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.
Experience the ProtoMAX abrasive waterjet at OMAX’s Virtual Trade Show
OMAX Corporation has announced a virtual trade show showcasing the ProtoMAX®. Using the ProtoMAX abrasive waterjet as a teaching tool for the next generation of manufacturers, OMAX will present a program of design, machinery, and innovation as it pertains to the advancements of abrasive waterjet technology.
In this virtual trade show, OMAX will be specifically looking at how the ProtoMAX perfectly fits into an academic setting. See the ease-of-use operation of the waterjet from software to cutting. Learn about curriculum guides for a seamless integration of the waterjet into your program. Experience the free software for any classroom size. Though the event will focus on academic applications, it will be open to all.
This event is fully online and will occur June 25th at 9 am PDT. Register for the event at https://www.omax.com/virtual-trade-shows/experience-protomax
The ProtoMAX is an excellent user-friendly machine to build a curriculum around advanced manufacturing technology. Compact, safe, and easy-to-use, the ProtoMAX is a perfect teaching tool. Several universities have elected to add ProtoMAX to their engineering, material sciences, robotics, and arts programs, allowing students to experience hands-on innovative technology. With the clamshell cover and submerged cutting, the ProtoMAX is a safe and quiet (approx. 76 dB) iteration of a light industrial machine.
Featuring OMAX engineering in a space friendly package, the ProtoMAX delivers 30,000 psi cutting power with a 5 hp pump. Whether metal, glass, plastic, or wood, the ProtoMAX cuts virtually any material under 1 in. thick with a 12 in. by 12 in. cutting area. The system utilizes a 230-240 VAC, single phase outlet and does not require any hardwiring. The pump and cutting table are on casters for easy relocation. Work material is submerged under water for clean, quiet cutting that won’t disrupt a shared workspace. The ProtoMAX cuts with no heat-affected zone and no change to the material properties.
OMAX Corporation has developed the OMAX, MAXIEM, GlobalMAX, and ProtoMAX brands offering a full spectrum of waterjet machine tool capability. The ISO 9001:2015 certified company designs, manufactures, assembles and tests components as a complete system to ensure optimum performance. OMAX Corporation also has the most comprehensive service and support network in the waterjet industry to keep its customers ahead of the manufacturing curve. OMAX Corporation is a Hypertherm Company. For more information, contact:
Tel: 001 253 872 2300
New centre of excellence for robotic welding
Motion Control and Robotics specialist YASKAWA’s expansion and investment program continues apace with the opening of a new centre for Robotic Welding, Milling and Material Handling Applications in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham. The Yaskawa Northern Technology Centre represents a significant investment in excess of £250K and will enable Yaskawa to showcase solutions for welding, cutting and palletising applications.
The new centre will feature the latest robotic arc and spot welding applications, using the full range of Yaskawa Motoman robots, positioners, power sources, weld controls and turnkey solution cell systems. It will enable Yaskawa’s customers to conduct customer demonstrations and trials on their products as well as customer product training for online and offline programming.
Yaskawa Motoman’s ArcWorld robotic welding systems are pre-engineered, pre-assembled and shipped ready to weld, delivering the most flexible and cost-effective options to integrate robotics into welding processes. ArcWorlds can be configured with multiple robots, a heavy-duty positioner or servo-controlled external axes for coordinated motion control.
SpotWorld®is a complete work cell with robot, process equipment, part positioner and safeguarding package which leverages Yaskawa Motoman’s MS-series robots and welding positioners to pattern work cells. This, combined with Yaskawa’s popular ArcWorld® product line and servo-controlled spot guns with Direct Current (DC) spot timers, ensures optimum synchronisation and improved quality and reduced cycle times.
Commenting on the new Northern Technology Centre, UK sales & marketing Manager Jonny Grey says: “Yaskawa Motoman offers manufacturers a wide range of robotic solutions for today’s and for future welding, milling and materials handling applications. Our investment in the new Northern Technology Centre is another example of how we are bringing these benefits to as many of our UK customers as possible.”
For more details, contact:
Make your business more competitive by switching to robots
The event will include a hands-on workshop which takes place in ABB’s recently refurbished robot training centre
ABB Robotics seminar and workshop for UK SMEs explains how investing in robots can help transform performance at Milton Keynes on 19th March 2019
ABB will be demonstrating how robots can help UK SME manufacturing companies to become more productive and competitive at its forthcoming Switch to Robots seminar. Taking place at ABB’s Milton Keynes site on Tuesday 19th March 2019, the event will provide a simple step-by-step guide to introducing robot automation to the factory floor.
The seminar provides a step-by-step guide to the key issues around specifying, installing and operating a robot, including how to assess which processes can be automated and how to develop the right solution for your needs.
Other topics covered will include how to calculate the potential return on investment that can be achieved in different types of applications and how to make the case for an investment to your financial director.
There will also be a hands-on workshop session in ABB’s training centre, providing the opportunity to see and use some of the latest robot technology, including ABB’s RobotStudio offline programming software, which helps to greatly reduce the time and cost of setting up a robot system by enabling robot cells to be modelled and tested off-line.
“UK manufacturers are struggling to keep pace with other leading nations that are able to quickly produce high-quality goods at low costs. For UK SMEs to remain competitive they must embrace digital technologies to increase their productivity,” says Nigel Platt, general manager for ABB Robotics in the UK and Ireland. “Our Switch to Robots event has been designed to help businesses to easily identify whether a robot could be beneficial and explain the steps they need to take in specifying and installing the best solution for their requirements.”
To book your place, please visit http://bit.ly/S2R2019 or call 01908 350300 ref: ‘Switch to robots seminar – March.’
ABB Robotics and Motion
Tel: 01908 350300