KUKA posts record robot sales despite challenging year
KUKA Robotics in the UK and Ireland has posted the strongest annual sales figures in the company’s history, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 crisis and the consequential recession. The group attributes the success to its proven sales strategies and to four main strategic factors that combined to make 2020 a record year.
With the rise of e-mobility, driven by customer demand for green modes of transportation, the automotive sector has undergone big changes in vehicle design and propulsion. KUKA has been at the forefront of automation for e-mobility production and a big cause for celebration was a large order from commercial electric vehicle manufacturer Arrival, a new company with a unique production model.
Every Arrival vehicle is produced in a relatively small and low cost “microfactory”, each of which can produce 10,000 vans or 1,000 buses per year. The company has already announced an order of 10,000 electric vans from logistics company UPS, with the option for a further 10,000; production in the UK is now supported by Arrival’s first US microfactory, in York County, South Carolina.
KUKA UK is supplying the robots for Arrival’s rising demand, across the world. CNBC reported in November 2020 that Arrival was aiming to build three to four of these factories a year, each serving a city and its community, linked in a global framework. The potential for future use of robotics and automation from KUKA is very promising.
“The UK automotive sector faces big challenges, but electrification is coming fast and, with winning the Arrival contract, I am confident that KUKA is very well placed to capitalise on this growth market,” says Paul Williams.
KUKA UK appointed a specialist automotive account manager, Paul Williams, in late 2019. With a strong track record in automotive robot applications, he has already made big in-roads into the sector. “KUKA is embedded in the big car plants in Germany but we are not as well established in automotive in the UK, for legacy reasons,” says Bernard Bagley, head of robot sales, KUKA UK. “Paul and the Arrival contract are helping to change that.”
KUKA has restructured its sales teams under general industry, in order to cover sectors and regions simultaneously and efficiently. Now, every sales manager targets an industry sector as well as a geographic footprint. Along with KUKA’s System Partner model of partnering with specialist integrators, the approach is much more customer-facing. KUKA brings projects to its System Partners and vice-versa; KUKA sales engineers and System Partners always “walk the floor” to help advise on optimum automation strategies and act as a trusted advisor.
“This change has generated a lot more interaction with end-customers, which has always been our goal,” says Bernard Bagley. “Our System Partners provide this customer focus and our restructured sales team is now doing the same.”
Thirdly, KUKA has crystallised its strategy for education and research and development. The company has always believed in the fundamental need for appropriately skilled operators, technicians and engineers, in order to extract the best out of automated machines, assembly lines and research projects. KUKA UK and Ireland have invested heavily in supporting the education and research sectors and have developed dedicated educational robot cells and training material, alongside bespoke research cells focused on emerging technologies.
KUKA Ireland recently won a significant tender to supply the Louth & Meath Education and Training Board (LMETB) with a range of educational and collaborative robots for its new state-of-the-art Advanced Manufacturing Technology and Training Centre of Excellence (AMTCE) in Dundalk, Co. Louth. The training facility at the centre, which is set to be the largest vocational training facility of its kind in Europe, includes tailored educational industrial 6-axis robots with vision systems, robotic welding cells, robotic milling/machining cells and collaborative robot, cobot, cells.
Brian Cooney, managing director of KUKA Ireland, says “Manufacturing is experiencing a serious skills gap and shortage of resources in advanced manufacturing technologies at vocational level, which is not being addressed by the third level colleges and universities. The investment by the LMETB in this visionary AMTCE training centre is not only addressing this skills gap in Ireland but is also setting the standard by which other European centres may be measured.”
The AMTCE provides tailored training courses to upskill and reskill operators and technicians and forms a critical component of the Irish Government’s Industry 4.0 Strategy 2020-2025 program and Covid-19 recovery plan.
KUKA Robotics is the only robot manufacturer with a dedicated presence in Ireland with local sales, customer service, application engineering and training. “This recent success is testament to our focus on providing the best possible products and service to our customers. This is never more important than starting with the operators and technicians who will be responsible for the continued success of our manufacturing sectors,” says Brian Cooney.
KUKA UK and Ireland enters 2021 with a very strong team, with experts in sectors, applications, and regions across the board, together with a network of independent Platinum, Gold and Silver level System Partners, who deliver first class solutions and consultancy centred on their core competencies.
Looking to 2021, KUKA believes the robotics and automation sectors are set for significant growth in response to increased demand to offset the heavy reliance on ever scarcer resources, to reshoring, and to escalate efficiencies and competitiveness in manufacturing. New social distancing requirements in factories and workplaces increase the need for automation to create safe working environments within a limited floorspace.
The life-science sector, including medical device, pharmaceutical and biotech, is a notable growth market. Laboratories are presenting new applications for robots and cobots, especially in labs and clean rooms, that require precise, repetitive processes where a robot can provide the consistency, reliability and traceability that such a highly validated process demands.
Brian Cooney says that, while 2020 has been a difficult year for many manufacturing sectors suffering under the double impact of Covid-19 and the uncertainty around Brexit, it is widely expected that there will be a strong bounce back in the UK and Irish economies in 2021 and beyond. With the benefits of Industry 4.0 and digitisation, together with incredible advances in manufacturing technologies, KUKA expects to take its record 2020 success into 2021 and deliver continued growth, despite the economic challenges.
Bringing metal forming knowledge to the next level
GOM Metal Forming Knowledge Days – November 2020
24th Nov at 10am – Introduction to Sheet Metal Inspection Workflow
25th Nov at 10am – Improving Inspection Through Automation
26th Nov at 10am – Reducing scrap during the stamping process
Throughout 2020, GOM sites across the world have been running Metal Forming Knowledge Days, starting with the live event at GOM HQ in Braunschweig and then virtually through online portals.
GOM shows worldwide how precise industrial 3D metrology helps to ensure quality and identify optimisation potentials in metal forming technology. Metal processing companies provide innovative products for a wide range of different applications. Forming processes are just as indispensable in automotive engineering and commercial vehicle construction as they are in the production of white goods or electronics.
This November, GOM UK is hosting its own Metal Forming Knowledge Days, bringing together all our knowledge and expertise in optical metrology in a series of free online events. The event will take place on 24th, 25th and 26th November and will be held via an online portal. The sessions will cover different areas of metrology within the metal forming industry, showing where GOM have identified potential manufacturing problems and developed the tools to solve them.
For example, there has been fantastic progression in the speed at which sheet metal parts can be produced and therefore GOM has developed ways of batch-processing these parts in order to keep up. It has helped to optimise tool maintenance, allowing users to spot potentially damaging wear and tear early. It can also offer extensive forming analysis solutions to ensure the panels being manufactured are within the forming limits of the material. These solutions and much more will be highlighted during the events.
The GOM UK Metal Forming Knowledge Days will offer a virtual platform for engineers as well as specialists from production and quality assurance to ask questions and gain knowledge within metal forming technology and optical metrology.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact:
Discover how automation can improve your productivity
FANUC to focus on delivering productivity through automation at inaugural Open House
In order to answer some of the burgeoning questions on automation in UK manufacturing, FANUC is hosting its first ever Manufacturing, Automation, and Digital Transformation Open House.
Taking place at its state-of-the-art UK headquarters from 29thto 31stOctober 2019, the event is open to UK industry to understand how automation can improve productivity across manufacturing. Including a number of demonstrations, as well as hosting industry debate, manufacturers can sign up to attend the event via the FANUC website.
Recent figures suggest that UK automation is currently falling behind other leading manufacturing nations, which is having an impact on its ability to keep pace in terms of productivity. To illustrate the point, there are just 71 industrial robots per 10,000 workers in the UK, positioning it behind 14 other European countries. In contrast, Germany has 309 units, contributing to a production rate which is 30 percent higher per hour than that of the UK.
FANUC UK managing director,Tom Bouchier comments: “Many in UK manufacturing remain suspicious of automation, with a common misconception being that it equates to a high up-front cost. However, automation solutions are accessible to everyone, from family run subcontracting businesses, through to multi-national organisations.
“FANUC’s inaugural Open House will showcase a range of technologies, seeking to address misunderstanding within UK industry and highlight how turning to automation can drive significant and tangible productivity.”
One area of automation which will be demonstrated is collaborative robotics (cobots). With built-in sensors and vision systems, cobots are capable of working alongside human operators in a variety of different operations. Cobots are already in use in a range of processes in the UK, across a range of industries. Three distinct models will be exhibited at the Open House including the CR-35iA, which is the only cobot in the world with a 35 kg payload.
FANUC’s production equipment series: the ROBODRILL, ROBOSHOT and ROBOCUT, will also be displayed, offering visitors the chance to see these state-of-the-art machines in action. There will be live demonstrations throughout the event, illuminating the power of automation in the manufacturing process.
The ROBODRILL, a compact yet powerful 5-axis drilling machine, will be represented by the α-D21MiA with Mechatronic iTend machine-tending solution, alongside the α-D21LiB5 complete with DDR Tl-iB additional axis control.
To highlight how automating injection moulding can drive further productivity gains, FANUC will be displaying its α-S50iA injection moulding ROBOSHOT as part of a hi-tech automation pick-and-place-to-conveyor application.
The ROBOCUT wire-cutting machine exhibits will feature an aerospace application for precision machining on the C-400. The C -600 and C -800 will also be showcased.
FANUC’s software offering will also be exhibited, including its ROBOGUIDE software, Zero Downtime (ZDT) technology and the newly launched FIELD (FANUC Intelligent Edge Link & Drive) system. There will be a team of experts on hand to talk visitors through how these various pieces of technology can improve factory productivity, highlighting how the manufacturing process can be optimised.
Tom Bouchier concludes: “We’re thrilled to be able to highlight the wide range of possibilities in automation. It’s crucial that UK manufacturing maintains its position as a world leader and the adoption of automated solutions is key to this.”
SCHUNK is investing 85 million euros in its production sites
With a broad-based investment program, SCHUNK is preparing for the next step of its global growth with around €85 million euros to be invested at locations in Brackenheim-Hausen, Mengen, St. Georgen and Morrisville in the USA by mid-2020. This will create around 42,000 square metres of additional production and administration space. It all starts with the US plant in the state of North Carolina, where the new buildings were officially handed over a few days ago.
In addition to the expansion of the production area, SCHUNK Intec USA created a generous new administrative building that, through its open architecture, encourages and inspires creativity and lateral thinking. In the newly created Customer Center, users can experience SCHUNK’s components live and receive additional know-how in technology forums and workshops. Under the motto “One Team – One Family – One Future”, the approximately 4,000 square meter new building expansion was inaugurated in early May with an official ceremony followed by a Family Day.
Alongside Managing Partner Heinz-Dieter Schunk and Chief Executive Officer Henrik A. Schunk, the President of SCHUNK Intec USA, Milton Guerry was enthusiastic about the opportunities that the investment offers for the future. Anthony Copeland, Minister of Economic Affairs of North Carolina, praised SCHUNK as a great example of a company that creates jobs and highlights the assets of North Carolina as a business location. The largest subsidiary of SCHUNK was founded in 1992 to ensure proximity to American customers and to the subsidiaries of German corporations. This strategy is a complete success; on-site production ensures short delivery times and high flexibility, especially when it comes to specific components that are produced specifically for the American market. Today, the USA site plays a leading role within the group of companies for the entire North and South American market. SCHUNK has invested a total of almost 10 million euros in the expansion of the site.
A boom in automation and digitalisation
In addition, 40 million euros are being put into the Competence Center for Gripping Systems in Brackenheim-Hausen, just five kilometres from the headquarters in Lauffen. The expansion covers an area of 22,000 square metres and represents a doubling of the existing production area. SCHUNK is investing another 30 million euros in the Competence Center for Lathe Chuck Technology and Stationary Workholding in Mengen, in the district of Sigmaringen. Here, 12,000 square metres are to be added for production, research, and development. 5 million Euros were invested at the St. Georgen site in the Black Forest, where the production area was doubled with an increase of 4,200 sq m. CEO Henrik A. Schunk, sees the total volume of 85 million euros as a consistent investment in the future of the company: “In the coming years, we will experience a boom in automation and digitisation worldwide and we’ll only be able to handle this by having the right capacities.”
For several years, SCHUNK has been successfully focusing on these two trends and concentrating its resources and know-how. Henrik Schunk expects high growth rates, especially for mechatronic and increasingly intelligent clamping devices and gripping systems. The innovative family-owned company employs more than 3,500 people and has been a pioneer and source of ideas in production automation for years. SCHUNK also recently announced its cooperation with AnotherBrain, one of the world’s leading specialists in artificial intelligence. SCHUNK’s customer base includes the Who’s Who of mechanical engineering, robotics, automation, and assembly handling, and all the renowned automotive brands and their suppliers. The company operates 34 directly owned subsidiaries and nine plants around the world.
Pryor to demonstrate unique robotic marking solution at Paris Air Show
Pryor Marking Technology, the world-leading marking and identification specialist will showcase its latest digital and fully automated robotic marking solution at this year’s International Paris Air Show in June.
The Aerospace Rotatives Marking Cell delivers exact standards through robotic controlled programming and the company’s unmatched vision systems. Automation of component marking reduces time and costs; robotic control is key. This is integrated into Pryor’s software and every detailed move is programmable. The company’s vision systems are used to guide the robots to execute marking automatically and at predefined locations which removes operator errors.
Visitors to Hall 2b Stand H111 will see a demonstration featuring robotic marking of large rotative aerospace components.
Alastair Morris, sales director at Pryor, says, “The International Paris Air Show provides us with the perfect platform to showcase our marking and traceability solutions designed specifically for the aerospace industry. As a UK company with a French subsidiary, our Paris-based colleagues are looking forward to explaining our technology to show visitors. We understand the challenges faced by the aerospace industry and can offer many solutions.”
The company has a strong wealth of knowledge and experience in aerospace marking. Their software and hardware can be set to mark against the requirements of many international standards such as ATA, A4A, US Department of Defence and AIM-DPM.
Pryor Marking Technology is a world leader in the manufacture and design of both traditional and innovative marking, identification and traceability solutions.
Founded in 1849 in Sheffield, UK, a hub of manufacturing and the birthplace of stainless steel, the company’s success is built on providing solutions for all manufacturing industries, with extensive expertise in aerospace and automotive standards.
Operating from sites in the UK, USA, France and India, Pryor serves an extensive customer base, supported by a comprehensive distributor network in countries across the globe.
The 53rd International Paris Air Show takes place on 17 to 23 June 2019 at the Le Bourget Parc des Expositions.
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Altus welcomes Quick as a pre-eminent supplier
Altus, a leading supplier of capital equipment in the UK and Ireland, has recently added a range of innovative automated handling solutions, robotic soldering systems and technical furniture to its range following its collaboration with Quick.
The recent partnership with the American company has broadened Altus’ portfolio, and provided many new solutions to enable manufacturers to expand their automation needs. Offering a wide selection of modular robots, as well as fully automated lines, Quick has a variety of equipment for many applications.
A spokesman for Altus comments “Every manufacturer that we speak to, say that they are looking to automate as many processes as possible in their facility. This is to either reduce overheads, increase reliability, or increase repeatability of their processes. As you know, this just can’t be achieved manually with both human error and the associated cost.
“By partnering with Quick, we have added substantial value to our portfolio and can offer a variety of solutions to those customers wishing to address their automation processes.”
Quick prides itself on its ability to be applied to almost any type of application and offer a complimentary evaluation service (under NDA) where it uses a customer’s specific sample and perfects the process. This enables it to provide a report, quotation and video of the sample being created.
The Altus Group was formed in 2001 to support the UK and Irish market for surface mount technology, capital equipment for every process, peripheral equipment, spares and consumables and most importantly excellent service support.
The Altus Group product line has evolved over the years with carefully selected suppliers who offer ‘best in class’ products at cost-effective prices, from world leading brands. The Altus team comprises a network of highly skilled technical sales specialists, applications and service engineers, providing local support across the UK and Ireland.
In 2005, sister company Danutek was formed with offices in Hungary and Romania to service the needs of local customers and multi-national companies with manufacturing facilities in the Central and Eastern European marketplace.
Kemppi opens up robotic welding application centre in China
In order to strengthen its robotic welding business and speed up the growth in Asia, Kemppi has opened a robotic welding application centre in China. The centre provides complete and innovative solutions and services to both integrators and end customers. Kemppi’s experienced welding engineers help customers to optimise their welding applications and offer comprehensive training covering all aspects of welding.
“Robotic welding and Asia are both strategic focus areas for Kemppi. The company made its first deliveries to China at the end of 1980s and has invested significantly in robotic welding solution development during the past years. The robotic welding application centre is a natural next step in serving the important and fast growing robotic welding markets in China and Southeast Asia even better”, says Hannu Jokela, vice president APAC and Export Sales, Kemppi Oy. “Local expertise is the key business factor for Kemppi.”
The centre is equipped with Kemppi’s wide range of robotic welding equipment and robots from well-known robot manufacturers. Visitors can see the state-of-the art A7 MIG Welder, KempArc Pulse450 and KempArc SYN500 welding automation systems in action. They can witness the efficiency and quality reached with Kemppi’s application optimised Wise welding processes and find out for themselves how easy the unique web browser-based user interface for A7 MIG Welder is to use and how much it saves setup time.
Kemppi robotic welding application centre is located in Kemppi China Subsidiary facilities in Beijing.