Please tell us briefly about
Universal Robots in terms of its size, its presence in various countries, its
With the intent of making robot technology accessible
to small and medium-sized enterprises, Universal Robots was officially founded
in 2005. Our first collaborative robot / cobot (UR5) was launched in 2008 and
since then we have experienced substantial growth. In 2010, the company
expanded its operations to include all of Europe and followed by a year in
2011, we entered the Asian market. In 2014, we established a subsidiary in
Barcelona, Spain and in 2015 a new subsidiary for the APAC region was opened in
Singapore. In 2016, Universal Robots opened its regional offices in Delhi and
Bangalore, India, Munich, Germany, and Prague, Czech Republic. We also
established our Sri Lanka and Bangladesh operations in 2016 and 2017
respectively. Our cobots are marketed internationally via an extensive network
of 200 distributors in 50 countries and so far, we have deployed around 21,000
cobots globally. We have been doubling every year for the last 2 years in
India. The multi-fold growth is attributed to high ROI rates and low price of
collaborative robots leading to growing attraction from SMEs, and increasing
investments in automation by industries to support Industry 4.0.
Throw some light on the company's
India journey and its presence in the automotive industry. Besides, the auto
industry which are the other industries where these cobots are in use?
As stated above, we entered the Indian market in
February 2016 and since then have been successful in deploying 400 cobots
majorly in the automotive industry and its ancillaries, followed by FMCG,
Electronics, and R&D centers. We believe that the Indian market has lot of
potential. The demand for cobots in India is increasing as Indian manufacturers
are looking forward to inculcating latest technologies in their production
How do you describe a cobot? How
different is it from a robot? What are the different features or
characteristics that differentiate the two?
Cobots are light – weight, easy to use robotic arms
and their latest technological advancement are in sync with Industry 4.0 –
automated revolution in manufacturing industry. Cobots are easy to program,
install and their collaborative in nature allows them to work side-by- side
with the workforce for high-quality output and handling them requires no special
training. They work as a ‘helping hand’ that helps the workforce in carrying
out monotonous tasks, increases productivity and efficiency. The primary goal
of Universal Robots is to empower workers by enabling them with smart
manufacturing solutions which involves the utilization of collaborative robots’
technology and automation.
The human-robot collaboration is different from
traditional robots. The idea is for humans and robots to be inter-dependent and
achieve what each of them does best, safely. There are a few things requiring
human ingenuity that are best done manually, whereas the accuracy, precision
and repetitive mass production at higher efficiency is best taken care of by
robots. These cobots provide an added incentive to the workforce as consistent
quality production is possible with human supervision. The company has seen the
evolution of robot arms from the UR3, UR5 and UR10, which are built for
respective payloads of 3kg, 5kg and 10kg.
UR3: The ultra-flexible Universal Robots UR3 delivers
high-precision accuracy for smaller production environments. The UR3 can
modulate payloads of up to 3 kg (6.6 lbs), bringing value to scientific,
pharmaceutical, agriculture, and electronics and technology facilities.
UR5: The lightweight and flexible Universal
Robots UR5 lets you automate repetitive and dangerous tasks with payloads of up
to 5 kg. Low-weight collaborative processes, such as: picking, placing and
testing are all perfect for the UR5. With a working radius of up to 850 mm, the
UR5 puts everything within reach, freeing up your employees’ time to add value
to other stages of the production.
UR10: The Universal Robots UR10 is our largest
industrial robot, designed for bigger tasks where precision and reliability are
still of paramount importance. Automate processes and tasks that weigh up to 10
kg. Heavier-weight collaborative processes, such as: packaging, palletizing,
assembly and pick and place are all well suited to the UR10. And with a reach
radius of up to 1300mm, the UR10 is designed to be more effective at tasks
across a larger area. This can save time on production lines where distance can
be a factor.
In the auto industry, in which
segment have these cobots become popular? Is it more in the bigger OEM segment
or the small and medium companies encompassing auto component players? Do name
a few clients in these different segments of the industry where you have a
The history of robotics has always been closely tied
to the automotive industry. In fact, in 1962 General Motors was the first-ever company to deploy industrial
robots and from the 1970s onwards, the whole automotive industry was
characterized by the comprehensive use of large robotic systems in their
production lines. The automotive industry has evolved and the customers are
increasingly demanding that their cars be customized and thus, batch sizes in
production are becoming smaller and smaller. For car manufacturers and all
their suppliers, this development means they always have to be prepared for
changes in their production layout in order to address the new changes in
customer demand. Therefore, next to precision and efficiency, flexibility has
also become a key factor in the industry. Flexibility, however, is not
considered a core competency of traditional industrial robots that stay bolted
down in a cage, dedicated to one task only. This is why many manufacturers are
now using collaborative robots in their production.
Although the need for flexibility is steadily gaining
importance for manufacturers, it is not the only reason why leading automotive
companies opt for cobots. The opportunity of releasing human employees from
strenuous and health-damaging activities is also an important factor. Not only
manufacturers, but also their suppliers count on cobots. Large multinational
companies are not the only examples from the industry that cobotized their
production, cobots are also finding their way into production lines at smaller
Robots work towards making robotic technologies accessible to small and medium
enterprises (SMEs). People in India,
especially the small and medium OEMs, still believe that robotic technology is
very expensive. But with cobots, there are many
reasons for its emergence: Manufacturers, (especially small and medium-sized
enterprises) are eager to adopt this technology because they can be placed
alongside humans in small-spaced electronics assembly lines, they are
affordable, highly adaptable, almost plug-and-play, and are flexible to handle
short runs, repetitive and boring jobs, and ergonomically challenging tasks.
Some analysts expect this segment will see massive growth in the next few
Application areas for car manufacturing robots:
Our three different collaborative robotic arms are
easily integrated into existing production environments in the automotive and
subcontractor industry. A robotic arm from Universal Robots can be used in
robotic car manufacturing systems just like any other car manufacturing or
automobile robot. They can be used in dangerous environments where high quality
and precision are business critical including: engine foundries, laser-cutting
rigs, forming presses, moulding machines and packaging and palletizing lines.
In addition, our cobots can also be used in screw driving, assembling,
labeling, handling and quality control process.
Bajaj Auto Ltd. saw a gradual rise in the productivity
and efficiency in their production. It also increased the productivity of their
employees along with their product quality after associating themselves with
Universal Robots. They have deployed over 150 cobots since 2010 and are now the
3rd largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. They are of the
view that the added benefits of the cobots are easy use, very low annual
maintenance and higher energy efficiency.
SMEW Textile Machinery
Pvt. Ltd. has been in the Textile Machine
Manufacturing since 1958. They collaborated with Universal Robots and deployed
their first UR10 robotic arm in January 2017. The UR cobots are used for pick
and place application. This was a new addition to the workforce but the
simplicity and operator friendly features of the cobots made the completion of
tasks easier and faster. For a 24-hour production, SMEW has deployed the UR10
by Universal Robots. This has enabled them to continue unmanned production
after factory working hours.
addition of the cobot to their manufacturing, SMEW realised that their
production had increased from 30 pieces per week to 80-90 pieces per week; a
300% boost in production, over a brief period of 8 months. The staff too, is
extremely satisfied with their new co-worker as the cobot is easy to program
according to their requirements, and are enjoying working alongside robots.
In a populous country like India,
can we afford large levels of automation? Or are the manufacturing processes so
technologically advanced that the presence of robots/ cobots is inevitable and
is the need of the hour?
The heavy industry manufacturers have viewed
automation not only as means of improvement in quality and increasing quantity
of the production but way to downsizing the workforce. The main aim of
automation is to mass-produce high quality goods and increase the supply to
market; which is not possible manually, as error rate can be too high. The
human mind and body tire after certain repetitive actions and this is where
automation comes into play. Automation should help the labor force and not
Automation has become the competitive advantage in
today’s manufacturing world. It has allowed companies to mass produce at an
outstanding speed and with great repeatability with efficient quality.
Automation has become a determining factor in whether or not a company will
remain competitive within the manufacturing industry. The Indian Automation
Industry is growing at an annual rate of 20 to 25 per cent as per Automation
Industry Association of India (AIA). Automation allows businesses to scale for
faster growth and collaborative robots (cobots) are the ideal solution because
of their adaptability to various industries and tasks, their fast and efficient
programming and rapid return on investment.
This approach is particularly appealing to the Indian
Manufacturing Industry because labor-intensive conditions and the collaborative
robots together can help the Indian Market achieve the best of both worlds by
making precise use of this distinctive technology. This has been seen with some
of the collaborators of Universal Robots, which include Aurolab and Bajaj Auto
these cobots manufactured in India? Are cobots and robots being used
to manufacture cobots in your own plant in India?
Our cobots are manufactured and assembled in Denmark.
The Denmark plant has a capacity of producing and stocking 33,000 cobots.
automotive players, is it an expensive affair to buy cobots? Typically how much
does one cost and how many are used in an area of manufacturing?
industrial robots are fixed installations that require huge spaces along with
safety fences, light curtains, safety scanners and a 3 phase power. The
additional costs incurred by the manufacturers include the cost of programming
experts. On the other hand, our co-bots are easy to program, flexible, and work
within a limited space, with negligible maintenance costs. Thus, deployment and
installation of these cobots is a one-time investment. They have a payback time
of 195 days globally.
How do you see the global and Indian
automotive industry panning out in the next few years in terms of acceptance of
cobots in an industry moving rapidly towards electric vehicles, autonomous
The use of
robotics in the automotive industry has been expanding. Cobots hit the Indian
manufacturing sweet-spot since they permit HRC (Human Robot
Collaboration). This technology is
expected to grow at a CAGR of 60% for the next several years as SME’s begin to
adopt this path breaking technology that improves productivity & quality
dramatically – safely.
There is no
denying that the new Robotic technologies are all set to change the way things
are done in industries in which they are being implemented. All the
entrepreneurs are optimistic about the use of Robotics in various industrial
segments and its future in India. The
automotive manufacturers have been adapting latest technologies in their
production and cobots have made a significant value-addition to the
automotive sector is one of the largest and fastest growing in the world.
Automation offers opportunities which are beneficial for the auto industry from
responding faster to market requirements, reduce manufacturing downtimes, and
improve the efficiency of supply chains and increase productivity.
looking forward to further expanding our client base in India as we believe
that the market has a huge untapped potential. Along with increasing our
business, we will also be spreading awareness in the market about the collaborative
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