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The World Ro­bot­ics Re­port 2016 re­cently re­leased by the In­ter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of Ro­bot­ics (IFR) fore­casts that com­pact, user-friendly col­lab­o­ra­tive ro­bots will be­come a key driver in the au­toma­tion mar­ket. The re­port pre­dicts the world­wide an­nual sales of in­dus­trial ro­bots to in­crease by at least 13 per­cent on av­er­age per year from 2017 to 2019. Hu­man-robot col­lab­o­ra­tion will have a break­through in this pe­riod, en­abling ro­bots and hu­mans to work safely side- by-side with­out any fences, while in­creas­ing pro­duc­tion ef­fi­ciency and qual­ity.

“As the mar­ket leader of the cobot in­dus­try, Uni­ver­sal Ro­bots wel­comes the re­port which con­firms the va­lid­ity of our mis­sion: low­er­ing bar­ri­ers and en­abling au­toma­tion in ar­eas pre­vi­ously con­sid­ered too com­plex or costly,” said Chief Com­mer­cial Of­fi­cer of Uni­ver­sal Ro­bots, Daniel Friis.

“Our in­stalled base of more than 10,000 cobots world­wide il­lus­trates the dra­matic growth po­ten­tial of this game- chang­ing au­toma­tion tech­nol­ogy. We en­able small and medium-sized en­ter­prises to op­ti­mise their com­pet­i­tive­ness on the global stage with an in­dus­try lead­ing pay­back pe­riod.”

In­dus­tries pre­dicted by IFR to adopt cobots at an in­creas­ing rate in­clude au­to­mo­tive, the plas­tics in­dus­try, elec­tron­ics as­sem­bly and the ma­chine tool in­dus­try. These are all sec­tors where Uni­ver­sal Ro­bots is see­ing strong trac­tion.

“UR ro­bots are now in­creas­ingly de­ployed on the auto as­sem­bly line, work­ing hand-in-hand with em­ploy­ees, by re­liev­ing them of er­gonom­i­cally un­favourable tasks. We have re­cent case stud­ies doc­u­ment­ing how cobots quadru­pled in­jec­tion mould­ing pro­duc­tion, (Q CODE2) and how our new UR3 ta­ble-top robot is now a sought-af­ter au­toma­tion tool for light as­sem­bly, such as cir­cuit board han­dling,” said Friis.

In Aus­tralia and the Asia re­gion in par­tic­u­lar, strong, con­tin­ued robot growth is fore­casted by IFR, with the re­cent re­port sug­gest­ing a rise of 18 per­cent in robot sup­plies this year, while in­stal­la­tions are ex­pected to rise by 15 per­cent. How­ever, China is pre­dicted to re­main the main driver of robot growth, ex­pand­ing its dom­i­nance with al­most 40 per­cent of the global robot sup­ply be­ing in­stalled in China by 2019.

“The Asian and APAC re­gions are a strong fo­cus area for Uni­ver­sal Ro­bots. We opened a Shang­hai sub­sidiary in 2013 and are con­stantly ex­pand­ing our dis­trib­u­tor net­work in the re­gions where cus­tomers are in­creas­ingly us­ing our cobots to op­ti­mise prod­uct qual­ity and au­to­mate repet­i­tive tasks that many man­u­fac­tur­ers have dif­fi­culty staffing with man­ual labour,” said Friis.

Ac­cord­ing to Friis, the de­mand for con­sumer goods across global mar­kets is push­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers to pro­duce in­no­va­tive, high- qual­ity prod­ucts more quickly, con­sis­tently, and sus­tain­ably around the world.

“To sup­port the grow­ing de­mand for flex­i­ble cobot so­lu­tions, Uni­ver­sal Ro­bots re­cently launched Uni­ver­sal Ro­bots+, an on­line show­room for end- ef­fec­tors, soft­ware, pe­riph­er­als and ac­ces­sories from the UR ecosys­tem of third- party de­vel­op­ers that are op­ti­mised to work flaw­lessly with UR ro­bots. This al­lows UR’s in­te­gra­tors, dis­trib­u­tors and cus­tomers to hit the ground run­ning when com­plet­ing their next UR robot in­stal­la­tion,” said Friis.

Com­ple­ment­ing Uni­ver­sal Ro­bots+, is the new UR Academy, which in­cludes free e-learn­ing mod­ules avail­able to all that make up the ba­sic pro­gram­ming train­ing for UR ro­bots. This in­cludes adding end- ef­fec­tors, con­nect­ing I/Os for com­mu­ni­ca­tion with ex­ter­nal de­vices and set­ting up safety zones. Uni­ver­sal Ro­bots ex­pects the ini­tia­tive to help sup­port In­dus­try 4.0.

“It’s un­prece­dented in the in­dus­try to pro­vide hands- on in­ter­ac­tive teach­ing mod­ules avail­able for free with no li­cens­ing re­quired. The Academy of­fers an in­stru­men­tal tool in help­ing us ed­u­cate the mar­ket on how our tech­nol­ogy can ad­dress key busi­ness chal­lenges. As Aus­tralia faces widen­ing skills gaps re­ported across the agri­cul­tural, man­u­fac­tur­ing and med­i­cal tech­nol­ogy in­dus­tries, ed­u­cat­ing fu­ture op­er­a­tors and pro­gram­mers now to bridge this gap be­comes even more im­por­tant,” said Friis.


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