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    Cobot leaders discuss the role of robotics in post-pandemic manufacturing

    Universal Robots, the global leader in collaborative robots (cobots), has successfully completed the first “Meet the Cobot Leaders” session in Asia-Pacific, a ‘live’ online interactive congress on cobots and their encompassing role in the future of manufacturing throughout Asia-Pacific. The event ran on October 6, 2020.

    Leading cobot luminaries, Jürgen von Hollen, president of Universal Robots; James McKew, regional director of APAC, Universal Robots; and Dr Che Fai YEONG, director of DF Automation and Robotics and associate professor at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, expounded industry insights and answered important questions from industry practitioners and attendees online, with visionary and practical insights on post-pandemic manufacturing, and how manufacturers in Asia-Pacific can be future-ready. 

    Dr Yeong, a name associated with robotics and inventions in Malaysia, and a winner of more than 100 awards nationally and internationally, moderated the session.

    COVID-19 and challenges 

    The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 exacerbated existing challenges and exposed new vulnerabilities for manufacturers around the world. 

    The serious disruption to supply chains, sudden material shortages, and steep swings in demand left manufacturers grappling with changes. Labor-intensive manufacturing has been hit painfully by the regional governments’ COVID-19 measures of extended lockdowns and social distancing. But such measures present an opportunity for labour-centric manufacturers to rethink their operations, on ways to keep production going while adhering to regulatory measures, without sacrificing cost efficiency, and to future-proof operations for more resilience. The event converged the luminaries and attendees with a lively exchange of ideas and recommendations.

    “In Asia-Pacific, business owners and operators have to juggle costs, value creation, and profit. In some locales where real estate is costly, such as Singapore and other metropolitan cities, cobots can be a tremendous help in maximising floor space with human operators and cobots working in tandem to achieve the highest levels of production while adhering to physical distancing guidelines,” said James McKew, regional director of APAC, Universal Robots.


    Surmounting challenges with innovation

    Cobots have been the perfect nimble tool for many innovative applications throughout the world, and especially in an emerging ASEAN markets where the adoption rates of cobots and other industrial robots have been steadily outpacing the established Western markets. This is especially since Universal Robots’ cobots do not require professional engineers or software developers to utilise the cobots, anyone with an ability to operating a simple graphical tablet will be able to command and control such cobots after some basic training.

    For example, cobots have found their way into medical applications because of the COVID-19 crisis, with applications such as swab testing, sterilisation, and mobilised disinfection, including the disinfection of aircraft seat arm rests to alleviate the possibility of repetitive strain injuries or even infections in humans.

    “In today’s transient and volatile world, it is no longer possible to readily or easily forecast forward trends. It is therefore critical for any company to be flexible and agile. Businesses and leaders have to leverage on the best available technologies, such as cobots, to empower innovative applications for businesses to adjust dynamically to situations and crises, and to adapt existing infrastructures to address organisational and customers’ needs,” said von Hollen.

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