Labor shortages in manufacturing and COVID-19 concerns have led to growing demand for automation. OMRON Corp. yesterday announced that it has agreed to invest in Techman Robot Inc., which claimed to be the world's second-largest maker of collaborative robots. OMRON said it will hold approximately 10% of Techman when the transaction is completed in December 2021.
Demand is growing for robots that can safely work alongside people without safety barriers and that can flexibly handle multiple tasks, said the companies. In addition, cobots must be able to ensure productivity as well as safety.
“The environment surrounding the manufacturing industry is changing significantly,” stated Junta Tsujinaga, president of Industrial Automation Business Co. “Anticipating these changes, since 2016, OMRON has pursued advanced manufacturing with the unique value-generation concept 'innovative automation' to resolve issues that manufacturing sites face.”
OMRON advances innovative automation concept
Founded in 1933, OMRON has about 30,000 employees worldwide and offers products and services in about 120 countries and regions. The company, whose U.S. headquarters are in Hoffmann Estates, Ill., said its businesses include industrial automation, electrical components, healthcare, and environmental systems.
OMRON said it is committed to bringing innovation and productivity to factories through “three i's.” The first is integrated control evolution—automated control technology enabling even inexperienced operators to perform work that previously required operators with expertise.
The second “i” is intelligence developed by information and communications technology (ICT) providers. OMRON said it wants to develop constantly evolving equipment and production lines. By adopting a wide range of control devices and artificial intelligence, machines can learn through experience and maintain themselves in optimal condition.
The third “i” is interaction between people and machines, according to the company. As they work together in the same workspace, machines must be able to assist operators by recognizing human thoughts and behaviors on production floors, OMRON said.
Techman Robot pursues cobot leadership
Founded in 2015, Techman Robot said it is the only Taiwanese brand and manufacturer of collaborative robots. With more than 100 dealers in Asia and Europe, the company said its cobots include built-in vision, intelligent factory management software, and application solutions.
In 2018, OMRON entered into a strategic alliance with Techman to meet manufacturers' needs. Since then, Techman's TM-series robots have been sold as a co-branded product globally through OMRON's distribution network.
“Techman Robot has penetrated the global market and successfully become the world's second-largest collaborative robot company since 2018,” said Dr. Shi-Chi Ho, chairman of Techman Robot. “Under the alliance, Techman's collaborative robot has enhanced [its] reputation all over the world with OMRON, which helps achieve our company's mission of improving the lives of humans through innovation. We aim to close the gap for every business and create smart factory solutions for human-machine collaboration.”
The companies have also jointly developed a mobile manipulator using OMRON's mobile robots and the TM-series cobots.
Partners strengthen ties, eye new markets
“We have focused on robot technology and market development since [OMRON] acquired industrial robot maker Adept Technology Co. in 2015,” said Tsujinaga. “In 2018, we added Techman's collaborative robots to our product lineup. The strengthening our alliance with Techman at this time further pushes the evolution of collaboration between humans and machines in manufacturing.”
OMRON aims to mitigate the problem of labor shortages in manufacturing and plans to develop automation to serve other sectors as well, he added.
“We are delighted to deepen our longstanding relationship with OMRON through this collaboration,” said Dr. Shi-Hi Ho. “We believe our partnership will open new innovative doors into the future. OMRON and Techman Robot will together deliver a highly flexible and scalable collaborative robot solution, assisting customers to easily and fully integrate collaborative robotics into smart manufacturing.”
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