Our imagination the only limit to what cobots can achieve: Universal Robots president

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Globally there are more than 20 million jobs with the potential for automatable tasks, providing cobot makers with a bright future. PHOTO courtesy Universal Robots.

Cobots, almost overnight it would seem, have grown into a $1 billion market globally with expectations for that figure to double by 2027.

It’s also forecast that about a quarter of the capital expenditures of industrial companies over the next five years will be spent on cobots. These are exciting times to be a cobot manufacturer, but to Kim Povlsen, president and CEO of Universal Robots, which this announced its latest cobot introduction, the UR30, the cobot industry is just getting started.

“There are more than 20 million automatable jobs out there that should be transformed by this type of cobot technology. Basically we are just getting started,” Povlsen said. “The excitement in this industry is really no surprise…It’s a bright future for automation. The reason for that capital expenditure is that there are so many applications and opportunities now.”

Povlsen said he’s seeing automation growing quickly in certain areas of the world such as Asia, which has really embraced the task of automating its business. Also industries such as electric vehicle manufacturing and electronics have high growth rates of automation.

Kim Povlsen, president of Universal Robots, says automation is not just about helping businesses become more productive. It should also be about creating better workplaces.

“Finding ways to automate is such a massive opportunity in this vast market ahead of us and it presents a real interesting challenge,” Povlsen said. “If you look at what we have been focusing on over the last couple of years, we are seeing certain types of applications that have really benefited from collaborative automation. Vocations like welding, palletizing, and machine tending we really see on the rise. It’s the vocations where we have been building deep expertise, established global applications, focusing specifically on these types of applications to support our customers and partners to grow even faster in these specific application areas.”

Povlsen adds automation is not just about helping businesses become more productive. It should also be about creating better workplaces. As Polvsen put it, “places where the dull, dangerous, and dirty tasks are managed by collaborative automation and human beings do what they’re good at: creating, thinking, etc.”

Povlsen says Universal Robots’ mission is to be able to “deliver automation for anyone, anywhere” and how the company intends to deliver on that is three-fold:

First, by creating cobots designed as a platform suited to the broadest possible range of tasks. “What we see happening here is a continuous opening up of opportunities for new applications, driven by our partners, and entering into new industries we didn’t even think of,” he said.

Second, is ease of use, which Povlsen said is critical. The software experience when working with cobots must be such that they become a real opportunity and possibility for any business of any size.

Third, is by working through the company’s large and growing ecosystem. “We are not alone. We are developing a platform. A lot of very innovative companies around us build all the innovation that it takes to build a real work cell that drives the actual automation. This is what our company is built on: collaboration. Today we have more than 1,200 partners across our ecosystem that are building solutions, creating technology, building application kits, full turn-key solutions and components that are used to build actual robotic work cells that drive automation for our customers. We are seeing more than 100 new applications emerging every single year, all the way from screw driving to welding.”

The way he sees things progressing for the cobot market, Povlsen believes that it’s only our imagination that sets the boundary for what can be done.

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