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UNIVERSAL ROBOTS

Combining the best of both worlds


U N I V E R S A L

R O B O T S

Chief Technical Officer, Esben Ostergaard

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Automate the World Universal Robots is changing the dynamics of manufacturing; complementing - rather than replacing - the labour force with advanced technologies Writer: Matthew Staff | Production Manager: Tom Arnold

niversal Robots has quickly changed the face of manufacturing automation over the past 12 years via a concerted drive to make robotics more accessible and flexible for businesses of all sizes. Initially targeted towards the SME segment of the market, the Company’s UR3, UR5 and UR10 robotic arm products have not only revolutionised internal processes for the unsung heroes of manufacturing, but are now etching their way into the shop floors of larger industry players as they too search for enhanced agility and more sustainable consumer trend adherences. “It all began in 2003 when I was working at the Technical University of Denmark on various projects, where the idea was to make an easy-to-use and easy-to-programme flexible robot arm that gave more flexibility to the factories and more ownership to people working the robots,” explains the Company’s co-founder and Chief Technical Officer, Esben Ostergaard. Universal Robots officially incepting two years later in 2005, the products

on show and gracing factories today are essentially the ones derived from these projects; as the business opened people’s eyes to the idea of collaborative robotics. “This market is now bigger than the established industrial robot market and we’re still growing and opening up the potential,” Ostergaard continues. “The traditional robots that were built up for automotive domains initially are now too complicated to build and set up in the modern climate and in other sectors, so what we wanted to do was build a new kind of robot; still an arm but much more revolved around flexibility. “Initially we targeted SMEs because we knew that the existing larger robots were geared towards the bigger customers, but we have since realised that the larger companies also have a big need for flexibility. And the reason is that consumer behaviour is changing all the time and they need to be able to react to that. Manufacturing equipment has to be all the more flexible and re-adjustable and it turns out that our products are spot on to meet this need.”

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On Robot brings true collaborative and flexible grippers to cobot arms Innovative, Plug & Produce grippers that help manufacturers take full advantage of the benefits of collaborative robots: ease of use, reduction of production time, and safe use alongside human workers.

FLEXIBLE

NO EXTERNAL WIRING

FAILSAFE OPERATION

FORCE & WIDTH DETECTION

Simple to install and program

The RG2 Collaborative Gripper is certified by Universal Robots

On Robot ApS

Hvidkaervej 3, 5250 Odense SV, Denmark


The RG2 is an electrical collaborative gripper that can handle a variation of different object sizes

The RG2 is compatible with all Universal Robots collaborative robot arms +45 53 53 57 37

info@onrobot.com

www.onrobot.com

www.linkedin.com/company/on-robot-aps


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The labour force’s knowledge and expertise is complemented by the robots’ consistency

Combining the best of both worlds

With hindsight it is clear to identify where the gap in the market for Universal Robots laid, but back in 20032005, the Company had to ensure that it conveyed its optimism and ambition for the product to a market relatively unexposed to such a solution. Especially for the SME sector, there was unbound opportunity deriving from companies already feeling disillusioned and displeased with the use of larger industrial integrators; partially because of the lack of ownership, but primarily due to the lack of skills on-hand to manage and operate such machines. With this in mind, the Company embarked on numerous demonstrations to showcase how usable and how much of a gamechanger its product could be. “One project included getting school kids to play Lego robot soccer, programming each player to play in a tournament, and this was all about making programming accessible,” Ostergaard explains. “They had to be able to learn how to programme these robots easily.”

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Another project revolved around the Danish food industry, where there was certainly a willingness among SMEs to veer away from the traditionally complex robots they’d utilised in the past. Not only did businesses struggle to use, maintain, repair and even operate their older machines, but they also resented having to rely on external input in dealing with these challenges as well. “So we thought if we could provide them with a robot that’s easy to programme and easy to use and install, then it would give them the flexibility as well as the ownership they were looking for,” the CTO adds. “It wasn’t about replacing people who had contributed years of expertise and knowledge, but by simply giving those people a tool to help them apply that knowledge more consistently and efficiently. “We helped to combine the best of both worlds. People know what needs to be done, what quality is required, and what customers want, while the robot is really good at keeping consistency of quality and consistency of flow.”


On Robot brings true collaborative and flexible grippers to cobot arms

are highly flexible and simple enough to be programmed and operated without the need for engineers, helping speed development and affordably automating processes.

Odense has long been known as one of the leading capitals of robotic clusters around the world. The innovative and entrepreneurial mindset surrounding the Danish cluster, fostered Universal Robots, the leading manufacturer of collaborative robots. On Robot is yet another exciting and successful story, as the Company is quickly making a global impact on the emerging market of cobots.

Creating more jobs On Robot’s flagship product, the RG2, that was launched back in 2015, is currently used in more than 40 countries, with a strong demand from SMEs that are looking for more cost-effective grippers that offer additional capabilities and are easier to use. In 2016, the Company released the Dual RG2 gripper configuration, which is just as easy to mount and control as the single, requires no extra cables and improves production time. This year, On Robot is introducing the RG6 gripper, which has a wider stroke and higher payload, and all the unique features the RG2 introduced.

On Robot has brought to the market grippers that are more user-friendly, flexible and safe to work alongside humans. Compared to traditional gripping solutions, that often require complex cabling, external power and air supply, the On Robot grippers work right out of the box and straight into the production line. The ambition behind the development of the gripper was to provide a cable free gripping solution, that does not require a high level of expertise to install and operate. “We have made our grippers so user-friendly that the employees will be able to get involved in the work with cobots. This also means that instead of being intimidated by the technology, the employees become really engaged and fascinated by the possibilities and even get ideas on how to optimise and develop their production,” says Kenneth Bruun Henriksen, Head of Sales, Europe. On Robot’s grippers integrate seamlessly with the whole range of UR robots. They are mounted directly on the cobot arm,

The On Robot grippers enable companies to become even more cost-efficient and have helped several medium-sized productions save the time and resources vital to staying competitive. Henriksen explains: “There are so many benefits of investing in collaborative technology; it saves your staff from exhausting and monotonous work and, though many worry this will cost them their job. Statistics show that collaborative technology leads to a larger workforce because it leads to better competitiveness and greater production.”

T +45 53 53 57 37 E info@onrobot.com www.onrobot.com


U N I V E R S A L

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ARTIMINDS ArtiMinds Robot Programming Suite (RPS) & ArtiMinds Essentials for UR+ ArtiMinds RPS combines online and offline programming in a unique, intuitive platform to easily create complex robot programs without writing a single line of code. The software is certified by Universal Robots and can be easily customised to the user’s experience. Programming starts with three simple steps: 1. Building a task sequence via drag & drop with 50+ templates, ranging from standard robot motions to forcecontrolled alignment or camera-based search motions. 2. Running the step-by-step wizard of each template to teach key points with the real or simulated robot to compute the template parameters.

The Company boasts more than 60 percent of the cobot market

Automation to the world

Despite the Company now able to boast around 60 percent of the collaborative robot (cobot) market share, its entrepreneurial origins are still very much at the forefront of considerations, and Ostergaard and his team have subsequently introduced two new, major initiatives to ensure continuous improvement moving forward. First, is the Company’s Universal Robots Academy (UR Academy). “It is an online training platform where we offer free education in robot programming,” he details. “It’s important because what we want to do is get people using robots on the shop floor and to be robot programmers able to optimise these tools. “We don’t want companies to replace people with robots, we want to make sure that there is enough

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3. Execution of the automatically generated robot code directly on the standard robot controller without additional hardware. Expert users have access to all lowlevel parameters as well as advanced programming and inspection tools. ArtiMinds RPS allows the import of CAD files for reachability analysis, collision checks and path generation, e.g. for gluing, polishing or grinding applications. It supports different robots and a wide variety of force-torque sensors, vision systems as well as grippers. Xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx The ArtiMinds +Force and +Vision packages allow to solve challenging applications requiring tactile sensitivity or camera-based motions. The add-ons are seamlessly integrated in the basic software and add new programming templates and wizards. Example applications are assembly of THT components or cables.

ArtiMinds supports the Universal Robots+ platform with specific components like ArtiMinds Essentials, which is certified by Universal Robots and allows to speed up teaching using force sensors of different manufacturers. Enhancing robot literacy

Xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx


PROGRAM YOUR ROBOT

IN THREE STEPS WITH ARTIMINDS RPS

Intuitive software

100x faster programming

Force & vision control

Simulation & CAD

Robust execution

Hardware independent

ArtiMinds RPS is an intuitive robot programming suite, allowing fast, robust and sensor-adaptive automation. Program your robot without writing a single line of code via drag’n’drop, online teaching and extensive CAD features. Compensate process variances by adaptive robot control, using the optional force- or vision-control modules.

GE T A FREE ONLINE INTRODUC TION NOW! ArtiMinds Robotics GmbH Albert-Nestler-Straße 11 76131 Karlsruhe E-mail: contact@artiminds.com Phone: +49 721 96694781 www.artiminds.com

AUTOMATING OUR WORLD


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SICK

S

ICK is one of the leading sensor manufacturers in the world. As a technology and market leader, the Company provides sensors and application solutions that create the perfect basis for controlling processes securely and efficiently. The easy-to-use Inspector PIM60 vision sensor from SICK is a perfect match for the like-minded collaborative robots of Universal Robots. With the SICK Inspector URCap software integrated into the robot controller, it has never been easier to get started with vision guided robotics! In addition to outputting pick-points in the robot’s coordinate system, the Inspector PIM60 enables inspection and measurement tasks for pass/fail-criteria or trending.

www.sick.com/Inspector

Changing the face of flexible, collaborative robotics

automation knowledge in the industry for them to work effectively together, and to achieve that, UR Academy is helping to enhance robot literacy.” People can partake in the course online before bringing this niche specialty back to their respective shop floors with certificate in hand. And this isn’t the only value-add feature to be found on Universal Robots’ website at present. “The second new concept is UR+, a kind of app store where integrators can sell add-on products to market, for customers to install on to existing UR robots,” Ostergaard continues. “The thinking behind this was that we could see a lot of other integrators - often skilled start-ups out of university - with a clever product but no sales channel which seemed a bit wasteful. So why not incorporate their solutions? We sell more robot arms which is our aim, these integrators receive a route to market, and our partners and end-

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OPTOFORCE Easy automation with OptoForce high precision force/torque sensors Do a lot of your precise assembly tasks need automation? UR compatible OptoForce creates very precise force/torque value software modules, allowing solutions to assembly tasks with high tolerances, undertake quality control tests, or carry out various surface-finishing and pick and place tasks. Equipping light-weight robots with a sense of touch combines the advantages of human workers and industrial robots. Equipped with OptoForce high-precision sensors, robots can now feel if they are placing an object in the right place or need to adjust it, and can automatically correct course. Ease-of-use is of paramount importance

www.optoforce.com


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ROBOT GUIDANCE WITH INSPECTOR PIM60.

The SICK Inspector URCap software, a UR+ plugin, offers a new entry-level system for robot guidance, enabling applications such as pick-and-place and machine tending. The ease-of-use of the system makes it possible for a wide range of companies to improve the day-to-day experience for their workers. The cooperation with Universal Robots offers you easy access to robot guidance for a low initial investment and with a short payback time. www.sick.com/Inspector

SHORTER INTEGRATION TIME, SMARTER ROBOTS GIVE THE SENSE OF TOUCH TO YOUR ROBOT

Available solutions for:

6-Axis Force/Torque Sensor

ASSEMBLY PICK & PLACE SURFACE TREATMENT QUALITY CONTROL

www.optoforce.com

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U N I V E R S A L

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users have increased access to more advanced robotic solutions. “It’s a win-win-win for all parties and lowers the barriers to technology usage. UR+ and UR Academy, together, really increase the potential for automation in the world. People are now able to automate so much more than they used to and these two initiatives are helping to drive it.”

Exponential growth

Evidently, the evolution of Universal Robots has been concerted and rapid; and inevitably, its progression from this point on will continue in typically

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Lowering the barriers to technology usage

exponential fashion. The business is aiming for a 50 percent growth rate in 2017, and it has achieved double digit growth rates for several years; no mean feat when considering the ever-changing tech environment it operates within. Ostergaard notes: “It’s not simply a case of growing like we have, but it’s doing so in a constantly changing sector. The industry - and therefore the Company - is never the same as it was one year before. “However, our strategy lends itself to remaining flexible enough to this end, to achieve this consistent,


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exponential growth.” The strategy takes the form of an hourglass when it comes to the supply chain, where the Company designs the products but outsources the manufacture of various parts of the robot arms. They are then assembled in-house before, again, being distributed externally via the Company’s worldwide partner network. Again focusing on flexibility, such a plan also lends itself to long-term collaboration and positive relationships with business partners across the value chain; a pivotal notion considering the

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A balance between robot performance and robot use

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ever-increasing swathe of competitors hoping to usurp Universal Robots’ success in the years to come. “Several companies have tried to replicate our model and some have been more successful than others, but our volume and speed keeps us ahead of the pack,” Ostergaard concludes. “Our differentiator stems from a balance between the performance of the robot and the use of the robot. We want to make a tool that is easy for people to use. “And if we’re doing that then we’re edging closer to our overall goal to automate the world.”

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Energivej 25, DK-5260 Odense S, Denmark Tel: +45 89 93 89 89 sales@universal-robots.com

www.universal-robots.com

www.outlookpublishing.com

UNIVERSAL ROBOTS  

Universal Robots Business Brochure - EME Outlook Issue 19

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