In recent years, India has seen huge advancement in robot technology. But now there are ‘cobots’ that work alongside human workers in various industries. Cobots have significantly improved the productivity and have been proved instrumental for organizations. Universal Robots is a leading manufacturer of collaborative robots. Rajeev Ranjan, Editor, Digital Terminal recently held an exclusive interaction with Sougandh K.M, Country Manager of India, Universal Robots. He shared views about the increasing adoption of cobots, their future plans, opportunities and much more. Check out this exclusive interview.
Rajeev: Please tell about Universal Robots.
Sougandh: Universal Robots (UR) is an innovative Danish robotics company that designs and manufactures collaborative robots, also known as "cobots". First launched in 2008, these cobots are designed to work alongside human workers in a wide range of industries to improve productivity and safety in diverse tasks. To date, UR has installed over 50,000 cobots worldwide.
UR aims to empower change in the way work is done using their leading-edge robotics platform, with a product portfolio covering a range of reaches and payloads. They are supported by a wide selection of end-effectors, software, accessories and application kits in the UR+ ecosystem, enabling them to be redeployed across different industries and used in different tasks.
UR’s cobots are able to carry out a variety of duties, including material handling, picking, packaging, palletising, component transfer, machine loading, assembling, welding, painting, dispensing, and processing. Overall, UR’s business represents around 40% of the global cobot market.
Rajeev: Please shed some light on the benefits that Cobots offer. How do you see the success of Cobots in the Indian market?
Sougandh: Here are some of the benefits that Cobots can offer:
Improved safety: Cobots are designed to work safely alongside human workers, with features like inbuilt sensors and collision detection that can stop the robot if it comes into contact with a person. This can help to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries in the workplace.
Increased productivity: Cobots can work continuously and without breaks, which can help to increase productivity and efficiency in the workplace. They can also take on repetitive or dangerous tasks, allowing human workers to focus on more complex or value-added tasks.
User-friendly: Many cobots are designed to be easy to program and operate, with user-friendly interfaces that require little or no programming experience. This can make them more accessible to small and medium-sized businesses that may not have the resources to invest in specialized robotics expertise.
Flexibility: Cobots can be easily reprogrammed and reconfigured for different tasks, which can make them more flexible than traditional industrial robots. They can also be easily moved around the workplace as needed.
Affordability: Compared to traditional industrial robots, cobots are often more affordable and can provide a faster return on investment, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses.
Regarding the success of cobots in the Indian market, there is growing interest and adoption of cobots in India, particularly in industries such as automotive, electronics, and manufacturing. However, the market is still relatively new, and there are challenges related to awareness and adoption, particularly among smaller businesses. To be successful in India, cobot manufacturers will need to continue to educate businesses about the benefits of cobots, provide training and support, and develop products and solutions that are tailored to the needs of Indian businesses. As such, there is significant potential for cobots to be successful in the Indian market.
Rajeev: What are the key factors that have been crucial in the adoption of Cobots among your existing customers in India?
Sougandh: There are several key factors that have been crucial in the adoption of cobots among UR’s existing customers in India:
Easy to use Ecosystem: UR cobots are designed to be easy to program and operate, with a user-friendly touchscreen interface that requires little or no programming experience. Additionally, the company has UR Academy and myUR service and support system to help their clients in the easy understanding and installation of the cobots. This has made them accessible to a wide range of businesses, including those with limited robotics expertise.
Worker’s safety: UR cobots are designed to work safely alongside human workers, they comes with multiple safety features such as a cobot arm have UR+ certified vision camera offers easy plug-and-play integration for non-destructive testing and 3D measurements, further guaranteeing the quality of your. This has helped to alleviate concerns around workplace safety and has made it easier for businesses to integrate cobots into their existing workflows.
Versatile: UR cobots are designed to be easily reprogrammed and reconfigured for different tasks, which makes them more flexible than traditional industrial robots. This has been particularly appealing to businesses with rapidly changing production requirements or those that need to adapt quickly to new market demands.
Return on investment: UR cobots are often more affordable than traditional industrial robots and can provide a faster return on investment, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses. This has made them an attractive option for businesses looking to automate their processes and increase efficiency.
Space saving: Cobots by UR are compact in size and have smaller footprints. They can be mounted on the ceiling as well in order to save space. Cobots do not require infrastructural changes and fencing to ensure safety and security.
Overall, the ease of use, safety features, flexibility, affordability, and training and support provided by UR have been crucial in the adoption of cobots among its existing customers in India. These factors have helped to alleviate concerns around workplace safety, reduce the barrier to entry for businesses looking to automate their processes and enable businesses to achieve a faster return on investment.
Rajeev: How do Cobots enable SMBs to maintain competitiveness while saving the costs?
Sougandh: One of the key benefits of cobots is their ability to work alongside human employees without safety cages (subjected to risk assessment). Deploying large and bulky machines on factory floors with limited space is a constraint for SMBs. In this case, cobots are space-friendly and do not require large spaces or additional safety fences, unlike traditional industrial robots.
Indian SMBs are labor-intensive and have a great scope for expansion. Cobots are flexible, versatile, and cost-effective. The ease of use of cobots enables flexible automation in SMBs. Besides, SMBs need to understand that cobots deliver a fast payback for their investment. Universal Robots offers an average payback period as short as twelve months, giving SMBs the advantages of advanced robotics automation with no traditional added costs associated with robot programming and set-up.
Cobots’ ease of programming has created tremendous advancements in industrial processes, adding substantial flexibility to meet human problem-solving needs. They allow SMBs to grow in measured steps so that they can maintain competitiveness in a global landscape without taking on undesirable risks.
Rajeev: What are your growth targets for FY 2023-24? Do you have any expansion/investment plans for this FY?
Sougandh: The mission of UR is to "create a world where people work with robots, not like robots." The company has consistently worked towards achieving its growth goals, and it has been quite successful in doing so. As an example, the company's revenue for the fiscal years FY2021 and FY2022 were $311 million and $326 million, respectively.
The following are the growth objectives for 2023:
Emphasis on large businesses: Since its beginning, the company has concentrated on making automation for small and medium-sized enterprises easier. The company will reorient its efforts in 2023 to attract more substantial clients while continuing to make automation affordable for smaller businesses.
Focus Segment: In 2023, UR will concentrate on welding, palletizing, and machine tending applications of cobots the use of cobots for welding, palletizing, and machine tending is extensive and provides organizations with a number of advantages, including better productivity, lower labor costs, more efficiency and quality, and more adaptability. Overall, assisting Universal Robots in attaining its objective of widespread automation.
Customer Relationships: The provision of the highest level of customer satisfaction and post-sale services is a priority for Universal Robots. They are trusted advisors, dedicated to building long-lasting partnerships with their customers. By getting to know their individual needs and challenges UR can focus on a vast network of partners, innovative technologies, and leading expertise to provide solutions that deliver real value and ongoing success. The company ensures the process of buying, deploying, and using its automation solutions is as frictionless as possible. Universal Robots believes in ‘Our success lies in our customers’ success’.