There was a talk about a new advancement in robotic manufacturing technology, enabling robot workers to be integrated into the labour force to increase productivity and efficiency. Known as ‘Cobots’, which means collaborative Robots, they are a combination of industrial robotics and automation. But, what led to their success? Mr. Pradeep David, Country Head, India & Sri Lanka Universal Robots tells ELE Times. Excerpts:
ELE Times – Please give us the comparative analysis of present scenario of cobots in India and international market.
Pradeep David– We introduced cobots in India just about a year and a half or may be 2 years ago. We entered the Indian Market in February 2016 so it’s a relatively new concept in India because robots have been around since 30-40 years but what we represent are collaborative robots, which are great to work alongside humans. If you look at robots in general, India is way down on the total score, like last year about 2,800 robots were imported into India but if you compare that with china that was 90,000, so for every 1 robot coming into India it’s like 31 in china, that’s the idea of the scale. So India has not adopted robotic technology very well, for various reasons, its expensive, it does replace labor, it is unsafe. However cobots are relatively inexpensive when you look at the installed cost, not just the robot cost but the installed cost, of running it, or the maintenance contract, the power consumption,the safety aspect, all these things.
From a global stand point we are the leaders in this technology, inventions and we have about 20,500 of these machines installed globally by far. We are the leaders of collaborative robots so we believe that we have more than 60 % of the market not just we, the study also show that. The market is growing at an incredible pace. There are different studies ranging from 50% compound annual growth rate to 65% is the growth rate for the last 5 years which is a very stagnantly a fast growing industry.
ELE Times–How have Indian companies reacted to cobots?
Pradeep David – I give you the example of our largest customer, Bajaj Automotive. They started a little earlier than we came to India, they bought it from Denmark itself and they started with our 1 robot in 2010 as an experiment and the very next year they bought 23, today they have over 150 cobots so that’s the exponential pace of adoption of this technology at Bajaj. Seeing this, there’s other clients too when they buy one and test it out and within the next year we see orders of 10, multiples of 10 come in very rapidly once they understand the technology. The fact that it’s easy to program by their own people, they are not constant to program in Germany or something like that so they can do it themselves.
ELE Times–Do you thinks these cobots will eat into jobs for humans?
Pradeep David – This is a very common question;in fact we have got a very interesting view on this. We don’t believe that cobots can in any which way take jobs. So I will give you one example that in Auro lab in Madurai, there is a video on YouTube where Universal Robots Aurolab, a 3 minutes video we make lens and that lenses used to cost Rs 3000, which is a lot of money for a poor person.
These lenses have now come down to Rs 270 so its 1/10 the price of what they were. How did that happen? And the quality has not changed the quality got better so we have 16 machines 16 CMC machines, wherein they do the machining.
The girls who worked there are typically the girls who have finished highs school and they are looking for their 1st job. So 90% of the workforce is women. We trained them to use these cobots. 1 cobot is handling 2 machines and that’s how 50 machines. Long story short, they used to make 150-200 lenses a day today they are making over 10,000 lenses every single day on the same machine.
ELE Times–Tell us a bit about the Universal Robots Academy?
Pradeep David– Yes I think we firmly believe that technology makes people more competitive and productive long term. So we want to make this technology accurate for as many people as possible. We are one of the 1st robotic companies. If you log into our website, UR Academy is there and it is basically free. So we have 14,000 users in 132 countries that have signed up on the academy.People who want to learn robotics, you just go online and there are 9 modules depending upon how complex you are and how does robot work and how does I set up the tool. How do I excel the program? You know how I interact with the internal devices, safety planes and this entire thing. If you are smart enough to use smart phones come to our website and you will learn how robots work. And this has started so many ideas in USA. It is also being used in many universities in India like IITs PSG techs, to work alongside students. So universities are also using this technology.
ELE Times –As mentioned cobots have, other easier applications, major areas where UR robots have been used so could you please explain that?
Pradeep David – When we look at our cobots thing, used in 8th major area. So there are more but 8 are what we would categorize them. 1st is just pick and place, 100’s of people are basically employed today just to move one box from here to there or to place one in front of the other, you know very little intellect they use and it is ideally a job for a robot, that a robot can do for 24 hours a day. You don’t need much skill; you don’t need much intelligence to do that. Pick and place is a very common application that we have.
ELE Times- Also as you said it’s a very promisingmarket, so how will market scenario be like in next 5 years.
Pradeep David – it’s a blistering pace, in India we have been around for 2 years now and if you count 2015 we were there. We have been doubling every year, the 100% growth we expect to see that in the next 5 years. We were actually 100% growth and we see more signs of the market flowing down. We see a lot of partners coming to us saying we want to sign up with you. And the only way we go to market is through partner, may be the one who are the experts in electronics or those are very good in metro logy or in FMCG. So we sign up partners in different areas and we don’t see that stopping. A lot of people are coming at our doors to sign up. Competition is coming in but so this market is taking the imagination of India because we are not saying to go to the top, we are making the product much more economical and qualitative.