© Universal Robots Business | October 16, 2019
Specialisation kept Universal Robots agile through the years
Universal Robots, the Danish robotics company that many analysts credit with both creating and taking over the collaborative robot space.
In many ways we can attribute the shear amount of cobots in use throughout the world to Universal Robots. While UR might not have actually introduced cobots to the market, the company found the right recipe for making them not only an economically viable solution, but also a flexible one. In contrast to the larger, heavier and more static industrial robots that one might think of when talking about robotic arms – those supplied by the likes of ABB, KUKA, and Yaskawa – Universal Robots have stayed with one specific constant; be nimble. The company’s biggest and heaviest robot arm – which can handle a payload of 16kg – weighs only 33kg. If we look at an industrial equivalent in terms of payload management, the robot itself weighs closer to 380 kg. Clearly, the company has been able to offer an automation solution that is more manageable for companies both in terms of usability and footprint. Something that is also visible in the market share that UR is holding. Evertiq had the opportunity to chat with Jürgen von Hollen, president of Universal Robots, about how a seemingly small Danish startup has managed to not only create and dominate a new market, but is expanding in it too. One of the recurring themes in our conversation is the fact that – despite the company being almost 14 years old and having had its products out on the market for many years – it still moves and navigates the market with the agility of startup. “I believe this is one of the reasons to why we are in the position we are, that and our focus. Just the simple fact that we focus on what we’re good at, which is the robotic arm, and don’t venture out doing multiple things. Companies have wanted us to customise the arm throughout the years, but we have contentiously said no, and in the last 14 years, we haven’t really changed the product from its original form at all.” What UR did do however, was to allow others to build upon their solution. They knew the limit to their in-house expertise and, like Mr. von Hollen explains, realised that introducing their own add-ons to the arm would require a different business set up. Furthermore, it would pull away resources from their focus area. “We took a decision to focus on the robot arm. We’re not going to do anything else, the arm is what we do. Staying on top of just something like the hardware, that alone is tough but that’s what we do.” That being said, you can still listen to market demands and address those in your own way. So, instead of being the automation solutions supplier that will develop and produce everything, UR continues to focus on its arm. The rest is left to other companies; experts in their respective fields. “This is a far more powerful model than having one single company controlling everything. Now you have companies that have solutions based on our arm, adding a camera, gripper and whatever you want, and we not only allow this but also encourage it.” Back in 2017, Universal Robots was basically a company that “had invented one invention”, as Mr von Hollen explains. What followed was a transformation into a process enabling company – and now – (with feedback from its customers) – an applications management company via its open ecosystem. The business model of having an open ecosystem where anyone can participate in building upon UR’s robotic arms has allowed the Danish company to stay nimble and agile. Today, the company has more than 400 different developers working within the ecosystem. But what makes Universal Robots arm a successful cobot? The arm itself needs to tick several boxes: it needs to be lightweight, reliable, cost-efficient, provide longevity and – most of all – needs to be easy to use. If the programming becomes too complex, it’s appeal as a cobot is lost. So, the secret of success for UR is specialisation rather than being a “jack of all trades”. 37'000 sold cobots worldwide (report from ABI Research) has placed UR comfortably in the lead, ahead of Taiwanese provider Techman and Korea-based Doosan with 10'000 and 2'000 units sold respectively. “This is the reason why we are here. Not the numbers themselves, but the fact that we’re bringing people back into production with our robot arm. When you look at it, many other automation solutions have brought along the very opposite. But with the products that we supply, companies can keep production and bring it back as we don’t replace people, we empower them with the aid of a robotic arm,” says Mr. von Hollen.
JEOL Ltd. acquires Integrated Dynamic Electron Solutions JEOL Ltd. , manufacturer of semiconductor equipment and other industrial instruments and equipment, announced the acquisition of Integrated Dynamic Electron Solutions Inc. (IDES), an entrepreneurial venture specializing in technologies related to transmission electron microscopy (TEM).
NEXT receives major order for Indian government program NEXT Biometrics has received an order for UIDAI and STQC certified fingerprint biometric readers in India with a value of USD 750,000.
Cadence completes acquisition of AWR from NI Cadence Design Systems, Inc. has completed the acquisition of AWR Corporation from National Instruments Corporation.
Fiat Chrysler and Foxconn plans EV joint venture A new competitor in the industry for electric vehicles are in the making.
Collins Aerospace inks multimillion-dollar space contract Collins Aerospace Systems has signed a contract with Lockheed Martin to provide critical subsystems to support production of NASA’s Orion spacecraft fleet for Artemis missions III through VIII.
Imagination Technologies expands with new European design centre Imagination Technologies has opened a new design centre in Timisoara, Romania. The centre will focus on IP designed for artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision.
AKI Electronic becomes Schurter Electronics As part of the further integration into the Schurter Group, AKI Electronic spol. s r.o. changes its name to SCHURTER Electronics spol. s r.o.
From Bosch to Silicon Mobility - Kallenbach takes the helm Automotive semiconductor company, Silicon Mobility, has appointed former Robert Bosch GmbH executive Rainer Kallenbach as CEO of the company as of January 6, 2020. The current CEO Bruno Paucard will remain with the company as COO and on the Board of Directors.
NEXT Biometrics reorganises - reduces headcount NEXT Biometrics says it is executing a program to optimise the organisation and cost base with its strategic priorities and market opportunities; which also translates to layoffs
LPKF delivers laser system to semiconductor industry customer In December, LPKF delivered – for the first time – a highly automated version of its LIDE system for integration into a semiconductor fab to an unnamed semiconductor manufacturers.
ROHM company SiCrystal & STMicro ink wafer supply deal ROHM and STMicroelectronics have signed a multi-year silicon carbide (SiC) wafers supply agreement with SiCrystal, a ROHM group company having a top share of SiC wafers in Europe.
Cadence expands collaboration with Broadcom Cadence Design Systems says it has expanded its collaboration with Broadcom Inc. for the creation of semiconductor solutions targeting next-generation networking, broadband, enterprise storage, wireless and industrial applications.
Marvell expands R&D footprint in India Marvell has announced the addition of its new facility in Bangalore, part of Marvell India Private Limited, the company’s second largest research and development (R&D) effort spanning three sites – Bangalore, Pune and Hyderabad.
imec spin-off raises €4,5 million in funding MICLEDI Microdisplays, the latest spin-off of imec, has raised EUR 4,5 million seed capital from imec.xpand, with participation of PMV and FIDIMEC.
Synopsys to acquire certain IP assets of INVECAS The acquisition broadens the company’s IP portfolio and adds a team of experienced R&D engineers to the company’s development department.
Fire at Kioxia's Yokkaichi NAND fab A fire broke out at Kioxia’s Yokkaichi plant – a joint venture facility owned by Kioxia and Western Digital – in Japan on January 7.
New Hella electronics JV starts production in China The joint venture HELLA BHAP Electronics has started production. The company was founded in 2018 by HELLA and BHAP, one of the largest automotive suppliers in China.
European backing for Prodrive's growth plans The European Investment Bank is providing a EUR 50 million loan to Dutch technology company Prodrive Technologies.
Murata acquires 3DHaptics company Murata Manufacturing and MIRAISENS, which offers haptic solutions technology using 3DHaptics technology, have signed an agreement for MIRAISENS to become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Murata Manufacturing.
Diodes updates on Lite-On acquisition Since the initial announcement of the acquisition back in August, 2019, all customary closing conditions have been met, including approval by the Lite-On shareholders. In conjunction, Diodes has been working through the final process of securing the required regulatory approvals in both Taiwan and China.
Grant helps Diodes to grow in Greenock Semiconductor manufacturer Diodes Incorporated has received a GBP 13.7 million funding package from Scottish Enterprise towards a GBP 47 million project enabling its future growth in Greenock, Scotland.
Murata starts construction on new production building Okayama Murata Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (Setouchi, Okayama Prefecture), started construction on a new production building in December 2019.Load more news