Pradeep David General Manager India & Sri Lanka, Universal Robots

1. How well has the Indian market responded to Universal Robots products and services?

The Indian operation is the newest addition to UR Globally and just about a year old and has witnessed over 200 CoBots deployment already, majorly in the market segments of automotive industry followed by FMCG, Electronics, Education and R&D Centers.

Our three different collaborative robots are easily integrated into existing production environments. With six articulation points and a wide scope of flexibility, the cobot arms are designed to mimic the range of motion of a human arm. The nominal investment cost is quickly recovered as our robotic arms have an average payback period of just six months.

Some of key customers on board with UR are Bajaj Automotive, Mahindra & Mahindra, Ford, TVS, Hindustan Unilever, P&G, L’Oreal, Siemens, TCS, Aurolab, Denso etc. With the growing demand of CoBots in India the company will be looking at expanding the customer base in various sectors. Now Our cobots have over 65 patents pertaining to Robot Safety, Robot Construction, Trajectory Control, Robot Calibration & Programming.

Indian CoBot market which has just taken shape, has shown a remarkable growth with revenues expected to cross INR 30 crores in 2 years, taken conservative estimates, as all indications are for doubling the business year on year.

2. What distinguishes Universal Robots from the others players in the similar segment?

Our cobots have over 65 patents pertaining to Robot Safety, Robot Construction, Trajectory Control, Robot Calibration & Programming. Eighty percent of the thousands of UR robots worldwide operate with no safety guarding (after risk assessment), right beside human operators. The safety system of our robots is approved and certified by TÜV (The German Technical Inspection Association). This is the key which separates industrial robots from ‘Cobots’.

There are 4 types of collaborative operations as per ISO/TS 15066 guidelines on safety. Safety rated monitoring stop, hand guiding, speed and separation monitoring, power and force limiting.

If the robots come into contact with a person, our patented technology limits the forces at contact. The robots can also be programmed to operate in reduced mode when a human enters the robot’s work area and resume full speed when the person leaves. With respect to the hand guiding operation, the human operator uses a hand-operated device and the robot system moves based on motion commands of the operator. It is a kind of manually controlled operation in that the operator is in direct control of the robot system’s operation. This is considered automatic operation, not manual operation.

3. How is Universal Robots helping shape the future of robotics in India?

Robots are playing a very important part in the industry today but the future lies in the hand of collaborative robots which work along with humans to create new avenues.

Universal Robots is not just a name. When we say universal we mean it. The UR arms can be implemented in virtually any industry, in any process and by any employee. Around the world, more than 10,000* operating UR robots are testimony to just that – and to the clear objective we’ve had from the very beginning: To make collaborative robot technology accessible to companies of all sizes.

Robots are our life. So whether you are looking for a robotic solution for the sake of precision, speed, optimization or ergonomics, we can help you. And probably at a price that will take you by surprise; our robotic arms have an average payback time of just 195 days, which makes them the most favorable on the market, within reach of most companies. But that is far from the only reason why Universal Robots is the world’s no. 1 in collaborative robots:

When we say the UR robot arms can automate virtually anything we mean virtually anything; from assembly to painting, from screw driving to labeling, from packing to polishing, from injection molding to welding and whatever other processing task you can think of. And thanks to the flexibility of the UR family, the robot arms are even economically viable for small-batch and mixed-product assembly.

Universal Robots is also providing platforms for new developers. Universal Robots+ which is Universal Robots latest addition is a unique ecosystem that adds value for the developer community, distributors and end consumers of the Danish pioneer in human-robot-collaboration. Universal Robots+ unites the developer program +YOU with a showroom for presenting innovative Plug&Play applications. We are very soon opening a Universal Robots+ platform for external R&D. Our idea is to facilitate the developers with a platform where they can develop their own apps and we also provide them with kits that they can work with. If they are good enough, we sign them and expose the app globally and come up with advertising for our partners. We are keen to provide all and any kind of assistance and training for software developers to develop new products right here in India. We will be setting up workshops and will give a chance to developers to interact with our team, provide them tools and support. But the testing ground is ours, which is provided through the training academy where we provide free training. This is fully compatible and consumer centric.

4. From India’s perspective, how do you see the future of Human-Robot collaboration shaping up at office workspace, industrial level?

Recently there has been much new advancement in robotic manufacturing technology, enabling robot workers to be integrated into the labor force to increase productivity and efficiency. The new term ‘CoBots’ (collaborative Robots) which has come into the picture is a remarkable combination of industrial robotics and automation. 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.

Industrial robots are usually preferred in large manufacturing plants for activities like assembly line, glue dispensing, machine tending and even processing. For years manufacturers have been weary of implementing such robots simply because of safety concerns and also because they are space consuming, heavy and expensive, especially considering the fact that they require a safety cage or enclosure to avoid any contact while co-working with humans. Human and robot system interaction in industrial settings is now possible thanks to ISO/TS 15066, a new ISO technical specification for collaborative robot system safety. The certification legitimizes these robot systems or Co-bots and ensures that they are properly safeguarded.

Instead of replacing human and causing job loss, collaborative robots helps companies in expanding operations, thereby creating job opportunities. Cobots help companies to expand multi-fold, thus creating jobs and many more opportunities at supervision roles. In a human-machine study conducted by MIT researchers at a BMW factory, it was shown that teams made of humans and robots collaborating efficiently can be around 85 percent more productive than teams made of either humans or robots alone. We develop industrial collaborative robot arms that automate and streamline repetitive industrial processes. This approach enables production departments to assign their staff members more enjoyable tasks – creating jobs that provide them with new challenges that add value to the company.

5. What are the major challenges that you face in deploying the technology in the Indian region?

The only challenge that we face in the Indian context is the lack of awareness regarding the value proposition of collaborative robots. There are endless possibilities with collaborative robots due to their ability to work alongside humans. We want to target the SME sector and give these smaller businesses a chance to grow and increase their efficiency and output. Manufacturers can use collaborative robots as an advanced tool available for any worker in the factory to use for stand-alone operations. We have started creating awareness on collaborative robots and will continue to do so in the coming years.

6. Please talk about the Collaborative Robotic Arm and how is it helping companies in increasing their efficiency?

Collaborative robots are designed to work alongside human workers, assisting them with a variety of tasks. Because co-bots are affordable, highly adaptable, and almost plug-and-play, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are eager to adopt this technology, and some analysts (myself included) expect this segment will see massive growth in the next few years.

There are many reasons for the emergence of collaborative robots: companies are using them because they can be placed alongside humans in small-spaced electronics assembly lines, because they are affordable and easily trainable, and because they are flexible to handle short runs, repetitive and boring jobs, and ergonomically challenging tasks.

Collaborative robots are lightweight and incredibly easy to operate cost effective and safe to operate. The rise of collaborative technology has brought them to the manufacturing industry to integrate and collaborate among humans to increase efficiency, productivity and quality. The human-robot collaboration is different from traditional robots.

The days of hiring expensive external consulting every time a robot has to be programmed are over. The new reality is operators with no programming experience can quickly program the Cobot arms (with the help of patented, intuitive, 3D visualisation). All we have to do is move the robot arm to the desired waypoints or touch the arrow keys on the easy-to-use touch screen tablets. The cobot arms come with an average payback time of 195 days. That’s the fastest in the industry-quite simply because they are void of all the added costs traditionally associated with automation such as external programming resources and shielded work cells. So automation can no more be considered out of reach now.

Moreover production setups today often need to be flexible and agile in order to meet changing demand and stay competitive. The light weight cobot arms are easily moved and re-deployed to new processes, enabling you to automate virtually any manual task, including those with small batches or fast change-overs.

Universal Robots has been the frontrunner of collaborative robotics since the term was coined. More than 80% of the UR robots arms in operation worldwide works right next to humans-with no safety guards to shield them and making robot technology accessible to all levels of industry. And cobots are more than happy to do the jobs that human operators find repetitive and dull. The safety system of our robots is approved and certified by TuV(The German Technical Inspection Association). The cobots have 15 advanced adjustable safety functions, These TuV NORD approved safety function are tested in accordance with: EN ISO 13849:2008PL d, EN ISO 10218-1: 2011, Clause 5.4.3

Our oldest customer Bajaj Auto Ltd. have deployed over 150 co-bots since 2010 and are now the 3rd largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. They saw a gradual rise in the productivity and efficiency in their production after deploying Universal Robots Collaborative robots. It also increased the productivity of their employees along with their product quality after associating themselves with Universal Robots. They are of the view that the added benefits of the co-bots are easy use, very low annual maintenance and higher energy efficiency.

UR Cobots have immensely benefited the customers in terms of speed to market, responsiveness, consistency in quality and cost effectiveness. Our CoBots are also doing out of box applications for customers. They perform basic functions, what we like to call pick and place applications, which includes picking things from one place, processing them and then, putting them back, etc. this is for perfumes, shampoos, dyes – Procter and Gamble and Unilever would use a lot of palletizing – are the 2 main applications that are driving the business right now and we foresees good business coming from this sector along with the electronic, Auto and metal sectors.

7. Which Indian industries have responded well to the industrial automation and robotics technology?

Almost all the industries are responding well to Industrial Automation and Robotics technology whether it is Automotive and Subcontractors, Food & Agriculture, Furniture & Equipment, Electronics & Technology, Metal & Machining, Plastic & Polymers, Pharma &Chemistry, Scientific & Research, Healthcare, Fashion etc

If we talk about India, Automotive industry is the biggest market for our cobots, followed by FMCG , Electronics, Education and R&D Centers. Other sectors are also picking up fast and we are expecting Indian cobot market to grow immensely in next two years.

8. Your views, predictions or closing comments.

While global cobots market is projected to grow to $3,811.483 million by 2021, the Indian market is comparatively quite nascent. According to market estimates, America and APAC region will drive the global market for collaborative robots over the forecasted period due to increase in manufacturing activity and a surge in demand for these robotic solutions by the enterprises operating in the regions. The 2016 annual result of Universal Robots is a testament to the market growth, with revenue reaching DKK 662 million (around INR620 Crores) and delivering a profit of DKK 92 million (around INR 86 Crores) before tax. Taking advantage of the impressive growth of the market, Universal Robots are aiming to double their numbers in India in 2017 and this will only go up from there.

Presently, India is one of the countries with the least adoption rate of industrial robots. By 2018, India is predicted to adopt 6000 robots unlike our Asian counterparts, China which will ship at least 1,50,000 robots into their country by that time. Businesses around the world are looking at automating their processes as it not only increases the efficiency of an organization but also improves the quality of products being produced by the respective manufacturing units. Robots are being looked at as an advanced tool that will enhance production operations. For countries like India, this is the right time to start adopting Robots. Universal robots optimizes production levels and the key industries that these co-bots are best used for- the Automotive, Food and Processing, Electronics and Technology, Metal and Machining, Research, and Pharma industries.

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