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Increasing demand for robotics in Malaysia's manufacturing industry: Universal Robots interview

AvantiKumar | April 10, 2015
Shermine Gotfreden of Universal Robots outlines some of benefits the company's new UR3 tabletop robot is delivering to Malaysia and Asia's manufacturing industries, which includes the making of medical devices and electronic components.

Following the recent launch in Asia by industrial robots manufacturer Universal Robots in Asia of the UR3 tabletop robot, Computerworld Malaysia asked the company's APAC general manager, Shermine Gotfreden, for a few more insights on how this new solution will benefit Asia's manufacturing sector.

The UR3 is suited for the manufacture of medical devices, circuit boards, electronic components, among others, said Gotfreden. The robot meets the needs for those manufacturing sectors that need speedy, precise and consistent movements between waypoints to ensure uniform product output in confined spaces and environments containing toxic or hazardous materials.

Earlier this year, Universal Robots officially opened its Singapore-based APAC headquarters, and now has six global offices. The company has been expanding rapidly into the Asia region during the past three years due to rapidly increasing demand for collaborative robots, she said. Though officially formed in 2005, the company's three founders, Esben Østergaard, Kasper Støy and Kristian Kassow first met and started collaborating in 2003 at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense.

Since the first UR robot entered the market in December 2008, the company said it has seen substantial growth with the robots now being sold in more than 50 countries worldwide.  Average payback period for UR robots is the fastest in the industry with only 195 days, it said. Universal Robots' global sales target is a doubling of revenue every year from 2014 to 2017


Shermine Gotfreden - Universal Robots APAC 

Photo -: Shermine Gotfreden, General Manager, APAC, Universal Robots

Could you give a brief overview of the UR3 robot and some of the story of the development?

The UR3, which went through a three-year development phase, is an affordable tabletop robot that has a payload of 3kg and weighs a mere 11kg. We wanted to create a collaborative robot that completely changed the game, something that could benefit everybody. In doing this, we reversed the features of the classic industrial robot on nearly every point.

Due to its small footprint (size), compactness and lightweight nature, the UR3 can be deployed without the need for manufacturers to alter the layout of their production lines and can now go into production lines where no traditional robots could. It allows for 360-degree rotation on all wrist joints and infinite rotation on the end joint.

There are currently many industrial robots being deployed in the heavy-duty industries because no human can lift the big payloads in those working conditions. However, there are big market segments out there where many tasks involving small payloads are still being manually handled by workers. With a lightweight and compact collaborative robot, businesses now have the opportunity to automate some of these manual tasks where the robot acts as a third arm to an operator.  

What value does UR3 aim to deliver to the manufacturing industry in Malaysia and the Asia Pacific region?

As a compact tabletop robot with the capabilities to function efficiently as the second member of a two-man team or as a standalone operator, UR3 will revolutionise the manufacturing industry, especially for products such as medical devices, circuit boards and electronic components that require fast, precise and consistent movements between waypoints.

From pick and place and assembly to polish, glue and screw applications, the robots enable manufacturers to maintain uniform product output. For example, the robot can pick up screws, mount and tighten them while applying the correct torque.


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