Author: Tronserve admin
Wednesday 4th August 2021 01:26 PM
Collaborative Robot Gets the Heavy Lifting Done
Universal Robots (UR) remains leading the way in collaborative robots (cobots), driving their products into the market where they perceived a need. For the first time in its innovation cycle, it has transformed to its customers to find out what their pain points were and what they wanted next in the robotics space. The answer: higher payloads.
The most recent version of UR’s e-Series cobots has a payload capability of 16 kg (35 lb), the highest payload the company has released to date. It’s making its North American debut at PACK EXPO Las Vegas this week, including an application demo.
“The 3, 5, and 10 [kg] payload products were certainly product-driven, i.e., as a first market entrant, we kind of pushed the product into the market; we saw this requirement out there,” says Jürgen von Hollen, UR’s president. “What’s different about the 16e is the fact that we actually did a lot of communication with customers and end users to understand what was their true requirement, what were their specifications, what were they missing.”
There's always a battle between reach and payload, von Hollen says, but customers made it crystal clear that the payload was what they needed. “We found out that payload was the real driver for many, many customers because it turned out to be one of the barriers to opening up the market for collaborative,” he says. The reality is, some customers commented that they were looking at the 10 kg product not because of its long 1,300 mm reach but due to its payload, he adds.
Starting off its innovation from an application perspective, UR focused on the optimal payload to open up new markets. Combined with the higher payload, the UR16e has a reach of 900 mm and pose repeatability of±0.05 mm, making it well suited for four major markets: packaging and palletizing, heavy machine tending, screw and nut driving, and heavy material handling.
“Those four markets alone have a potential to deliver a billion dollars in revenue,” von Hollen says. “They’re sizeable markets, all of them growing, in some instances expected to grow at over 50%.”
The release of the UR16e notably expands the versatility of UR’s product portfolio, von Hollen notes, giving manufacturers more flexibility. “At the larger customer base, they were looking at UR and saying, ‘Look, if you don’t have a broader portfolio, you’re missing things that you could be doing in our factories, in our production environment,’” von Hollen says. “So having a full product portfolio really makes it very comfortable for large customers to say, ‘OK, we know with one supplier we can cover all our requirements from a collaborative perspective.’”
For a few customers — especially in high-density areas like Singapore — space is a major consideration for opting for a cobot like the UR16e that can handle a heavier payload vs. traditional robots or automated machinery, von Hollen says. “In other areas, it is labor. And that’s becoming more and more what we see as being the biggest bottleneck or pain point for many customers is the fact that they just can’t find labor,” he says. “I think we’re just at the beginning of this phase of labor shortage. And it’s not just in the Western world. It’s everywhere, whether you go to Mexico, to China, to India. It’s always one of the major factors is labor.”
Much like the other cobots in the e-Series, the UR16e includes built-in force sensing; 17 configurable safety functions, incorporating customizable stopping time and stopping distance; and an intuitive programming flow. Like all of UR’s cobots, the UR16e can be unpacked, mounted and programmed to carry out a task in less than an hour. The UR16e meets the most demanding compliance regulations and safety standards for unobstructed human-robot collaboration, including EN ISO 13849-1, PLd, Category 3, and full EN ISO 10218-1.