As the term implies, collaborative robots (cobots) are meant to collaborate with humans in performing certain repetitive tasks in business operations specifically in manufacturing. Compared to the more popular industrial robots, cobots have many advantages as highlighted in the recently concluded “WeAreCobots APAC” held online.
Universal Robots (UR), a Danish manufacturer of smaller flexible industrial collaborative robot arms, sees significant growth in the Asean region in terms of cobot utilization because of its flexibility and diversity of applications. It is worth mentioning that cobots don’t need to occupy so much floor area which makes it even more attractive for small countries with large manufacturing capabilities or are heavy on research in development such as Singapore.
In the manufacturing sector — in the automotive industry, for example — the safety of engineers and plant workers is of utmost concern. Some countries in the Southeast Asian region like Indonesia and Singapore have been utilizing cobots to advance certain industries.
According to a report by Root Analysis, the global cobots market is projected to be worth $18 billion by 2030, growing at a compound annual growth of 34.4%.
Jürgen von Hollen, president of Universal Robots, noted that in terms of cobot adaption the Asia Pacific region “is growing much faster than the rest of the world.”
“The ability to deploy collaborative robots is much quicker and there are fewer barriers,” said Von Hollen.”For us, we have been investing almost in the beginning into the Asia Pacific as a key strategic market and we see it long term as being the largest market by far for Universal Robots.”
In earlier articles, UR highlighted how cobots perform best as a minimally disruptive solution to safety concerns given their built-in safety functions.
Von Hollen said UR cobots’ markets are roughly 50% large organizations and 50% small businesses (SMBs). He related how cobots were initially intended for SMBs because they believed that big companies have the capacity to purchase and operate industrial robots or resort to full automation.
It turns out cobots have their own strengths that are useful across all sizes of organizations.
“The biggest challenge is still getting the message to the small-medium customers out there the advantages of using cobots,” Von Hollen said. “I think the biggest challenge is that small business customers do not understand yet the opportunity that collaborative robots give them.”
“UR delivers an incredibly cost-effective solution that is able to deliver a return on investments,” said James McKew, regional director for APAC, Universal Robots.
In the Root Analysis report, some “cobots have payload capacity below 6 kilograms and usually low payload cobots are preferred by small companies, as such models are cheaper and take up less space.”
According to UR, many of its customers are in manufacturing spread across the industries, such as electronics and technology, automotive and sub-contractors and food and beverages. But because of the promise of flexibility, the company is seeing an increased uptake on cobots in non-traditional applications, such as robot barista and omelet-making robot in the hospitality and services industry whereby labor supply is challenging.
“We want to take the complexity out of manufacturing,” Von Hollen said. “We want to make sure that all companies have access to a world where data is driving a lot of decisions in the manufacturing process.”
UR’s cobots do not require professional engineers or software developers to use the cobots, anyone with an ability to operating a simple graphical tablet will be able to command and control such cobots following basic training.