Universal Robot is one of the leading manufacturers of advanced user-friendly and light industrial collaborative robotic arms (cobots) from Denmark and have
recently expanded presence in the Indian market. Pradeep David, General Manager – India & Sri Lanka, Universal Robots speaks on the company's roadmap and the
role of Collaborative robots in creating tremendous advancements.
What is company’s roadmap for India?
Universal Robots made its debut in India in February 2016 and since then have been successful in deploying 200 cobots majorly in the automotive industry and its
ancillaries, followed by FMCG, Electronics, and R&D centers. Going forward from here, we believe that the opportunities are better in the SME sector specifically in
tier 2 cities such as Surat, Aurangabad, Jaipur, Indore, and Coimbatore. According to the PwC survey of manufacturers, 59 per cent of SMEs have invested heavily in
automation and robotics technology. For every industry, automating the last 20 per cent of a production line is the most expensive part and human robot collaboration
(HRC) is necessary to make automation affordable for SMEs’. Cobots create tremendous advancements in industrial processes as they can be programmed by
operators adding tremendous flexibility to meet human problem solving needs. They give SMEs’ the opportunity to grow in measured steps so that they can maintain
competitiveness in a global landscape without taking on undesirable risks.
In Europe, we have started deploying cobots in therapeutic assistance and therefore here in India also, we are exploring opportunities in healthcare, FMCG and textile
industries. We reckon that cobots will pervade into more fields than the traditional ones already listed and there will be more collaboration between human and robot as
the market opens itself up to this new trend.
At present, a number of industries are facing labour problems hence our bigger goal is to encourage human robot collaboration in manufacturing. It helps in dealing
with the labour problems on one hand, and on the other hand, it offers higher productivity and precision in the manufacturing process.
Indian cobot market which has just taken shape, has shown a remarkable growth with revenues which are expected to cross Rs 30 crores within 2 years. Therefore,
taking advantage of the impressive growth of the market, we are aiming to double our numbers in India in 2017 and this could only go up from there.
How Collaborative Robots (Cobots) are driving Industry 4.0 by Human-Robot collaboration paradigm?
Industry 4.0 is the most talked-about technology trends in industrial manufacturing as it involves full integration of manufacturing technologies and systems to make an
automated / smart factory. Over the past few decades automation has become a necessity in manufacturing sector due to global competition which has helped in
efficient manufacturing processes and mass-production of goods.
This evolution of the manufacturing industry now leads it to the next industrial revolution – Industry 5.0, which enables man and machine to work hand-in-hand. The
idea is for humans and robots to be inter-dependent and achieve what each of them does best, safely. The robotics industry is comparatively a new one in India and
these new robotic technologies are all set to change the way things are done in industries. Entrepreneurs are very optimistic about the use of robotics in various
industrial segments and its future in India.
The aim behind cobots is such that they are easy to operate and require human interaction ensuring the productivity of the employees, the quality of the products,
making the production efficient and quick on a larger scale. There are a few things requiring human ingenuity that are best done manually, whereas the accuracy,
precision and repetitive mass production at higher efficiency is best taken care of by robots. Now, the future of robotics and automation lies in the acceptance of
manufacturers that the moot point behind automation is not only to reduce the workforce but to increase employment, efficiency and levels of quality production in the
We are in an age where the application of next-generation automation is doing more than we ever thought possible, impacting individuals and businesses in many
instances without even being noticed. The Human Robot Collaboration (HRC) is expected to grow at a CAGR of 60 per cent for the next several years as
manufacturers are tremendously adopting this path breaking technology to improve productivity & quality.
This approach is particularly appealing to the Indian manufacturing industry because labor-intensive conditions and cobots together can help the Indian market achieve
the best of both worlds by making precise use of this distinctive technology. This has been seen with some of the collaborators of Universal Robots, which include
Aurolab and Bajaj Auto Ltd.
A recent study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology undertaken by Julie Shah, who studies human-robot collaboration at the BMW plant, discovered that teams
of human and robot collaborators worked with better efficiency and precision with higher productivity, when compared to an all human or an all robot team. This
co-operative process reduced the human idle time by 85 per cent and she also observed that humans do not mind robots taking the lead. Hence, Industry 5.0 has
started taking root in factories today and the collaboration between man and machine will continue to grow.
What is the role of Collaborative robots in creating tremendous advancements in Indian industrial processes (at affordable cost)?
Industrial robots are usually preferred in large manufacturing plants for activities like assembly lines, dispensing, welding and even processing. For years manufacturers
have been weary of implementing such robots simply because of safety concerns due to space consumption, heavy and expensive but Universal Robots were the first
in the market that enabled small and medium companies to automate with the help of their cobots.
As competition increases, companies willing to invest in various automation solutions are more likely to be successful in the long-term. There are many reasons for the
emergence of collaborative robots: Manufacturers, (especially small and medium-sized enterprises) are eager to adopt this technology because they can be placed
alongside humans in small-spaced electronics assembly lines, they are affordable, highly adaptable, almost plug-and-play, and are flexible to handle short runs, repetitive
and boring jobs, and ergonomically challenging tasks.
How new generation of lightweight robots are moving to sectors
beyond the automotive industry like Fashion, Bartending, Cooking (making dosas)?
According to the International Federation of Robotics, nearly 1.3 million industrial robots will enter service in factories around the world by 2018 but manufacturing
isn’t the only sector benefiting from robotic automation.
With their low cost of entry, easy programming by non-experts, and no need for expensive safety fencing, they offer faster payback—typically less than a year—than
nearly any other type of automation. With so many opportunities to reduce costs, improve business performance, optimise production, increase quality, and drive
revenue, it’s not really surprising to find cobots showing up some pretty unusual applications.
Healthcare: In the healthcare service, cobots are showing off their best bedside manners, offering much-needed support for physicians, nurses, and other care-givers in
stressed healthcare systems around the world. UR robots are assisting in laparoscopic surgery in Spain, providing rehabilitation support and helping lift bed-ridden
patients in Denmark, and even delivering sports massages in Singapore. Easy programming, flexible deployment, and built-in safety systems make UR technology ideal
for these hands-on, quality-of-life services.
Photography: At the Rio Olympics, camera-wielding UR10 cobot joined the press corps, filming swimming and athletic competitions for French television company,
FTV. The UR10 is the only arm we use because it can carry any camera weighing up to a balanced 8 kilograms. It is perfect for making wide shots, both simple and
complex, as the robot is very accurate.
Farming: Farming is no stranger to automation, but many agriculture-related jobs need a soft touch—especially if they involve livestock. Now cobots are giving dairy
operations the advantages of optimitsed production and increased competiveness.GNE Farm Equipment is using UR’s collaborative robots to reduce the labor costs
of milking cows, which is helping the company address a decade-long shortage of qualified milkers.
Co-Pilot: These cobot give ‘autopilot’ a whole new meaning. In a DARPA demonstration, small UR3 cobot share the cockpit of a Cessna Caravan turbo-prop plane
with a human pilot. The collaborative robot arm is part of the Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS), which also includes a tablet-based user interface
with speech recognition and other components such as cameras.
Bartender: Mofongo’s Distillery and restaurant in Groningen, Holland has a hot new bartender who is changing the definition of straight-up shots. A UR10 robot is
mounted on a seven-meter tall Festo linear actuator behind the bar. A human bartender places three shot glasses in the UR10’s gripper and enters which liquors to be
dispensed through the touch screen. Then the UR10 swoops straight up—as high as three floors above the bar—to fulfill its mission, quickly identifying the chosen
three bottles from 56 different options displayed on the wall. Once each shot glass has been filled, the robot slides back down to deliver the distilled goods. This new
approach to liquor dispensing was such a hit that Mofongo’s won the “Best Looking Bar in Holland” award.
Chef: Viewers love MasterChef, the BBC’s popular cooking competition so who wouldn’t love to have a robotic version of the winning chef in their own kitchen?
UK-based Moley Robotics created an autonomous kitchen machine that uses two UR5 robot arms with robot hands to reproduce the movements of a human chef. A
3D-recording of the cooking process maps every individual motion, allowing the robotic gourmet to prepare a bowl of crab bisque from a recipe by Tim Anderson (a
previous MasterChef winner). The UR5 robot arms scrapes butter off a spatula and even wipes the ladle on the side of the saucepan to prevent drips.
In Singapore, Komala Vilas Hotel, UR cobots are being used there to make dosas & omelets. Although these applications are yet to be seen in India but within next two
years, we will be seeing the deployment of cobots in the above mentioned unique sectors in India as well.What are geographical expansion plans of the company?
Our key objective is to focus on the Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets and reaching out extensively to the areas where heart of manufacturing happens. We want to target the
SME sector and give these smaller businesses a chance to grow and increase their efficiency and output.
Universal Robots also believe that there is a lot of growth potential in Sri Lanka. The leading biscuit & garment manufacturers of Sri Lanka have deployed UR cobots
and we are expecting to sell over 100 cobots there in next 3 years. Bangladesh is also seems to be a good market for us to break into and very soon we will look into
expanding our horizon there. In India, we are planning to open new offices in New Delhi and Pune in order to provide better support to customers. The 2016 annual
result of Universal Robots is a testament to the market growth, with revenue reaching DKK 662 million (around INR620 Crores) and delivering a profit of DKK 92
million (around INR 86 Crores) before tax.
Who are the major customers UR is tied up with?
Universal Robots started India operations a year ago; however we can proudly mention that some of the companies here are using our cobots from past 7 years, which
is much before the establishment of our India office. Bajaj Auto is our oldest customer which has deployed around 120 cobots since 2011 and is now the 3rd largest
motorcycle manufacturer in the world. They are also the first Indian company to implement the use of cobots in their automotive assembly lines.
Our cobots are deployed majorly in the market segments of automotive industry followed by FMCG, Electronics, Education and R&D Centers. Some of key
customers on board with us globally are BMW, Volkswagen, Siemens, L'oreal, Bajaj Auto, Aurolabs etc. We have also been in talk with the leading universities and
premier institutions to deploy our cobots as part of their educational systems. With rising demand, the company will be very soon looking at expanding the customer
base in various other sectors in India as they are doing in other parts of the globe.
What are the new product generation and distributors of UR?
We pretty much cover the entire country from north to south and east to west through our strong partner network of 11 channel partners and each of them come with
their own technical expertise. This partnership is in line with Universal Robots’ plans to scale up their business and expand network in India and now the company
management is looking to actively facilitate manufacturing activities across industries in India aligning its vision with the government’s Make-in-India initiative.
Where do you see Universal Robots by 2025?
We see more human robot collaborations and more awareness of cobots because at present the biggest hurdle which we face in the Indian market is a lack of
understanding of the value proposition that cobots bring to a manufacturing facility. We also see a better safety environment for people to function, as our cobots have
over 65 patents pertaining to Robot Safety, Robot Construction, Trajectory Control, Robot Calibration & Programming. Over Eighty per cent of the UR robots
worldwide, are operating today with no safety guarding, right beside human operators.
We foresee more industries/sectors to start deploying our cobots because we feel, it is the next generation of automation adoption and for countries like India this is the
right time to start deploying advanced robotics technology. Moreover we will be increasing our distributor network globally, as well as in India to provide better
assistance to our current customers and to reach out to the prospective customers in a better way.
“We believe that the opportunities are better in the SME sector specifically in tier 2 cities.”
General Manager – India & Sri Lanka,