Universal Robots to Show Cobot Uses for Labor-Hungry Industries

Collaborative robotics leader Universal Robots today announced it will feature four different application clusters at the upcoming Automate 2019 show in Chicago, aimed to address the labor-hungry industries and applications in manufacturing that face shortages of workers.

In a recent survey of manufacturers by the National Association of Manufacturers, close to 70% said attracting and retaining a quality workforce was their top concern, Universal said. In addition, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers reported that 89% of manufacturers have difficulty finding workers, especially in jobs that have many repetitive and ergonomically unfavorable tasks.

“These are jobs that we like to refer as the ‘3D jobs’ – the dirty, the dull, and the dangerous,” said Stuart Shepherd, regional sales director for Universal Robots‘ Americas region. “Collaborative robots are now increasingly handling these types of tasks in manufacturing settings. Our booth at Automate will showcase how we work with our rapidly expanding partner network to develop solutions tailored to address the industries and applications hardest hit by labor shortages.”

The company said its booth at Automate will feature four application clusters for machine tending, packaging, assembly, and processing. “We chose to focus on these applications as they are currently experiencing a significant demand for cobot automation,” said Shepherd. “These are also tasks where our cobots consistently deliver ROI of less than a year, often paying themselves back in a few months as cobots typically deploy up to 50 percent faster than traditional automation.”

Automate 2019 is the U.S. launchpad for several new UR+ products. UR+ is a platform that connects UR cobot users to an ecosystem of partners providing UR-certified, ready-to-use cobot accessories such as grippers, vision systems and software. Debuting in the packaging application area as UR+ products are Dorner’s 2200 Series Conveyor and SKF Motion Technologies’ LIFTKIT.

The Dorner conveyors are designed to be the infeed and discharge to Universal Robots and feature the first plug-and-play conveyor-tracking solution for collaborative robots. The control software is integrated directly on the UR cobot’s teach pendant and enables the cobots to pick items off the conveyor on the fly. This will be showcased by two UR5e cobots equipped with UR+ end-of-arm-tooling; PIAB’s piCOBOT and OnRobot’s RG2 Gripper. The LIFTKIT is a vertical positioning system, adding a 7th axis to the UR10e cobot that will be palletizing with the Schmalz FXB vacuum gripper. The liftkit comes ready to install including a telescopic pillar, controller, and UR+ software plugin.

“Palletization with cobots is a task in which we see one of the most significant ergonomic gains in the working environment,” Shepherd said. “Reducing that a worker does not have to bend more times and perform heavy lifting is immediately a winner.” Removing or reducing the problem of carpal tunnel in assembly applications is still a major achievement. “he says.