It is in everybody’s mind. And what do the experts say? The efficiency of the manufacturing process is increased. An interview conducted by industrialautomation with Sougandh K M, country manager for India, Universal Robots, answers your worries and concerns related to Cobots.
The interview is edited as per the requirement.
A record revenue year 2021 followed by a record Q1 result. Is the worst of the pandemic effect over for the cobots industry?
During the pandemic, the manufacturing industry had the worst hit. As the core of the manufacturing industry is on-site production, it requires operations to keep going. Safety of workers and fulfilling the demand for production were the utmost priority for the factory owners especially when the demand for medical equipment was increasing.
Keeping all the important parameters in mind, cobots are designed to take up tasks that require the least human involvement. The onset of the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of cobots across the industry. Collaborative automation helped customers in fulfilling the challenges of production and at the same time remain competitive in the market.
We experienced high cobots demand due to labor shortage and growing awareness about automation. In the year 2021, we recorded a revenue of 311m. In Q1 2022, we recorded revenue of 85m, marking a 30 percent rise in the revenue recorded last year.
With the growing popularity of EVs, the automotive industry is heading towards a major realignment of applications. How would these impact cobots?
Cobots have a tremendous impact on EVs. Often used in assembly lines, cobots are reliable, compact, and can be deployed and redeployed to perform various tasks.
One of our end-users, Nissan Motors, the manufacturer of engines and parts for electric and hybrid cars, has deployed cobots at its Yokohama plant. After the consideration of safety and features requirements, the UR10 cobots were installed to streamline production processes.
What are the advantages cobots bring to a typical manufacturing enterprise?
Manufacturing industries are mostly labor intensive. While labor remains an important cost driver in most industries, improving labor productivity can drive significant value.
Cobots increase efficiency in manufacturing processes and in the mass production of goods. With the deployment of cobots, Bajaj Auto Ltd saw a gradual rise in the productivity and efficiency of their production processes.
The manufacturer has also witnessed a rise in the productivity and morale of employees. They have deployed over 150 cobots since 2010 and are now the 3rd largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. After the integration of cobots, Bajaj Auto has seen the added benefits; cobots are easy to use, require low annual maintenance, and offer higher energy efficiency.
How can the Indian SMBs use cobots to their advantage?
Indian SMBs are labor intensive and have a great scope of expansion. As cobots are flexible, economical, and versatile, the deployment of cobots can save costs for them.
Automation of the production line is quite expensive but cobots can make this process very affordable. Cobots create tremendous advancements in industrial processes as they can be programmed by operators adding substantial flexibility to meet human allow SMEs to grow in measured steps so that they can maintain competitiveness in a global landscape without taking on undesirable risks.
What are the constraints?
Lack of skilled labor or skill shortage is the major constraint in the Indian small and medium businesses. There is no doubt automation of operations increases productivity and decreases cost but labor needs to be skilled for the same.
We have recently announced the launch of new a cobot, the UR20 with a 20kg payload capacity. This cobot is the first in UR’s next generation of industrial cobots. As we foresee small and mid-sized enterprises adopting cobots, the new UR20 cobot would open opportunities for these enterprises to automate tasks in existing manufacturing setups where floor space is often set.
When will India get a UR training or application center?
Universal Robots provides a variety of programs and training to educate the manufacturers and operators. Manufacturers, operators, and learners can attend the free online training modules, webinars, and video tutorials at Universal Robots Academy (UR Academy). Recently, we completed the milestone of opening our 100th training center. Universal Robots have 9 partner training centers across the Asia Pacific. We are currently in talks to have a basic training room in the Bangalore office.
With a slew of incentives and policy initiatives for the industry in general, electronic manufacturing in particular, how does UR view the Indian market?
As Industry 4.0 makes way for the next age – the age of collaboration or Industry 5.0 as some would like to call it, Indian manufacturers would want to transform their factories into those ready for the future.
With future advancements, collaboration can become completely customizable for any task that a human would like to perform – without sidelining the role of humans, though. The last few years have proven that India is ready for technological advancements, and if manufacturers continue on this path, India can soon make its mark as one of the world’s leading manufacturers.
In my opinion, with the current trends and future advancements in the technology department or I should say in the industrial automation world, cobots are game changers. They are safe to be around. Easy to maintain. The concepts are almost identical to industrial robots.
And the role is not played in just one area but across different sectors and industries.