.2 meters and payload capacity of 80 kilograms, the MS 80W is able to perform the complete handling of the components and the workpiece-guided grinding tasks. The details of the sequence of operations are as follows. The structural chassis components are transported to the robotic cell on a conveyor belt. Once a part has reached the defined unloading position, a window in the robotic cell automatically opens, allowing the large 6-axis robot to reach out to the conveyor and fetch it into the cell for machining. The door then closes, hermetically sealing the cell, and the grinding operations can begin.

For this, the large 6-axis robot moves to the stationary grinding station and carries out various workpiece-guided work steps. It then transfers the part to a clamping fixture where the streamlined MH 50 executes further tool-guided grinding processes. In order to achieve the specified cycle times, AutomationsRobotic has coordinated the processes in such a way that the robots can work at their respective stations simultaneously and there are always two structural components in the cell at any one time. Once all the grinding is complete, the MS 80W removes the part from the clamping fixture and sets it back down on the conveyor belt. Alternatively, the parts can also be offloaded via a service drawer to enable integrated quality inspections.

More than 800 possible machining variants

Two technical highlights underscore the amount of know-how that has gone into the system. One of these is the automatic compensation for wear of the grinding materials. The state of the abrasives is permanently monitored by means of sensors. The motion paths of the robots are then automatically adjusted on the basis of this data. Only in this way is it possible to meet the strict requirements of the automotive manufacturer with regard to consistent machining quality and guaranteed process reliability with all steps fully documented.
Walter Schaffhauser is also particularly proud of the programming options which include an impressive range of stored machining variants: “Five surfaces that are always to be machined are defined for the structural components. In addition to this, there are 29 further surfaces for optional grinding, depending on the degree of wear to the tools in the upstream aluminum die-casting process. The operator can directly select or deselect each of these surfaces individually on the visualization display of the system. Theoretically, freely combining these surfaces results in more than 800 machining variants, each of which had to be completely programmed in the robot with meticulous attention to detail.”

Yaskawa robots take grinding dust in their stride

Without a doubt, however, the major difficulty presented by the requirements specification was compliance with the specified system availability of 99.65 percent in such extreme operating conditions. At the on-site photo shoot it became apparent just how harsh these conditions really are. Extremely fine grinding dust settled everywhere in the cell and all over the robots. Once the six-axis robots start their grinding operations, it is simply impossible to take photographs. The cell is now on “fine dust alert” and visibility is down to that of the densest London smog.

Although AutomationsRobotic pulled out all the stops with regard to dust removal by installing the most powerful extraction systems, the strain placed on the robots by the grinding dust is enormous. Furthermore, in the 1,440 minutes of a complete working day, the maximum daily downtime allowed for cleaning the system or replacing worn abrasives is just five minutes. “The fact that we were nonetheless able to achieve this incredible availability is primarily due to the proverbial quality of the Yaskawa robots that serve uncomplainingly, even when exposed to massive quantities of grinding dust. For these six-axis robots, failure is an unknown concept - even in three-shift operation under such extreme conditions,” says Alexander Steiger.

The automotive supplier that mass-produces the aluminum structural components for one of Germany’s leading automotive manufacturers is clearly satisfied by AutomationsRobotic’s pioneering robotic grinding cell, as is shown by the recent follow-up orders. “We have received an order to build more grinding systems in 2015. Our minor gamble in accepting such a challenging project has fully paid off. To our immense relief, we managed to complete it to the full satisfaction of our customer. With this motivation to spur us on, we are now embarking on the construction of the new robotic cells,” agree Walter Schaffhauser and Alexander Steiger.

Thanks to the RoboSAFE functions, Comau robots can interact with humans in a safer and direct way, without changing their operating performances

Thanks to the RoboSAFE functions, Comau robots can interact with humans in a safer and direct way, without changing their operating performances
The future of industrial robots is increasingly closer to mankind. This vision is supported by fast technological advances achieved through ‘safe’ applications, where the collaboration between humans and machines is made safer and easier, even during complex and burdensome production processes.This goal is also shared by the Comau Robotics division that, in the recent years, has been producing even more collaborative and human-friendly articulated robots.
Thanks to specific software and hardware components designed in collaboration with partner companies such as Heidenhain and B&R, Comau now offers its robots in a ‘safe’ version. The RoboSAFE functions adopted by Comau SMART robots allow companies to limit the speed and action areas inside the robotic cell, ensuring that the machine cannot impede the movements of the operators or be dangerous for them.

When humans work with robot

The RoboSAFE functions developed by Comau operate through the use of dynamic parameters which can be turned on or off in a flexible way. Security sensors detect the human presence in the cell and, when necessary, they slow down the robot movements or prevent it to enter into a given area without ever interrupting the production cycle. This allows the operators to enter the working area of the robot inside the cell safely and without operational pauses. This is an extremely important feature because, even in industrial applications where automation is particularly extensive, it is never possible to do completely without the contribution of humans.
RoboSAFE means that the robot can adapt to the presence of the operators on the line without being dangerous for their work and keeping the same productive efficiency - from the programming phase of the robot to the start of a production cycle, until service operations or technical interventions. However, these are not the only advantages of RoboSAFE. Controlling the speed of the robot avoids risky interactions between human and machine, and reducing its stopping space significantly increases the reaction time of the operator.

Safe even in 3D

The recent functional advances, thanks to which Comau robots can operate in the ‘safe’ mode, enable the operators to control the movements even inside the Cartesian space. The robotic cell is virtually divided in zones with different degrees of criticality, in which the robot can behave differently depending on the type of violation committed by the operator.
The development of the RoboSAFE functions has resulted in a safe limitation of portions of 3D space. If, for example, the operator accesses working areas which are considered non-critical, what is programmed is not the stopping of the machine, but only a reduction of its speed. The robot can then carry out its production cycle in an area of the cell, while the operator can access another one to take care of maintenance or solve technical problems.
The safe limitation of the Cartesian space provided by RoboSAFE acts through three different operating modes: the robot can be limited inside a specific area, it can be programmed not to invade an area defined as ‘forbidden’, or it can be enabled to generate a safe warning alert when the TCP is inside the workspace.Specific control parameters also allow a safe limitation of the movements of tools which may be used by the robot during the application. In addition, they can predict the stopping distance in advance with respect to the limit. This allows operators to simplify the risk analysis, which is an important part of the project for the safety of an automated cell.

A simpler factory

Optimizing the layouts of industrial plants by reducing their operational footprint results in more efficient work and sustainability for the companies. In this sense, the application of the RoboSAFE functions allows a rationalization of the work area occupied by the robot. This means that the robotic cell does not necessarily need to be protected by a cage as large as the entire operational area of the robot, and it can occupy a more compact space.
The use of Comau SMART robots in the ‘safe’ mode can efficiently solve the problems caused by the human-machine interaction that occurs during industrial applications. This enables the removal of physical barriers that were previously placed in the cell, thus saving space in the plants thanks to a more rationalized layout. This represents a very important added value for companies, which can now work in smaller spaces in complete safety.

Comau and the collaborative robot of the future

Comau’s collaborative robots require the use of specific management tools and controllers. In particular, a programming station and a control unit capable of interfacing with the machine in the ‘safe’ applications.There are no programming differences between a work cycle with a robot in the ‘safe’ version and a normal one. What changes is the presence of specific interfaces for the security parameters in the software of the TP5 and C5G, which can be activated and managed by the operator and enabled via computer.
Today, all the new Comau robots - including the new compact Racer 7-1,4 and Racer 999 - are designed to operate in the safety mode. In addition, there are other models with various payloads which will be redesigned.
Compared to what happened in the past, the RoboSAFE functions allow humans to be even closer to the machine during industrial processes. Yet Comau continues to invest in research to ensure that its robots can become even more collaborative and safe. In the future, for example, Comau would like to be able to control not only the speed and the workspace of the robot, but also its strength. The company also envisions a time in which it is possible to manage manage totally shared human-machine workspaces, where the machine can interact adapting autonomously depending on the proximity of the operators.

At a formal ceremony, SCHUNK, the competence leader for clamping technology and gripping systems opened a new China Headquarters in Shanghai. SCHUNK wants to push ahead with investment, and expand its local presence in China, emphasized Henrik A. Schunk, Managing Partner of SCHUNK, in his opening speech. 

At a formal ceremony, SCHUNK, the competence leader for clamping technology and gripping systems opened a new China Headquarters in Shanghai. SCHUNK wants to push ahead with investment, and expand its local presence in China, emphasized Henrik A. Schunk, Managing Partner of SCHUNK, in his opening speech.
Since 2003, SCHUNK has been represented in China with its own subsid-iary, and has grown consistently since that time. Henrik A. Schunk calls the new headquarters an important milestone in the 70-years history of the family-owned company. With the opening ceremony "a new era of SCHUNK begins in the Chinese market", said the entrepreneur. The new location offers three decisive advantages: "More room for the growing number of Chinese staff, closer to the customer, and more know-how transfer through the new SCHUNK Tech Center."
With the help of proper functioning robot cells, visitors can experience live what kind of effects can be achieved by using SCHUNK components. Moreover, workshops and practical trainings will be regularly offered by experienced technical experts. "One of our most important objectives in China is to be on the spot when the customer needs us," explained Henrik A. Schunk. A long-term goal of SCHUNK is to strengthen and expand the market leadership for clamping technology and gripping systems worldwide. In this China will be a third pillar alongside Europe and USA, said Mr. Schunk.

Lion dance and Smart Factory Summit

About 150 guests, including top companies in the field of robotics and production, partici-pated at the opening ceremony. In his speech, Dr. Simon Du, General Manager of SCHUNK Intec China, praised the outstanding commitment of the Schunk family of entrepreneurs. The new Chinese headquarters, with all of its possibilities, offers excellent opportunities for sales, distribution, and comprehensive customer service, said Dr. Du.
After the ceremonial cutting of the blue SCHUNK ribbon, the guests were enterntained with a traditional Chinese lion dance. Before these two fanciful lions started their fight for fortune, Henrik A. Schunk and Dr. Simon Du painted on their eyes and handed them the so-called "Hong Bao", a finely decorated red envelope filled with money, which is supposed to bring good fortune to SCHUNK as well. With the following SCHUNK Smart Factory Summit, SCHUNK offered a technological "delicacy" to their guests.
Leading professionals gave a lecture on the latest developments and knowledge in the field of the Smart Factory. According to Henrik A. Schunk this is the future. "As a leading full range supplier of robot components we want to show users, plant builders, and system integrators new ways to exploit the comprehensive productivity potential of modern robotics". said Schunk.

Adept Technology, Inc. has launched Lynx Enterprise Manager 1100, a new fleet management system for Adept's Lynx autonomous intelligent vehicles (AIVs). This system controls up to 100 robots for large deployments in manufacturing, warehousing/logistics and semiconductor.

April 2014
Adept Technology, Inc. has launched Lynx Enterprise Manager 1100, a new fleet management system for Adept’s Lynx autonomous intelligent vehicles (AIVs). Lynx Enterprise Manager 1100 controls all aspects of operating a fleet of Lynx mobile robots, coordinating as many as 100 vehicles simultaneously to enable large-scale deployments for warehousing/logistics, manufacturing and semiconductor applications.
"Adept Lynx AIVs are an effective, autonomous method for moving goods throughout large warehouses and factories, improving efficiency and flexibility, and lowering costs," said Michael Oitzman, senior product line manager of Mobile Robots at Adept. "Lynx Enterprise Manager 1100 is a powerful, easy-to-deploy platform that can manage every aspect of a substantial Lynx mobile robot workforce."
Lynx AIVs provide rapid, traceable material movement in highly dynamic environments such as warehouses, distribution centers and factories. Unlike traditional AGV systems, Lynx vehicles intelligently self-navigate, avoiding obstacles and selecting the best path to complete a task. The Lynx Enterprise Manager 1100 is a powerful tool for controlling a Lynx fleet, coordinating vehicle configuration, task allocation and traffic control, and interfacing with a user’s existing enterprise management system.

IPA

To work directly together with humans, a robot needs to be flexible and soft. Conventional systems are insufficiently flexible for this purpose.

Scientists at Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA see promising solutions in so-called soft robotics. They have developed hardware modules for a safe, flexible robot system and have made them publicly available in the form of a toolkit. Robotics researchers and developers can use the components to quickly and easily implement their own robot systems while benefiting from the knowledge of a growing community of developers.

With the kit it is possible to build robot systems with components that resemble biological limbs, such as arms and legs, in terms of their construction and operation. They have carbon-fibre-reinforced “bones” with built-on compliant “muscles”, the force of which is transmitted by a sophisticated system of “joints” and “tendons”. Sensors with local signal processing units allow the systems to perceive stimuli and to react to their environment in a reflex-like manner.

The advantages of flexible systems

Like the humans on whom they are modelled, the robots are capable of storing energy and absorbing impacts. They are thus designed to cope with unforeseen influences from their environment, such as when they are operated by hand. This makes direct interaction more pleasant and safer. In future, this technology will be able to be used in areas shared by humans and machines, such as household or rehabilitation robotics.

The toolkit is ready to use

Inspired by a biological model, the robot system is the result of the EU project “Myorobotics”, in which Fraunhofer IPA was responsible for developing the mechanical hardware. The three-year project came to an end in February 2015. With the ready-to-use toolkit, the scientists have brought the project to a successful conclusion. The goal now is to present the concept to a wider audience, as well as to demonstrate and expand the diverse application possibilities.

From mid-March, the basics of the technology, such as files for 3D printing and the instruction manual for building the robot modules, will be freely available online to potential users. Alternatively, there are also plans to sell ready-to-use hardware components.

Wide circle of users expected

When designing the toolkit, the scientists selected easily available or producible components. In addition to being simple to assemble, the robot systems are of low-cost and modular. This allows users to put them together to suit their own particular requirements. The fact that the systems are easily configurable and simple to operate means that only little knowledge of robotics is required. This makes the systems attractive not only for roboticists, but also to a wider circle of users in research and development.

“The wider the circle of users, the more feedback we will receive on how to improve the toolkit,” says Christophe Maufroy, project manager at Fraunhofer IPA, as he looks forward to the numerous experience reports he hopes to receive. “The goal is to widen our know-how and to increasingly adapt the technology to the needs of different users,” adds Maik Siee, research fellow in the “Robot and Assistance Systems” department, in anticipation of future developments.
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IFR Press Releases

Robots and people working together.

Dear Reader,

Robots and people working together. This will assume a key role in advancing intelligent production, concluded the participants of the IFR CEO Round Table discussion at the Automate 2015 in Chicago. It will open up new applications and new customers for the robotics industry.

I just returned from the Automate 2015 in Chicago. It demonstrated the strength of robotics and automation with exhibitors and visitors from all over the world. The exhibition space has considerably increased as well as the interest of the visitors. On the first day of the exhibition, we could announce the first results of the global robot installations in 2014. Global demand of industrial robots went off in 2014 and 225,000 units, by far the highest level ever recorded for one year. Driver of the growth was again Asia, particularly China.

The ISR 2015 at the Automate provided outstanding keynotes and gave insights on advancements of robotics and automation.
I was very much impressed of the two winners of the Joseph Engelberger Award 2015. Dean Kamen, inventor, entrepreneur, and tireless advocate for science and technology, won the Engelberger Award for Leadership. His keynote speech at the ISR dinner inspired the audience, especially his activities to motivate the next generation to understand, use and enjoy science and technology.

The second winner was Raffaelo D’Andrea. He was awarded the 2015 Engelberger Award for Technology. He was co-founder of KIVA Systems, a robotics company that revolutionized material handling by deploying thousands of autonomous mobile robots in warehouses. He currently is Professor of Dynamic Systems and Control at ETH Zurich, where his research redefines what autonomous systems are capable of.

We are now looking forward to the CIROS 2015 in Shanghai (8-11 July). The IFR-CRIA CEO Round Table will be organized on 7 July 2015. It will be a discussion of robot suppliers and robot users.

Best regards

Arturo Baroncelli
IFR President

Case Studies Industrial

Hörle Automatic manufactures components for the automobile industry among others. The company has a wide range of machinery to enable fast and efficient production of both large and small volumes.

March, 2015

Challenge

Hörle Automatic manufactures components for the automobile industry among others. The company has a wide range of machinery to enable fast and efficient production of both large and small volumes. It also manufactures prototypes and small batches, and tests new methods and tools. For Hörle it is important to work with Lean production, and to maintain a leading position in terms of quality and process knowledge. Previously the company has been primarily engaged in pipe work and machining.

Solution

The acquisition of the subcontractor Vaggeryds Svets means that capacity has now been expanded with a complete welding shop. The welding shop includes two ArcSystem arc welding cells. A demonstration of ArcWorld at Yaskawa Nordic showed that the compact robot cell would be an excellent supplement to the two arc welding cells.

Results

With two stations in the ArcWorld cell, there is great potential to adapt the production flow according to the product mix, either running two different products or two different operations on the same product.

Getting production underway only required a two-day initial training course for two operators, however, the welding shop already had considerable experience of welding robots. The robot cell didn’t take long to install on site and has functioned unproblematically since then, usually in two shifts.

For Hörle Automatic, ArcWorld is quite simply a flexible robot cell which contributes to maintaining a large product mix and short delivery times.

Case Studies Industrial

In the past, freshly welded components for exhaust gas systems for a major automation supplier were measured in a tactile measuring machine and tested for leaks in a separate, manual inspection gauge.

March, 2015

A fully automatic system from Ziemann & Urban now performs this task during the cycle time of the welding robot - and thus more than 20 times faster than previously. This is made possible by a Motoman robot from Yaskawa, equipped with a stereo camera head.

Welded components for vehicle exhaust gas systems must satisfy stringent requirements in terms of dimensional accuracy and gas tightness. Quality assurance in this field is correspondingly important - and often time-consuming. The complete measurement of all required parameters calls for a measurement laboratory with a tactile measuring machine and takes around 15 minutes.

The fully automatic inspection solution developed and implemented for a supplier to one of the world’s largest car manufacturers by system supplier Ziemann & Urban GmbH Prüf- und Automatisierungstechnik, based in Moosinning near Munich, works with the same degree of precision, but much faster. Within a matter of seconds, it identifies the component by means of a laser-scanned data matrix code, performs a 3D measurement of the geometrical characteristics in the vehicle coordinate system and carries out a leak test, even for components with complex shapes. The inspection can thus be completed within the cycle time of the welding robot.

The system is a fully integrated and self-contained special inspection machine. It performs the 100-percent measurement of the components to correspond exactly with the production cycle of the robotic welding equipment, i.e. with a cycle time of approximately 40 seconds per component. The inspection booth is designed as a solid welded steel frame with service doors and thus suitable for use in the harsh conditions of an automated welding shop in 3-shift operation. The components to be inspected pass through this inspection cell on a conveyor system with a total of ten component-specific workpiece carriers. For the purpose of traceability these are fitted with RFID tags that can be read at each inspection position. The workpiece carriers are lifted off in a defined manner at two inspection positions.

3D measurement with robot-guided camera head

The 3D measurement is carried out at the first position by a stereo camera head. The system combines two high-resolution GigE cameras with LED ring lights that can be flashed separately for incident illumination and a class 2M cross line laser. Each of the two cameras - calibrated to each other - takes a picture of the same feature.

A 6-axis Motoman MH5 LF robot from Yaskawa ensures that the cameras can reliably reach every point on the component: installed in an inverted position, the extremely flexible jointed-arm robot rotates completely around the component. It approaches a total of over 20 specified features of the component such as sockets, flanges and holder plates, by point-to-point motions to enable the corresponding measurement points to be recorded by the cameras. The measurement resolution is 0.05 mm (50 µm).

A reference measurement is carried out before each measuring operation to ensure absolute positioning accuracy of the robot. In addition, the operator can quickly and easily verify at any time that the system is fully functional, for example after a change of shift or maintenance. A series part firmly screwed to a workpiece carrier serves as a reference point. The latter must be loaded manually and is automatically detected by the robot. For calibration purposes, the reference component has a separate table of values with stricter tolerances.

The ZU-Vision image processing software from Ziemann & Urban uses the customer’s 3D vehicle coordinate system as a basis for each measuring point. The component-specific system points, the so-called reference point system (RPS), are virtually calculated back to the nominal position. The system uses the results of this transformation for automatic correction of the remaining measurement points. This means that the components can be positioned relatively imprecisely on the workpiece carriers without affecting the measurement accuracy. This greatly simplifies loading of the system, which is currently carried out manually.

Leak-testing and visualization

Leak-testing of large-volume components is performed at the second inspection position. In the first step, all flanges and connections are sealed with cylinders. Each component requires ten of them - an unusually high number. A calibrated laminar flow meter then checks the component for possible leaks using compressed air. Faulty parts are automatically marked with a printed “Rework” label specifying the nature of the fault. These NOK parts are subsequently ejected separately at a defined position. OK parts are automatically transported on the workpiece carriers to the unloading position and transferred to the next processing stage.

For statistical evaluation and complete traceability of the individual parts, the measurement results for every component are stored as separate files in the customer’s CAQ system. In addition to the component number and ID of the workpiece carrier on which the component was inspected, the file also contains all nominal dimensions, actual dimensions and tolerances of the measured values.

As measuring equipment, the inspection system is subjected to a measurement system analysis (MSA) for machine capability (measurement system capability index Cg/Cgk) and repeatability (%RR/GRR). All calibration operations are fully automated. Just like other sensitive and function-critical setting steps, they are protected against unauthorized access by means of multi-level user management.

In the course of cyclical measurement and test equipment monitoring, after every component the system performs a reference measurement at the home position of the robot. This ensures self-monitoring of the system. The measurement results supplied are thus verified. Deviations, e.g. resulting from a robot crash, loosening of a camera/lens or other mechanical deviations, are detected immediately. The system issues a warning and stops automatically.

PC-based control and visualization functions are carried out by the ZU-Control software on a 19” industrial computer with an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). The system is operated using a swivel-mounted 23” touch screen control panel. In addition to system visualization, a measurement value history can be retrieved on the touch screen. The individual system parts communicate with each other using EtherCAT and TCP/IP.

Summary and outlook

With a fully automatic inspection system for welded components, Ziemann & Urban GmbH Prüf- und Automatisierungstechnik offers a much faster alternative to conventional, tactile component inspection. A flexible Yaskawa Motoman handling robot forms an integral part of the solution. It ensures that the camera head can reliably reach all of the more than 20 measuring points. The system has already been designed to accommodate future modifications and expansions: with its simple workpiece carriers and the versatile robot, the concept offers great flexibility for future component variants. For new or modified features, new points can be added to, or modified in, the robot program and image processing system with little effort. Furthermore, the system is also already equipped for automatic loading by robots in the event of increasing batch sizes.

Case Studies Industrial

Aebi Schmidt, market leader in road de-icing solutions, has taken a major step in automating the production of its salt spreaders by investing in a Valk Welding welding robot system.

March, 2015

The Dutch location in Holten took this step after deciding to place the production back under its own management. The new system, which consists of four workstations operated by two welding robots, is configured for a capacity of two to three thousand salt sprayers a year. Valk Welding delivered the entire system on a turnkey basis, including the robot programs for the first products, DTPS offline programming software for maximum programming flexibility, training for the programmers and operators, wire feed systems for both robot systems and Valk Welding’s own welding wire for a consistent welding process.

In one of Aebi Schmidt’s large production halls in Holten the 32 metre welding robot system immediately underlines the high-tech nature of the manufacturer of salt spreaders, Schmidt road sweeping machines and multifunctional vehicles. With their streamlined, modern design, their sustainable construction and innovative technology, the salt spreaders are situated at the high end of the market. Up until recently only the assembly took place at the Dutch location, where the salt sprayers are built for the European market, and the welding was outsourced to suppliers. When the company was taken over by the Swiss Aebi in 2008, the new strategy resulted in a drastic change being made to the production and assembly process. Third-parties were used only for the plating components. From then on the assembly and coating were carried out under the company’s own management.

The need for welding automation

The production management in Holten quickly found itself facing a problem owing to the shortage of professional welders. Welding automation was therefore given the highest priority alongside the investment in a powder coating plant. Head of procurement Harald Bloemers: “We approached five parties for this purpose, two of which immediately dropped out because they were unable to meet our requirements. As well as assessing the test welds, the service organisation, the number of installed welding robot systems and the conditions, we focused sharply on what the robot integrators were able to offer in the programming area. It was also important to click with the new supplier. The demo at Valk Welding went more smoothly than with the other candidate and we immediately had more confidence in Valk Welding’s offline programming.”

Welding robots on two 16 m tracks

Valk Welding built a double system consisting of welding robots suspended on a 16 metre track, each of which operated two 7.5 metre work stations. While a complete chassis was welded on one station, the next chassis was clamped on the station next to it. That made it possible to operate the welding robots virtually continuously. The double design created sufficient capacity to complete the annual production in a 1-shift roster. Some 15 to 20 chassis are produced a day during peak season.

Offline programming

The turnkey delivery included the programming of the largest components, such as the single chassis for the salt spreaders, so that Aebi Schmidt was able to get down to work as soon as the welding robot system was commissioned. Two employees of Aebi Schmidt had already received operator and programming training during the assembly phase at Valk Welding in Alblasserdam. These programmers are now working on the welding programs for the other components the company plans to weld with the welding robots. Harald Bloemers: “The 3D CAD data of the individual components is imported in DTPS, and the components are then placed in the jig, after which the position of the welding torch, the torch angle and the right welding parameters are programmed. The offline programming software has a short learning curve: the programmers were quickly able to use it. Knowledge is also exchanged with other programmers during the annual users club at Valk Welding. DTPS is a perfect tool because everything can be prepared externally outside of production and every detail can be programmed with great precision. Most of the programmes can be used virtually unchanged directly on the welding robot. We will need to programme a total of between six and seven hundred different program ourselves, and we’ve now completed about 30% of them.”

No more need for temps

“The double capacity means that we can complete the welding work with a fixed team of employees without having to take on extra temps. Also, both of the cells have sufficient buffer capacity to absorb any additional growth. Even more importantly, we are now able to achieve a consistent welding quality, which is a big gain compared to manual welding, especially for the larger lengths,” explains Harald Bloemers.

Complete system from one supplier

“Valk Welding has a lot of welding and robot know-how, and a great deal of experience with offline programming. That was the combination that swung it for us. It is also important that Valk Welding supplies a complete system. Since we can obtain everything from a single supplier, including the welding wire, we also have just one point of contact that bears the responsibility.”

Case Studies Industrial

At opsira GmbH, innovative goniophotometers are becoming reality using KUKA robotsThe multi-functional “robogonio” light meter:

March, 2015

The multi-functional “robogonio” light meter: That is what opsira GmbH - based in Weingarten, Germany - placed on the market about three years ago. Named by fusing the words “robot” and “goniophotometer” together, the robogonio measures the angle-dependent luminous intensity distribution of a light source or lighting and combines the advantages of industrial robotics with modern light measuring technology. Since 1999, opsira has been a full-service provider for the optics and lighting industry and currently has 16 employees. With “robogonio”, opsira is strengthening the business unit for measurement systems. In doing so, the manufacturer of light measurement systems relies on different KUKA robots of all sizes. This enables exact measurement of even the smallest LEDs, car headlights, traffic signals such as stoplights or railroad crossing signals, through to the airfield lighting fixtures at takeoff and landing runways at airports.

robogonio - a goniophotometer for different types of measurements

In lighting technology, goniophotometers are the standard measurement method and have now been in use for over 100 years. The conventional design comprises the mechanical goniom eter configuration with a horizontal and vertical axis for rotating the test item (e.g. a front headlight of an automobile) as well as a photometer which measures the light intensity. In recent years, the requirements for goniophotometers have increased as systems have become lighting technically more complex and compact and as optical design tools have become more powerful.

While traditional goniophotometers are very limited in their application and require different machines and test methods for near and far fields, the “robogonio” combines the advantages of different conventional goniometer types. The “robogonio” uses the robot’s six axes for the positioning of the test item as well as for angle manipulation that is high precision and reliable. The high number of mechanical degrees of freedom enables measurements in the traditional A, B or even C planes using a measurement system and thus combines goniometer types 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3 into one device according to DIN EN 13032-1. Depending on the configuration, goniometer types 2.x, 3 and 4 are also possible. In concrete terms, the “robogonio” can thus measure luminous intensity and radiant intensity distributions (EULUMDAT, IES, etc.) color distribution or even luminance distribution (glare).

Top-end accuracy

Thanks to the combination of different measurement techniques, reliable data from light sources can be gathered as a basis for the optical design process and all measurements can be carried over to the resulting products such as lamps, headlights or signal lights. “By linking the classic goniophotometer with an industrial robot, we have become significantly more flexible as well as significantly more robust. Beyond that, there is a considerable improvement in accuracy,” explains Jürgen P. Weißhaar, CEO of opsira GmbH, regarding the advantages of the “robogonio”. The robot’s high repeatability and precision are essential for the precise angle positioning of the “robogonio”. This innovative solution has been TÜV certified and the angular accuracy value of 0.005 degrees has been officially confirmed. “That puts us at the top end,” adds Weißhaar.

High scalability thanks to the broad portfolio of KUKA Roboter GmbH

As a result of the decision for KUKA Roboter GmbH, opsira can offer its customers the entire product portfolio. The scalability ranges from solutions with the KR AGILUS small robot series through to the use of KR 6 and KR 30 robot types and onto the medium payload range of the KR QUANTEC series. Solutions with the KR FORTEC or KR 1000 titan product families - which belong to the heavy-duty category - are also possible. This makes the “robogonio”, despite its size, very flexible - ranging from a payload of 6 kilograms with a 700 millimeter reach to a payload of 1,300 kilograms with a 3,000 millimeter reach - so that it can be adjusted to the individual needs of the customer. With payloads of 6 or 10 kilograms, the “robogonio” is the ideal solution for measuring both small light sources such as LEDs as well as small luminaires. In the automotive industry, “robogonios” are used for 90 kilograms or even 120 kilograms, if complex front headlight systems must be measured. Each “robogonio” features exceptional high angle repeatability while simultaneously achieving extremely high measurement velocity.

Innovative solution approach with clear advantages

The innovative solution approach of the robot-based light measurement system was developed jointly with KUKA and offers clear advantages compared to conventional goniophotometers. “Our customers appreciate the wide selection of different goniophotometer sizes as well as the flexible uses for different applications both in near and far-field goniophotometry. The investment thus covers all measurements required for lighting technology - from the light source to the finished lighting,” reports Weißhaar in discussing his experience with the market.

Besides the high number of mechanical degrees of freedom and the associated sampling at different levels, the “robogonio” can be used to warm up the test item in the working position. For this, the light measurement system first holds the test item in its typical working position (e.g. in a position horizontal to the ground). At the start of the measurement, the test item is then automatically rotated into the measurement direction and brought into the first angle position. The “robogonio” is thus ideally suited to meet the new lighting measurement standard EN13032-4.

Even the test methods for measuring the increasingly popular LED linear luminaires (e.g. for ambient or door lighting in automobile interiors) can be carried out with the “robogonio”. It can thus quickly adapt to current market trends and flexibly shape them as well. The “robogonio” is also just as flexible when used in rooms, laboratories or production halls: Its pivot point can be selected anywhere in the room, and it can be installed vertically or horizontally. “The “robogonio” is our product of the future. Thanks to this innovative technology, we can meet current market trends without any problem, remain absolutely competitive in terms of price and offer light source and lighting manufacturers added value in terms of flexibility and accuracy,” notes Weißhaar as he ponders the future.

The EGP from SCHUNK has the most compact performance of any electric small part gripper on the market. SCHUNK has expanded the EGP series with the addition of the smaller size 25.

The EGP from SCHUNK has the most compact performance of any electric small part gripper on the market. SCHUNK has expanded the EGP series with the addition of the smaller size 25. The small, speedy gripper weighs 110 g and has a stroke of 3 mm per finger. The gripping force can be adjusted on 2 stages and its maximum gripping force is 40 N. The gripper can handle workpieces up to 200 g, making it as efficient as its pneumatic counterpart. Its closing time amounts to 0.09 s and it is the smallest representative of electric small part grippers with integrated electronics of its kind. The maintenance-free servo motors are brushless and equipped with efficient cross roller guidance.

The mechatronic gripper is based on the platform of the proven pneumatic MPG-plus small part gripper, offering many advantages. In most cases, the us-ers can transfer the sensor system of the MPG-plus onto the EGP and existing systems can be quickly changed from pneumatic to electronic. Actuation is done analogous to the MPG-plus digitally or by a sensor distributor. The MPG-plus and the EGP can be mounted from the side or the bottom, which increases the flexibility of the design. In order to increase dynamics and energy efficien-cy, the gripper housing is made of special high-performance aluminum. The EGP fits seamlessly into the SCHUNK program for modular high-performance assembly. It complies with protection class IP30 and is suitable for various ap-plications in the field of small part handling and assembly.

The UK food industry has developed an increased interest in robots. Over the last 12 months FANUC has seen enquiries from food manufacturers looking to automate their food handling and packing operations increase by 35%.

The UK food industry has developed an increased interest in robots. Over the last 12 months FANUC has seen enquiries from food manufacturers looking to automate their food handling and packing operations increase by 35%. Spurring on the food industry, FANUC aims to inspire manufacturers with the development of a food picker cell (live at the PPMA Show, stand C50) combining both articulated arm and delta style food grade robots.
"Food manufacturers face a number of challenges in their production operations," comments John Rainer, Regional Sales Manager of FANUC UK. "In a manual process, they must deal with ergonomic issues, labour availability and the uncertainty of increasing costs associated with legislation. In an automated process, accommodating rapid-fire product and pack changes driven by sustainability initiatives and shelf impact, as well understanding and improving key performance measures such as Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), are key. And in any process, food safety is an overriding concern on the minds of processors, as the consequences of foodborne illness and/or massive product recalls have affected a wide range of food categories."
FANUC’s latest robots have been designed specifically to work in the harshest of environments, and in addition to being smaller, stronger and faster, they incorporate the latest vision technology to improve the robot’s ‘sight’. "We’ve strengthened the business case for robot adoption by providing the necessary functionality that a food producer needs," said John.
Although the cost of a robot has reduced (for example the cost of FANUC’s latest palletiser is 7% lower compared to its predecessor, yet has a 12% increase in payload capacity), this alone hasn’t improved their viability in the food industry comments John, "Many barriers to entry have been address, for example only in the last 12-18 months have we made available IP69K certified robots to meet the toughest of hygiene standards." Over the course of the last 10 years, food manufacturers have faced greater pressure to adhere to increasingly stringent levels of compliance, whether responding to individual Retailer Codes of Practice (COP) or the latest requirements set out by the British Retail Consortium. "Manufacturers looking to improve hygiene, by removing the uncertainty that the human element brings to the equation, have been driving the need for food-grade robots," comments John.
FANUC’s food picker cell includes new iRPickTool software which simplifies setup for line trackingThe food picker cell (measuring 4x2.2m and 2.35m tall) designed to orientate and pack a wide variety of unpackaged and packaged foods, incorporates a ceiling mounted four axis M3iA/6s delta style loading robot. Capable of 120 picks per minute, this robot has a 6kg payload and a work envelope of 0.5m deep by 1.350m diameter. With its white epoxy finish and food grade grease, the arm can withstand tough cleaning regimes which use acid and alkaline products.
"The incredible pace at which vision technology is developing, now with a more economical price tag, greatly improves the accuracy of sorting, picking and placing countless food objects randomly placed across numerous lines," said John. Visual line tracking used by the M3iA/6S to locate the parts, incorporates integrated queue management, so that up to four robots can be directed by a single FANUC iRVision camera. The picker cell also uses FANUC’s new iRPickTool software which simplifies setup for line tracking systems and minimises programming for customers with picking applications. The software divides incoming product so that each robot in the system picks an equal number of products. It can also assign a specific percentage of products for each robot to pick.
At the other end of the cell, an M430iA/2P articulated arm robot demonstrates a typical unloading scenario removing products from the trays back onto the conveyor. Mountable in a variety of positions including floor, wall or invert, the six axis M430 maximises flexibility for tight workspaces and can also complete 120 cycles per minute.
Now with energy reducing technology built into all FANUC products to reduce power usage with savings in the region of 20%+, and guaranteed 25 year parts availability (including obsolescence avoidance solutions), there’s never been a better time for food producers to invest in robotics.

Schunk

Friendly and likeable. Invisible when not needed.

On call around the clock. The butler of the future - called “Care-O-bot® 4” - was developed by the Frauenhofer IPA in Stuttgart, and celebrates its world premiere at the SCHUNK Expert Days on Service Robotics. The modular design of Care-O-bot® 4 allows diverse configurations and application scenarios.

“Its high degree of standardization makes Care-O-bot® 4 a milestone in the field of mobile service robots,” emphasized Henrik A. Schunk, managing partner of SCHUNK GmbH & CO. KG in Lauffen am Neckar. Both the arm joints and the 1-finger hand of the Care-O-bot® 4 are taken from SCHUNK’s standardized modules for mobile gripping systems. “Since service robot solutions are generally used in mobile applications, the components have to be lightweight and energyefficient,” Schunk said. “Mobile gripping systems from SCHUNK are designed exactly for such scenarios. The components can be used both in industrial applications and in measuring and testing applications, as well as in assistance systems that support people in everyday life.”

Agile, modular, and affordable

While the predecessors of the Care-O-bot® 4 focused on object detection or safe navigation, an important step has now been taken in the direction of commercialization. “The fourth Care-O-bot® generation is not only more agile, more flexible and more charming than its predecessors, but also features more affordable construction principles,” said project manager Ulrich Reiser, team leader at the Fraunhofer IPA. The majority of the interior consists of folded sheet metal constructions, which can be manufactured cost-effectively even in small quantities.

Cost-optimized modular solutions

The modular concept allows diverse configurations. It is possible, for example, to eliminate one or both arms. Standardized SCHUNK Powerball ERB modules with a compact spherical form that facilitates integration are used as arm joints. The entire electronic control and regulation circuitry of these components are integrated in the joint drives. Position, speed, and torque can be flexibly regulated.

Since the supply lines for the gripper and tools are completely within the arms, there are no interfering cables on the peripheral devices. In-tegrated intelligence, universal communication interfaces, and cable technology for data transfer and power supply allow their use as single modules or as completely pre-configured SCHUNK Powerball lightweight arms for easy integration in higher level units, such as Care-O-bot® 4. For portable use, the modules operate by a 24 V DC power supply or even rechargeable batteries for complete mobility. The consistent lightweight construction and torque motors ensure low energy consumption. That lowers energy costs, provides for longer work periods when using rechargeable batteries and also allows the use of small-format batteries.

Different versions can be implemented

The costly ball joints of the Care-O-bot® 4 in the neck and hips, as well as many sensors, are optional. If the application only requires the serving of beverages, it would be possible to replace one hand with a tray or to only use the mobile base as a serving and transport cart. Individual adaptation to specific tasks creates economical solutions. One of the primary concerns of the development engineers was user-friendly handling, because most people are intimidated by robots, especially if they are hard to uses and program. An easily accessible interaction area on the head allows intuitive operation of the Care-O-bot® 4 and can be used in either sitting or standing position. Of course, interaction with the robot by means of words or gestures is also possible through the means of cameras and micro-phones for recognition of specific people through by their speech and gestures. The robot responds with gestures such as nodding or shaking of the head to signal whether it has un-derstood. Light effects and a laser pointer in the hand of the Care-O-bot® 4 also enable the exchange of information.

Successful symbiosis of design and engineering

“Care-O-bot® 4 is a successful symbiosis of design and engineering, of function and emotion that quickly moves the user to interaction,” said Andreas Haug, managing director of the Stuttgart-based design studio Phoenix Design, which was involved in the development process. With its streamlined design, the two arms and head help make the robot resemble a human being. An overly human appearance was not desired, however, because that would give the user “false expectations” according to Ulrich Reiser. Only the “inner values” are human: it always maintains a discreet distance, clearly indicates what it has understood and what it is about to do, has a command of simple gestures, and can even show emotions. Social behavior, as has been demonstrated in studies, is indispensable for acceptance by future users. While Care-O-bot® 3 was a butler, its successor is a gentleman.

Blue Ocean Robotics

Robo2 from Cleanfix, Switzerland is an autonomous floor cleaning robot used at facilities with large surface areas such as schools, hospitals, production or storage facilities, etc.

Robo2 from Cleanfix, Switzerland is an autonomous floor cleaning robot used at facilities with large surface areas such as schools, hospitals, production or storage facilities, etc.

Once installed the Robo2 merely needs to be filled with clean water and soap, and can then be set off to wash the floors of major surface areas. It can work autonomously for up to 3 hours. During these three hours it can clean up to 3000sqm.
Robo2 is particularly useful when cleaning personnel is present at the location as well.

Typical application scenario

In a school the cleaning operative starts Robo2 at its designated starting place. The robot sets off to clean the major surface areas and the cleaning operative cleans the stairs, corners, edges, door etc. By the time the robot has finished washing the surface areas the cleaning operative is also done with their tasks. They empty the water tank and leave the robot to recharge.
Using the Robo2 to clean the major surface areas frees up the time a cleaning operative would spend on cleaning the floor to do other tasks, eg. stairs, corners. As a result the human resources spent on cleaning will be reduced and the overall cleaning process becomes more efficient.

Robo2 robot eliminates the need in unskilled work of cleaning operatives, who usually work in shifts. With Robo2 the workers will only be responsible for the tasks the robot can’t perform. This will lead to the improvement of working conditions of the workers and create opportunity to use human work force more effectively.

Technical data

  • Autonomous driving based on a unique navigation system.
  • 66 cm working width
  • Up to 3 hours of autonom
  • 0,6 m/s operating speed
  • 45 l fresh/waste water capacity
  • Minimal need for manpower
  • Minimal use of water and solvent and therefore environmentally friendly.
  • Low-noise solution

Service

Blue Ocean Robotics is a reseller of Robo2 in and outside Denmark. Blue Ocean Robotics provides installation, implementation, basic training, support and repair of the technology.

IFR Press Releases

“Global demand for industrial robots in 2014 reached more than 200,000 units for the first time,” said Arturo Baroncelli, President of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) in Chicago.

“Strongest drivers of the growth were the automotive industry followed by the electronics industry. Based on the preliminary results of the global statistics on industrial robots, the IFR estimates that about 225,000 units were sold in 2014, 27% more than in 2013.” said Baroncolli.

New peak levels in all regions

The main impulse by region came from Asia, particularly from China and South Korea. In total, about 140,000 units were sold in Asia, by far the highest volume ever recorded. Robot sales to the Americas and to Europe also reached new peak levels.

Increase in all major markets - China and South Korea on top

China was again by far the largest market destination for industrial robots in 2014. About 56,000 units were sold, 54% more than in 2013. Thereof, Chinese robot suppliers delivered 16,000 units and the international robot suppliers delivered about 40,000 units. Due to considerable investments of the automotive industry, South Korea was the second largest destination with about 39,000 units. It was followed by Japan, the United States and Germany. The five largest robot markets represent 75% of the total global sales in 2014.

Blue Ocean Robotics in Denmark came up with a project to develop a new solution for construction industry - the wall mounting robot called WallMo. WallMo assists construction workers in mounting primarily glass walls but also gypsum walls, plasterboards and concrete elements in new office buildings.

Blue Ocean Robotics in Denmark came up with a project to develop a new solution for construction industry - the wall mounting robot called WallMo. WallMo assists construction workers in mounting primarily glass walls but also gypsum walls, plasterboards and concrete elements in new office buildings.

WallMo serves as a co-worker assistant to an operator in the indoor wall installation process. The robot handles heavy lifts and difficult transportation of the walls and thus improves working conditions of construction workers. The robot can fit in a service wagon and operates in a limited workplace.

Today glass plate stacks are delivered by crane to a needed floor. Two construction workers carry a 60-90 kg glass plate manually 10 - 50 m to the mounting place. Construction workers lift the glass panel by hand and mount it at the top by pushing the glass into a slit. Then they lift the glass with the help of a suction cup handle and push it down on the bottom slit.

With WallMo the mounting team consists of one operator and the WallMo co-robot. WallMo is prepared for transportation to the mounting site and is operated by only one worker. WallMo picks up the glass plate from the stack and transports it to the mounting site. It raises the glass plate up and installs it. The solution is maneuvered steadily and adjusted into the mounting position. The wheels operate safely in the construction site environments and do not damage the floor or door panels

The large-scale implementation of the WallMo leads to a paradigm shift in the construction industry. The co-worker robot and one construction worker in the near future will be able to do the job of two construction workers as of today with:

  1. A dedicated robot-solution developed specifically for the construction industry making it a perfect fit in price and performance and with a large scale deployment potential
  2. A smarter solution that increases productivity by 70% or more.
  3. A healthier solution as heavy loads and lifts can be carried out by a weight-compensating robot solution and not by a human worker. This reduces the physical stress and correspondingly prolongs the workers’ work life for many years. A comparison to business cases for social workers indicates a strong potential in this industry.

Blue Ocean Robotics brings WallMo to the market as a customized product for the construction industry. WallMo can carry the weight between 60-90 kg and operates the objects with dimensions of 90 x 270 cm. WallMo operates in a limited workspace (up to 1.3 meters) and can climb the stairs. The construction robot assistant is a cost-effective solution with an estimated payback time of 9-12 months.

Blue Ocean Robotics provides consultation, installation, implementation, basic training, support and repair of the WallMo robot.

IFR Press Releases

“Robots and People Working Together” - This was the topic of the 8th IFR CEO Round Table Discussion at the Automate in Chicago. The man-machine partnership will assume a key role in advancing intelligent production visions.

Initial applications have been realised in the automotive industry. A robot researcher Professor Henrik Christensen, Georgia Tech, discussed with CEOs of robot suppliers from Europe, America and Japan on challenges and chances of the human robot collaboration.

After the presentation of the latest figures on the global robot market by the IFR President Arturo Baroncelli, Comau, the panel discussion started.

On the panel:

  • Professor Henrik Christensen, Executive Director, Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines, Georgia Tech, USA
  • Rodney Brooks, Chairman and CTO, Rethink Robotics, USA
  • Phil Crowther, Global Product Manager Small Robots, ABB, China
  • Enrico Krog Iversen, CEO, Universal Robots, Denmark
  • Masahiro Ogawa, Chairman & CEO, Yaskawa America, USA
  • Stuart Shepherd, Vice President Sales Americas, KUKA US Holding, USA

The discussion was led by Bill Lydon, Editor of Automation.com & InTech Magazine, USA. The panelists emphasized the easy handling of the robots. No intensive training is necessary to operate different kinds of application. The new generation of operators grew up with computer technology and they catch up the features immediately. The discussion was followed by questions of the audience.

Further videos of the discussion are available on our YouTube Channel

Private and public elderly and health care facilities worldwide already face labour shortages and skyrocketing costs; and fiscally constrained governments must provide high-quality care for their seniors while keeping the costs down. Kyung Chul Shin, CEO of Yujin Robot, has been appointed as chairman of KOSDAQ (Korea Securities Dealers Automated Quotations) Listed Companies Association on February 11, 2015.

March 2015
Private and public elderly and health care facilities worldwide already face labour shortages and skyrocketing costs; and fiscally constrained governments must provide high-quality care for their seniors while keeping the costs down.

GoCart is the solution from Yujin Robot to lower cost and improve the quality of care in health and elderly care facilities. With that in mind, we automise the time-consuming task of transporting meals and other indoor supplies. This frees up time for staffs, allowing them to spend more time caring for patients and residents, while allowing care facilities to reduce their overall operational costs. At the same time, the health and elderly care staffs can spend their time for patients and residents and this will increase the level of patient experience.

GoCart, the first autonomous meal-transport robot designed to operate in all elderly and health care facilities, is a joint effort between two industry leaders; South Korea-based Yujin Robot and Sweden-based ScanBox. GoCart combines the latest autonomous navigation technology, 3D obstacle avoidance and connectivity technologies developed by Yujin Robot with state-of the-art meal transport containers developed by ScanBox. It maps the environment and uses an array of sensors and cameras to autonomously carry out its deliveries without interfering with people or other objects. In addition, depending on customer’s needs, GoCart will accompany different types of containers for different purposes.

With its IoT-based interface, GoCart can easily connects with any facility’s existing IT system and works with smartphones, tablets, PCs, and smart TVs and can control fleet of GoCart robots seamlessly.

After raising lots of interest during the GoCart demonstrations in the USA and Sweden during October and December 2015, the team now focuses on preparing field tests around the globe scheduled for Q3 2015 to prove GoCart’s feasibility and performance. GoCart will be globally available in the market in 2016.

CEO of Yuin Robot, Kyung Chul Shin, appointed as Chairman of KOSDAQ Listed Company Association

Kyung Chul Shin, CEO of Yujin Robot, has been appointed as chairman of KOSDAQ (Korea Securities Dealers Automated Quotations) Listed Companies Association on February 11, 2015.
In his acceptance speech Mr. Shin describes KOSDAQ’s members, who are high-tech companies, as the new driving force in Korea’s economy. While at the helm he aims to turn KOSDAQ into an ideal place for investors and employees by working closely with its member companies.

After receiving the new safety certificate from the Korea Testing Laboratory (KTL) our robots may now be sold on the Korean market. It is the ATEX in Europe, the FM in America and the TIIS in Japan. Korea now follows with its Korean Certification Mark (KC).

March 2014
After receiving the new safety certificate from the Korea Testing Laboratory (KTL) our robots may now be sold on the Korean market. It is the ATEX in Europe, the FM in America and the TIIS in Japan. Korea now follows with its Korean Certification Mark (KC).
All products that pose a risk to health, safety and environment have to be certified in order to be sold on the Korean market. It is compulsory to have installed and modified plants marked with the KC certificate.

Up until 2014 Dürr customers in Korea were able to obtain a KC certificate for a whole plant or installation by presenting the products’ ATEX certificates to a local agency. This kind of single certification was time consuming and expensive. There were 13 different certificates available to proof the safety of a product, all with different costs and different certification times. To consolidate the 13 already existing and legally binding certificates, the state organization Korean Agency for Technology and Standards (KATS) brought the KC certificate to life.
All commonly-used robot types from Dürr were tested and successfully certified:

  • Painting robot EcoRP E033
  • Painting robot EcoRP L033
  • Painting robot EcoRP E133
  • Painting robot EcoRP L133
  • Handling robot EcoRP L030
  • Handling robot EcoRP L130

The new KC certificate will increase the acceptance of Dürr robots in the Korean market.

Contact IFR Germany

Gudrun Litzenberger

IFR General Secretary
IFR Statistical Department

Lyoner Str. 18
60528 Frankfurt am Main
Phone: +49 69-6603-1502
Fax: +49 69-6603-2502
E-Mail: gl@ifr.org

Nina Kutzbach

Assistant IFR Statistical Department

Lyoner Str. 18
60528 Frankfurt am Main
Phone: +49 69-6603-1518
Fax: +49 69-6603-2518
E-Mail: nk@ifr.org

Silke Lampe

Assistant IFR Secretariat

Lyoner Str. 18
60528 Frankfurt am Main
Phone: +49 69-6603-1697
Fax: +49 69-6603-2697
E-Mail: sl@ifr.org