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Home Interviews Talking to: Pradeep Shoran Assistant General Manager, KUKA Robotics India Private Limited

Talking to: Pradeep Shoran Assistant General Manager, KUKA Robotics India Private Limited

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Last updated: March 20, 2024
by and Alex Morrell is a senior correspondent at Business Insider covering Wall Street at large.

KUKA Robotics (India) is part of the KUKA Robot Group, with clientele ranging from major automobile and other engineering companies. In this interview, Pradeep Shoran explains his company’s foray into India and what sets it apart in the field of robotics.

Tell us about the company.

KUKA Robotics (India) is a 100% subsidiary of KUKA Roboter GmbH based in Augsburg, Germany. The Group Holding Company KUKA AG has three main business verticals, viz.,

1. KUKA Robotics – One of the biggest global manufacturers of Industrial Robots with payloads ranging from 5 kg to 1300 kg, Linear Tracks, Positioners, Simulation Softwares, and Application Software Packages.

2. KUKA Systems – One of the leaders in the field of automation, especially in the automotive industry for Body-in-White lines (welding), Press Automation, and Final Assembly Lines, and

3. KUKA Laboratories – Engaged in developing pioneering technologies and high-tech products in the fields of Service and Medical Robotics for global markets.

When did KUKA enter India?

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KUKA Robotics (India) was incorporated in the year 2006 and is headquartered in Gurgaon. The company’s clientele include most of the major automobile and other engineering as well as non-engineering companies. In fact, one of the first orders bagged by the company was from Tata Motors, which placed an order of more than 300 robots for the new Indica car project it was working on then. What is significant is that KUKA bagged this order amidst stiff competition from established robot manufacturers in India, the clinching point being the technology and the quality of KUKA.

What are the sectors the company caters to in India?

The automotive industry, including their suppliers (Tier 1 & Tier 2), is the biggest user of the industrial robots in India, which is approximately 70 percentage of the total market. The remaining 30 per cent comes from engineering and non-engineering companies.

What are the applications in the auto industry where KUKA robots are used?

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KUKA Robotics is the worldwide leader in the automotive industry. KUKA robots are used for a lot of applications in the automotive industry. Spot Welding, MIG Welding, and Handling are some of the standard applications, which KUKA has done since years. Some of the relatively new applications which have been done with our robots in India are Laser Welding, Hemming, Robot Team Handling, Inline Measurement, Glass Glueing, Dispensing, etc.

What are the changes the auto sector is experiencing as far as automation goes? How is KUKA addressing them?

The profile of the industry is changing constantly, placing new demands on robot manufacturers also. It is not possible for auto OEMs to have dedicated production lines for every new model that they come up with. Therefore they require manufacturers like us to be flexible and modular to accommodate their requirements.

Are robots, and automation, a threat to manual labour?

We do not believe that robots are a threat to manual labour and that they would replace human workforce. In fact, robotic lines would help in creating more job opportunities for skilled manpower. While automation and robots enhance quality and increases productivity, on the other hand they also replace human beings who are doing tedious and inhuman jobs like those that exist in foundries and forging operations.

Are robots energy efficient?

Robots manufactured by us are one of the most energy efficient robots available in the market today.. The KUKA Quantec series robot with KUKA KRC4 Controller is our latest robot series with payload ranging from 90 to 300 kg, which covers most of the applications in the automotive industry. The Quantec Series robots are around 30 per cent more energy efficient compared to its predecessor, Series 2000.

How is the awareness level about automation in India?

The awareness level of automation is quite high in big OEM companies and some global Tier 1 companies which are active in India, but the level of awareness in not so high in the smaller companies. But the encouraging fact is that there is an increasing level of willingness to employ automation in smaller companies as well. May be in the next five to 10 years, the level of automation employed in smaller manufacturing industries would increase many fold.

How does KUKA educate companies on the benefits of robotics?

One should understand that employing automation is a one-time investment. Though the initial cost involved may be high, automation would yield results in the long run in the form of enhanced quality and better productivity. We create awareness regularly on the benefits of automation and robotics through different activities like participating in trade fairs, conferences, seminars, in-house events, industry associations, etc and field visits to local manufacturers.

Apart from these, we have tie-ups with different educational institutions. The AKGEC Industrial Robotics Training Set Up was established in the AKGEC Campus Ghaziabad in the year May 2011, where a KUKA-trained faculty teaches students on the various aspects of robotics. We have a similar tie up with CIT Chennai, and in both cases the qualifying students are given a joint certification. Apart from this, leading IITs like those in Chennai, Hyderabad, Ropar and Delhi are our customers where students use different KUKA robots for their projects.

Tell us about your R&D activities and what is the latest product that you have developed?

R&D and new product development are an on-going process and carried out at the parent company in Germany. We do pass on the feedback received from our customers in India, which could also help in new product development. The latest product, which was launched during the Hannover Fair in Gemany recently, was the KUKA LBR iiwa robot, which is a first-of-its-kind 7-axes robot with integrated Force Torque Sensors in all 7 axis.

How strong is your servicing?

Coming to the service aspect, we have service centres in important cities like Gurgaon, Pune, and Chennai. We have ready stock of spare parts in the country in case the need arises. But robots rarely break down and do not require frequent maintenance; an annual periodic maintenance would be sufficient.

How would you rate the company’s performance and future growth?

The company’s performance has been very good in the last couple of years worldwide and we are doing equally good in the Indian market. We strongly believe that the Indian market potential is huge and is yet to be exploited. We believe that there would be consistent growth in the Indian market in the coming years in the field of industrial automation.

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