SME Times News Bureau | 15 May, 2018
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can benefit from collaborative
robotic arms (cobots), which can help them in growing in measured
steps so they can maintain competitiveness in a global landscape
without taking on undue risk, said Pradeep
David, General Manager, Universal Robots – South Asia,
an exclusive interview with SME Times.
of the interview…
Please tell our
readers about Universal Robots and its global presence.
Robots is a part of Teradyne Inc., headquartered in Odense, Denmark
and was officially founded in 2005. We have a presence in 50
countries. In 2010, the company expanded its operations to include
all of Europe and in 2011, we entered the Asian market. In 2014, we
established a subsidiary in Barcelona, Spain and in 2015 a new
subsidiary for the APAC region was opened in Singapore. In 2016,
Universal Robots opened its regional offices in Delhi and Bangalore,
India, Munich, Germany, and Prague, Czech Republic. We established
our Sri Lanka and Bangladesh operations in 2016 and 2017
type of products do you offer and how can they benefit industries?
Robots is the leading manufacturers of advanced user-friendly and
light industrial collaborative robotic arms (cobots). Our cobots are
best known to automate virtually anything; from assembly to painting,
picking and placing screw driving, labelling, packing, polishing,
gluing, dispensing, deburring, grinding welding, palletizing, machine
tending and injection moulding and whatever other tasks you can think
can be implemented virtually in any industry, by any operator without
special robotic training. They work as a ‘helping hand’ that
helps the workforce in carrying out monotonous tasks, thus resulting
in increasing productivity and efficiency. The primary goal of
Universal Robots is to empower workers by enabling them with smart
manufacturing solutions which involves the utilization of
collaborative robots’ technology and automation.
human-robot collaboration is different from traditional robots. The
idea is for humans and robots to be inter-dependent and achieve what
each of them does best, safely. These cobots provide an added
incentive to the workforce as consistent quality production is
possible with human supervision. Universal Robots technology is
making automation accessible to all types and sizes of business. The
opportunities are endless. Our cobots can be programmed in minutes
thanks to the intuitive touch screen user interface and innovative
programming methods. Its design and technology allows manufacturers
to automate their existing production lines without the need to
overhaul their production layout.
Textile Machinery Pvt. Ltd. who has been in the Textile Machine
Manufacturing since 1958 collaborated with Universal Robots and
deployed their first UR10 robotic arm in January 2017. The UR cobots
are used for pick and place application. This was a new addition to
the workforce but the simplicity and operator friendly features of
the cobots made the completion of tasks easier and faster. For a
24-hour production, SMEW has deployed the UR10 by Universal Robots.
This has enabled them to continue unmanned production after factory
the addition of the cobot to their manufacturing, SMEW realised that
their production had increased from 30 pieces per week to 80-90
pieces per week; a 300% boost in production, over a brief period of 8
months. The staff too, is extremely satisfied with their new
co-worker as the cobot is easy to program according to their
requirements, and are enjoying working alongside robots.
your robotic products like Collaborative
Robotic arms (Cobot) are suitable for small scale industries?
SMEs are always ready to accept and acquire new technologies, new
business ideas and automation in industrial and allied sectors. The
advent of advanced technology is opening newer channels for SME
businesses across several sectors. The technology and innovation is
playing a pivotal role in the growth and development of SMEs in
India. For every industry, automating the last 20% of a production
line is the most expensive part. Human – Robot collaboration (HRC)
is necessary to make automation affordable for SME’s. In India, our
primarily focus is on the SME sector and we are constantly working to
make robotic technologies accessible to small and medium enterprises
to the PwC survey of manufacturers, 59% of SMEs have invested heavily
in automation and robotics technology. Cobots create tremendous
advancements in industrial processes. They can be programmed by
operators adding tremendous flexibility to meet human problem solving
needs. Cobots give SME manufactures the opportunity to grow in
measured steps so they can maintain competitiveness in a global
landscape without taking on undue risk. SME’s have the need of
protecting their IP (intellectual property) – it’s a small
competitive advantage they have developed through home-grown means.
Since cobots are easy to operate, IP can be retained within the
manufacturing industries or companies, without hiring external
consultants for the automation process.
This phenomenon can
be evidently seen in Aurolab, an SME, who handle eye care systems
which are associated with Aravind Eye Care Systems, Tamil Nadu.
Through use of superior and innovative human-robot collaborative
technology, the production improved from 150 to 10,000 Intra Ocular
Lenses (IOL) per day. Aurolab has seen a 15% increase in the annual
product output. This was a unique scenario where the increase in use
of automated machinery that works alongside the employees, has added
to the manpower and now, they have made their mark in the
international market and export to over 130 countries. The automated
machinery has increased affordability, helping people regain vision
at lower cost, and has considerably reduced the power consumption and
Do you think
robotics along with AI is posing challenges to employment?
David: We don’t thinks
that robotics along with AI is posing challenges to employment.
Collaborative robots / cobots help in creating, not losing jobs.
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.
One of the biggest
advantages collaborative robots bring to the workplace is their
ability to take over more repetitive and mundane tasks in order to
free up employees for more engaging activities. As a consequence,
many businesses report higher job satisfaction amongst their staff,
as well as opportunities for them to diversify their tasks and
further develop their skills.
takes over some of the more mundane, repetitive and physically
demanding aspects of production once performed solely by humans,
employees are freed up to perform more nuanced responsibilities and
be trained in other areas of the business such as machine operation
or quality control, just to name a few. Employees who are tasked with
more challenging and engaging assignments are more likely to feel
satisfaction in their roles, leading to loyalty, retention and more
meaningful contributions to the company. Increased productivity for
manufacturers leads to greater profit and, in turn, opportunities for
growth and job creation.
to be increasing the demand for high-skilled, high-income employees,
its impact on low-skilled, low income employment is less clear.
Robots and automation will increasingly shape the way we work in the
future, with enormous potential for improvements in productivity,
increased national competitiveness and the improved quality, and
remuneration of the workforce.
firms must work to create an environment that will enable workers,
companies and nations to reap the rewards of these improvements. This
means supporting investments in research and development in robotics
and, most importantly, providing education and skills re-training for
existing and future workers.
collaborations can make for incredibly effective teams that enhance
production, improve overall efficiency and provide opportunities for
employee and company growth. The rapidly advancing technology and
people will not be competing for work but co-operate to revolutionize
various Indian industries.
How do you see
India's present position in this area compared to advanced countries?
David: The robotics
industry is comparatively a new one in India and there is no denying
that the new Robotic technologies are all set to change the way
things are done in industries in which they are being implemented.
All the entrepreneurs are clearly optimistic about the use of
Robotics in various industrial segments and its future in India.
We are in an age
where the application of next-generation automation is doing more
than we ever thought possible, impacting individuals and businesses,
in many instances without even being noticed. A new generation of
collaborative robots ushers in an era of shepherding robots out of
their cages and literally hand-in-hand with human workers who train
them through physical demonstration. Especially for small and
mid-sized manufacturers, a question is arising sooner than most
probably expected: “If prices keep declining and capabilities of
robotic technologies keep expanding, is now the time to hire some
automated help?” Indeed, many have already answered this question.
Cobots hit the Indian manufacturing
sweet-spot since they permit HRC (Human Robot Collaboration). This
technology is expected to grow at a CAGR of 60% for the next several
years as SME’s begin to adopt this path breaking technology that
improves productivity & quality dramatically – safely. It is
expected to see a positive growth in the efficiency of the supply of
the products, along with the stability in the employment rates. The
workers must cohabitate with robots as human interaction is necessary
for automation to succeed at affordable costs. The rapidly advancing
technology and people will not be competing for work but co-operate
to revolutionize the Indian Manufacturing Industry.
What about Make in
India? Do you manufacture products in India?
David: All our cobots are
manufactured and assembled in Denmark. The Denmark plant has a
capacity of producing and stocking 33,000 cobots. Though, we don’t
manufacture in India but we believe that the deployment of these
cobots can be a successful venture to the Indian manufacturers as
they can be programmed by operators adding tremendous flexibility to
meet human problem solving needs and also ensures a safer environment
for the employees. Experts say that the ‘Make in India’
initiative will be a bigger success with the help of cobots as India
has great potential in manufacturing and rising to the global
platform. With the intent of scaling up our business and expand
network in the country, now the company management is looking to
actively facilitate manufacturing activities in India aligning its
vision with the government’s Make-in-India initiative.
Please share the
future plans of Universal Robot with us.
David: We see immense
potential in the Indian market. We are looking for more opportunities
and with the help and cooperation from the government and the
manufacturers; we have an enormous scope to expand in the Indian
market. We are also growing our team and have an ever-increasing
pan-Indian distribution network. We foresee more industries/sectors
to start deploying our cobots because we feel, it is the next
generation of automation adoption and for countries like India this
is the right time to start deploying advanced robotics technology.
Moreover we will be increasing our distributor network globally, as
well as in India to provide better assistance to our current
customers and to reach out to the prospective customers in a better