CHICAGO, IL — Cobots are now the fastest growing segment of industrial automation, expected to jump ten-fold to 34 percent of all industrial robot sales by 2025, according to the International Federation of Robotics. Universal Robots (UR) pioneered the market by selling the first commercially viable cobot in December of 2008 and has kept its early frontrunner position with a 60 percent global share of the cobot market, selling more cobots than all competitors combined.
Universal Robots announced the celebration of this milestone today in Chicago at a press conference at IMTS, the nation’s largest manufacturing trade show. Recipient of the Golden Edition Cobot, UR’s 25,000th unit sold, will be delivered with joints in a rich golden finish to Kay Manufacturing, a small precision machining company headquartered in Calumet City outside Chicago. President of Universal Robots, Jürgen von Hollen, emphasized how the company couldn’t have reached this historic landmark without customers like Kay Manufacturing.
“With this event, we celebrate not just the success of Universal Robots in empowering customers, but also the successes of our customers in innovating and changing their workplace with collaborative robots,” said von Hollen. “The Gold Edition Cobot reflects our continued commitment towards making the unlimited potential of robotics accessible for all.”
Unlike conventional industrial robotic solutions that usually stay bolted down in cages dedicated to one task only, the UR cobots are designed to work hand-in-hand with operators on a wide range of tasks, opening up more opportunities for human-robot collaboration. Kay Manufacturing is using Universal Robots for end-of-line tasks, packaging and palletizing parts off a conveyor. The company started to look into automation after it received an order that doubled its production output to over a million pieces per year. The engineering team first considered building a traditional automation cell, but after an internal review they concluded that build time, installation, robot programming, safety hardware requirements, and programming of all safety functional devices would be too costly and take far too long.
“A traditional cell would not justify our internal rate of return and would consume most of our facilities’ technical resources,” said Brian Pelke, president of Kay Manufacturing. “It was a non-starter.”
Instead, the company looked into cobots from Universal Robots that don’t require the same safety setup due to a built-in safety system in the robot arms that make them automatically stop once they encounter obstacles in their route.
“We quickly realized that UR cobots were the most cost-effective option, requiring the least amount of technical resources,” said Pelke, who estimates that each UR robot helps save $150,000 in annual labor costs. “UR has an impressive user interface and was easy to learn and to cross train all of our personnel.” “The cobots didn’t replace any employees, we were able to meet increased production demand with our existing work force, and we saved twenty minutes of operator time per hour, all while improving our ergonomic work environment and freeing up our staff to handle more value-added tasks,” added Pelke. “We look forward to putting our new golden cobot to work and expect our fleet of UR cobots to grow even further as our production expands.”