© OnRobot Electronics Production | November 13, 2019
The ripple effect of Enrico Krog Iversen
while being an active part in creating one of the fastest growing robotics companies in modern time might have been enough for most people, that does not seem to have slowed down a certain Danish entrepreneur.
From being the CEO that captained Danish robot arm manufacturer, Universal Robots (UR), to success and into a dominant force among collaborative robot suppliers, Enrico Krog Iversen, wanted the next challenge in automation – creating a single shop supplier of end-of-arm tooling. In some sense, Enrico had already launched and established the idea during his time at UR with the robotic arm supplier’s open ecosystem where other companies could supply tools to make the arms more modular, being with the use of different grippers or cameras or what have you. So, having already opened this space within one of the fastest-growing collaborative robotics suppliers, what was it that you saw was missing that made you feel that there was actually room for OnRobot on this market? “Actually I don’t think we’re playing in the same market. As I see it there is one other company that is playing in the same league. If you look at it, there are companies supplying grippers, and other supplying sensors, and they are very good at that, but they are all focusing on one technology. But they will not cover an entire application.” Enrico elaborates and explains that OnRobot can – and will – supply any product that you might need to cover the application. He uses the example of having several suppliers to complete one application where there might be multiple designers and manufacturers supplying all the moving parts – which can at times create compatibility issues. That is something that won’t happen with OnRobot, one supplier for everything, everything the company does fits and works together – the LEGO way so to say. “With the latest launch this September, we have built a completely new programming and integration platform. Now that we already have this in place, everything that follows will go a lot smoother as we don’t have to think about the demanding parts such as programming and integration.” The current goal for the company is to achieve “complete coverage” – being able to offer any tool one would possibly need for any and all applications. And according to Enrico the market can expect to see some 30 tools to be released by the company over the next year. This is already quite the feat from a company being as young as OnRobot, how many engineering hours did it actually take to get the company to where it sits currently? “I don’t know the number of hours, but it has taken us nine months to develop the integration with all the different robot brands. So the deep dive into that part and all that communication and electrical that goes with it has taken three quarters of a year; but now we have our backbone. With that behind us, developing new products will just take a few months, and we already have products lined up for releases for three quarters ahead – quite a few.” But besides the backbone and the R&D-setup, the company has also managed to create its basic global sales network and marketing foundation. Basically everything is now in place for the company to kick in to high gear. Right now OnRobot has about 60 employees working in R&D and some 30-35 employees covering the company’s operations/manufacturing (which takes place in Denmark, Hungary and Los Angeles) to this we can also add the sales organisations and offices spread out over the world which all together brings the company’s total workforce to more than 150 employees.. It is quite interesting that Odense, a small city even by Nordic standards and even more so by European, has become the robotics hub that it is, why do think that is? “To answer that I think we have to go back to the 70’s. We had these big shipyards in Odense that did a lot of research in robotic welding and I believe that is where it all started. This later led to more business development, which in turn allowed universities to establish new faculties to continue to supply manpower to this new industry.” Enrico explains that Universal Robots was, in a way, the spark to the industry. It was the first real commercial success in Odense, and that also brought with it more than just the financial benefits of being a successful company. “It showed young people that it is possible to have an idea and take it globally. The money that was generated in the sale of UR to Teradyne was also reinvested in robotics in Odense. And has birthed several new robotics companies in the region” Looking at your own role in this – what part did you play? “I think my role has very much been that of an enabler. I was able to take some really good technical ideas and turn them into commercially viable success stories. I guess it was my go-to-market strategy that allowed us to achieve the success that we did as quickly as we did.” The CEO also has quite the refreshing outlook on the market space and the companies that occupy it. He views the companies as both colleagues and competitors, saying that while the companies – to some extent – are fighting for the same market space, they are also colleagues in furthering the solutions and the support of the total market growth. In a way, they are together creating a bigger pie from which they all can eat. “If we look at traditional manufacturing, or what is usually seen as traditional labour or hard labour. There are still a lot of tasks that can be automated, especially in the SME-segment,” Enrico says while stressing that this does not necessarily mean replacing workers, but rather enhancing the workers and easing the task for them. “I think we will see a lot of growth coming from the food and beverages and agricultural segments.” And with that being said, the market is still growing as new tasks are being automated, new segments are being introduced and new applications are being discovered. And as far as Enrico is concerned, OnRobot intends to lead the end-of-arms tooling side of this growth.