Collaborative robots are expected to play a very important role
Published on : Saturday 01-01-2022
Sameer Gandhi, Managing Director, OMRON Automation, India.
Collaborative robots have been around for almost 15 years now. How has the market evolved during this period?
Over the last few years, the market has really understood and taken to the benefits offered by cobots. The advancement in safety sensors and applications has further enhanced the dexterity of the cobots while working with humans and thus making it an increasingly attractive option for such applications. More players coming into the market has also helped expand it.
What was the rationale and the synergies at work that first led to a strategic collaboration and now investment in Techman Robot?
The motive of our strategic collaboration, in 2018, was to globally market and sell Techman's TM series of collaborative robots via OMRON's worldwide distribution network under a co-branded logo and also to work together in developing the next generation of collaborative robots that will be easier to integrate with OMRON's other factory automation products in order to realise an innovative manufacturing environment where humans and machines work in harmony.
Of late, the need for automation of assembly and transportation processes, which are mainly performed by humans, is witnessing a significant growth from the perspective of realising a safe working environment and improving productivity. Collaborative robots are expected to play a very important role here. This is one of the major driving forces that have motivated us to take a step further in our relationship with TM and make a transition from a strategic alliance to a capital alliance. We also realised that it is essential to build a deeper relationship in order to combine the technologies of both and provide further value to customers.
Also, this will help us to boost our robotics business by developing new collaborative robots with enhanced integration with OMRON controller.
This investment will lead to strengthening of our robotics business to further accelerate "Collaboration between Humans and Machines” to realise "Advanced Collaboration between Humans and Machines" and "Intelligent manufacturing site" of "innovative-Automation": our unique manufacturing innovation concept.
Are collaborative robots taking over some of the tasks which were seen as the preserve of industrial robots?
A cobot is not an alternative for an industrial-bot and vice versa. Both come with their own applications defined by their own capabilities. Hence, the choice between a cobot and a robot needs to be made based on the application at hand and the work environment.
Also, most of the times, a cobot is more expensive than an industrial robot. And while it is true that industrial robots require more accompaniments (like fencing, safety scanners, etc.), which adds to the overall cost, many cobot applications also require interfacing of some safety devices to be able to perform optimally. Hence, one needs to look at the total cost of implementation and not just the cost of devices.
Going forward, what are the kind of solutions the industry can expect from the Omron-Techman collaboration?
TM's collaborative robot platform and OMRON Corporation's high-speed/high-accuracy control technology for manufacturing sites will be combined to realise advanced collaboration between humans and machines in manufacturing sites. Taking advantage of the strengthened relationship, we plan to start joint development and launch a next-generation collaborative robot platform by the end of FY2023. With the innovative use of OMRON’s integrated controller, we will try to achieve higher operating accuracy and faster speed in the new collaborative robot. In addition, synchronous control with peripheral devices (Drive, Sensor and so on) will also become possible, with improved productivity can be improved.
Sameer Gandhi has over 30 years of experience in marketing, sales, operations, service and managing profit centres in a multi-cultural matrix structure for product and project businesses across several industry verticals like F&B, pulp & paper, cement, mining, minerals, material handling, automotive, etc. He has experience of Middle-eastern and Indian sub-continent markets besides India.