Universal Robots on Worldwide Business with Kathy Ireland: Lowering the Automation Barrier for Small and Mid-sized Companies

Robots aren’t just for big manufacturers anymore. And they’re not just for companies with deep technical staffs, or deep pockets. Today’s collaborative robots (“cobots”) are attracting interest from all sizes of companies, all over the world—many with no automation experience at all.

The business drivers for collaborative robots are compelling, as highlighted in a December 18, 2016 segment of Worldwide Business with Kathy Ireland:

Ireland hosted Douglas Peterson, General Manager of Universal Robots America’s Division, to talk about how collaborative robots are lowering the automation barrier for businesses of almost any size—and for almost any application.
The video segment highlights the specific automation challenges of small and mid-sized businesses, such as low-volume, high-mix production lines and limited technical staff with automation experience. These companies need to grow their businesses more profitably but typically don’t have the resources to invest in traditional industrial automation. With cobots’ low initial investment and fast payback period, along with programming that’s as easy to use as a smartphone or video game, that’s all changed.

Easy Cobot Programming Equals Easy Automation
Behind the scenes: The UR3 robot is so easy to program that it can be done on the fly in a Hollywood film studio; our distributor in Los Angeles, Numatic Engineering, brought the robot on set and had it up and running within half an hour.

The Worldwide Business Field Report shows Universal Robots in place at Emtek, a manufacturer of specialty, high-end door hardware. Birk Sorensen, Emtek’s VP of Engineering, said, “The advantages of the collaborative robot, where the operator works very closely with them, means we do not have to have a fully automatic system. The operator can interact with the robot, placing his arms and parts in place with the robot.” This collaborative approach, with the robot arm working side-by-side with human operators, has allowed Emtek to double its daily production output.

Of course, there is a full—and growing—range of industries and applications that are ideal for cobots, as spotlighted in the Worldwide Business episode. Those include loading and unloading machines, packaging, welding, painting, gluing and lightweight assembly, as well as many unexpected applications. “We’re seeing these [robots] get into industries we never would have thought of,” said Universal Robots’ Peterson. Some surprising applications range from dairy farming to the TV and film industry, and from producing custom flip-flops to assisting in brain surgery.

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