Universal Robots presents high-end robotic arms for light weight precision manufacturing

Almost everybody grew up fascinated by robots – I was one of them.

Back in year 2003, 3 young engineers (Esben Ostergaard, Kasper Stoy and Kristian Kassow) from University of Southern Denmark in Odense mooted the idea to create a light robot for the food industry. During those times, robotics market was dominated by heavy, expensive and unwieldy robots – such scenario is the reality for now too.

By 2005, they have founded Universal Robots (UR) and targeted the SME market. The establishment of the company was made possible by an investment from Syddansk Innovation, a Danish public investment fund.

By 2009, the first UR5-robots are sold by distributors in Denmark and Germany. By 2011, UR entered Asian market.

The UR robot is a six-jointed industrial robotic arm meant for light weight and precision manufacturing industry. It was designed to be simple in terms of setup-up and programming. It is also affordable for SME market.

Besides that, its safety mode feature is one which converts futuristic visions into sales.

UR robot complies with item 5.10.5 of the standard EN ISO 10218-1:2006. Known as the collaboration mode, it ensures safety of staff working in the vicinity of the robot – as soon as the robotic arm comes into contact with any obstacle (such as human) with the force of at least 150newton exerted, it will come to stop automatically. This is a game-changing feature for the industry.

It is also renowned for its low noise level, high energy efficiency and modular design architecture.

Today, UR robot comes with two product variants; UR 5 and UR 10. The latter variant is able to support a working radius of 1300mm.

A typical UR robot deployment comes with 10 general purpose I/O ports (digital and analogue) and operates under a temperature of 0-50 degree Celsius. Its power consumption is approximately 200 watts (UR 5) and 350 watts (UR 10).

Its application is fantastic – use UR robots to perform automation for repetitive tasks or tasks require high precision or both.

UR robots work on the basis of coordinates relative to its position. Hence, aside from the ability to perform precision positioning and movement of its arm via computing scripting, programming can also be established via two non-scripting methods which is either 1.) using drag and drop from control panel and 2.) by simply just moving the robotic arm.

In fact, the most useful feature of UR robots is the ability to customize the hand (output) and eye (input) according to industry standard. These hands and eyes are known as I/O tools which work on the basis of the general purpose I/O module.

I/O tools are usually customized made by distributors with engineering capabilities. Alternatively, outputs can be used directly with standard relays or to communicate with other PLC systems; inputs can be used directly with sensors.

For instance, it can serve automation for feeding items into machines, assembling components, packing and unpacking, measuring and inspection and etc.

In Malaysia, UR is represented by 4 resellers namely Automation Systems & Services (M) Sdn. Bhd; AC Meca (M) Sdn. Bhd; OM Motion System Sdn. Bhd and DNC Automation Sdn. Bhd.

I had the privilege of meeting representatives from AC Meca together Ms.Shermine Gotfredsen, Business Development Manager for UR and Francis Hung, PR representative from Priority Consultants during an exhibition in PWTC, KL last week.

“There is currently no competitor for UR in the light weight precision robotic arm market place,” said Ms. Shermine Gotfredsen, Business Development Manager, Universal Robots.

Representatives from AC Meca better known as AC Tech explained that the ability to automate light weight precision engineering manufacturing process will help customers to overcome man-power issues such as rising costs of skilled workers versus quality assurance of unskilled workers. Besides that, customers can leverage on the opportunity to move up the value chain.

UR5 with the controller box(L-R) Goh Ban Ann, Branch Manager, AC Tech;
Shermine Gotfredsen, BDM, UR; Joe Chan, Manager, AC Tech
Even though such trend is relatively new in Malaysia, UR robots had already acquired many customers in Malaysia. AC Tech acknowledged that it will still take 1 to 2 years for the trend to pick up more heavily with a 15% growth expected.

Ms. Shermine commented that AC Tech is a good example of distributor for Malaysia due to the fact that they are very established; having strong customer base and have manufacturing and engineering capabilities.

Hence, AC Tech will also provide maintenance services for UR robots which will require maintenance every 35,000 hours of full mode operation (24/7 full speed mode). Software upgrades will be provided twice per year.

UR won the Entrepreneur of the year 2012 award in Region Funen and is nominated for Most Innovative Automation System (UK) at this year’s PPMA Group Industry Awards. Building on this success, UR’s ambitious plan for Asia is currently in the process of setting up a sales office in Shanghai, China.

To get started, download the user manual.