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    Robotic automation key to manufacturing competitiveness post-COVID

    Universal Robots, Denmark-based collaborative robots (cobots) technology market leader, urges Philippines manufacturers to accelerate the adoption of robotic automation in order to remain competitive and efficient ahead of tough economic times after the COVID-19 pandemic.

    With volatile market conditions and constant disruption, leveraging automation to optimize production is a constant challenge. A new class of robots—dubbed ‘collaborative robots’— aims to bridge the gap between fully-manual assembly and fully-automated manufacturing lines. Universal Robots highlights that ‘cobots’ could potentially improve productivity for the country’s manufacturing sector by up to 30 percent.

    “As the Philippines gears up for a national infrastructure building and improvement program, it will invariably include automation and AI (artificial intelligence or machine learning). To allay reservations for automation replacing people, cobots would become the perfect companions to the Philippines workforce, as they co-exist with operators and service maintenance engineers,” said Darrell Adams, Universal Robots’ head of Southeast Asia & Oceania. “Cobots fit snugly into the Philippine market, enabling humans and robots to share tasks along a production line. With the assistance of cobots, local manufacturers can achieve higher levels of efficiency and rapid productivity gains.” 

    He explained that cobots can easily be reprogrammed to solve new tasks to meet the short-run production challenge faced by companies and, thereafter, adjusted to ever more advanced processing in smaller batch sizes. The adoption of cobots can help expand the manufacturing sector’s contribution to the economy and boost innovation and capacity for Small & Medium Enterprises (SME). 

    The Philippine manufacturing industry is a key growth driver of the economy, accounting for almost a quarter of the country’s GDP. However, automation levels among local manufacturing firms are still low. Automation can potentially raise productivity and GDP growth in Philippines, generating higher incomes for workers, increased market opportunities for companies, and paving the way towards a globally competitive manufacturing industry.

    According to Universal Robots, firms that have gone the automation route have increased production by as much as 300 percent; while reducing defects by 90 percent, and lifting profits by 20 percent. Universal Robots is targeting key industries such as electronics, automotive, semiconductor, food & beverage, furniture, and consumer products.

    “Tomorrow’s workplace will be run by highly-skilled workers assisted by intelligent devices. Cobots help automate and streamline repetitive and potentially unsafe processes, thus ensuring safe work environment while increasing productivity and efficiency,” said Adams.

    Cobots take on new roles

    Universal Robots offers 7 models of simple, flexible, and affordable collaborative robot arms—UR3UR5UR10 from the CB3 series; and UR3e, UR5e, UR10e and UR16e  from the e-Series—each named after their payloads in kilos. Flexible ±360 degree rotation of all joints allows usage in confined spaces. These cobots can be floor, ceiling, and wall mounted as required. Instead of requiring skilled programmers, cobots come with a tablet sized touch screen user interface, where the user guides the robot arm by indicating movements on the screen

    Universal Robots customers typically see ROI within the first year. This is the case at Benchmark Electronics, a US-based global engineering, manufacturing and integrated technology solutions provider for OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), where the company has successfully deployed six Universal Robots’ industrial cobots in their assembly and testing processes in its Korat, Thailand operations. 

    Cobots are now the fastest-growing segment of industrial automation, with the yearly annual revenue for cobot arms expected to reach USD 11.8-billion by 2030, up from USD 1.9-billion in 2018, according to ABI Research.

    Universal Robots is represented by distribution partners in the Philippines with more information at https://www.universal-robots.com/distributors/

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