Universal Robots A/S today announced that its collaborative robots will soon be part of Siemens' Totally Integrated Automation, or TIA, portal. This will enable systems integrators and machine builders to integrate cobot arms into complex manufacturing environments, it said. The UR cobots will become part of the Simatic Robot Library in the TIA environment through an interpreter interface expected to be complete in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to the company.
“Machinery and plant engineers, as well as manufacturers with large production facilities, will benefit from our cobots‘ TIA integration,” said Bernd Meier, director of global key accounts and OEMS at Universal Robots. “Thanks to the new interface, they will soon be able to apply our cobots’ functional diversity, precision, and repeatability within complex production lines, benefitting from all aspects of digitalized automation—from digital planning and integrated engineering to transparent operations.“
Siemens, Universal Robots develop partnership
“Siemens is a global account for Univeral Robots,” Meier told Robotics 24/7. “It buys our robots for its own manufacturing and has a significant installed base. As a large customer, Siemens is also providing input and requests for future features.”
In addition to providing its own technologies, Siemens acts as a systems integrator, building automation. “This isn't opening up a new market; it's more about a customer base that has different needs,” said Meier. “We're selling hundreds of robots into the automotive and electronics market per year, and Siemens knows how to integrate them.”
“They are working on a lot of digitalization for automation concepts, as well as implementation and management of production lines,” he added. “This is not like small and midsize enterprises [SMEs] with one robot on a CNC [computer numerical control] machine 24/7. They are really automating complete processes.”
Simatic Robot Libary designed to simplify deployment
The TIA Portal engineering framework is intended to support manufacturers planning extensive automation projects. In November 2020, Siemens presented the Simatic Robot Library as an addition to this application. The library allows users to program their cobots directly within the TIA Portal via a unified user interface and to include them in their planning.
Once the library includes UR cobots, it will expose a wider range of companies and industries to the technology's benefits in the context of complete plant engineering solutions, said the companies.
“We are welcoming Universal Robots as a new partner just in time for the start of the new Simatic Robot Library’s piloting,” stated Tobias Fengel, marketing manager at Siemens Digital Industries. “We are delighted that we will soon be able to offer our clients a forward-looking solution together with the cobot market leader.”
“The TIA Portal provides a software environment for digital twins and planning using 3D CAD simulation with virtual reality,” Meier explained. “UR cobots can be integrated with models, so customers can see how they will move and their performance in pre-concept.”
“Siemens worked with a number of manufacturers within the past one and a half years on the interpreter, so robots can execute instructions,” he said. “It then handed it over to the PROFINET [evaluation board]. Once the specification is released, then it can become an industry standard.”
Combining cobots with new technologies
Users will be able to use the TIA Portal to independently implement the UR cobots within major production lines and teach them functions such as jog mode or path point creation. The comprehensive library will allow users to download programming examples and use them to control UR cobots, said Universal Robots.
“Our cobots have always been characterized by their intuitive handling,” said Meier. “Their integration into the TIA portal via the Simatic Robot Library now accelerates their integration and implementation into complex production lines. It also makes it easier to combine the UR cobots with technologies like Edge data analyses or cloud services and include them in the monitoring of plant conditions.“
“Siemens' automation group is active in verticals such as automotive, logistics, and food and beverage,” he said. “If the big automotive suppliers plan for a new production line or new car type, they have all kinds of machinery including robots. If they choose Siemens, they can choose UR because the systems are harmonized, and they can deliver data for predictive maintenance, quality, and yields that it captures.”
About Universal Robots and Siemens DI
Odense, Denmark-based Universal Robots was founded in 2005 and has developed collaborative robots designed to be flexible and safe to work alongside people. Since the company launched its first cobot was launched in 2008, it has experienced considerable growth. Universal Robots is a unit of Teradyne Inc. and has regional offices in 19 countries worldwide. In 2020, the company had a revenue of $219 million (U.S.).
Universal Robots has delivered more than 51,000 cobots, thanks to its strategy of focusing on ease of use, a small footprint for collaboration and flexibiliity, and reasonable pricing, Meier claimed.
“In addition to our very wide market of SMEs, customers that want huge, complex projects can find our cobots are well-prepared to be integrated into PLC-controlled environments and to interact with different machines, such as conveyors,” he said. “There are predictions that the cobot market will continue growing 20% per year, and to keep our share, we must continue innovating.”
Nuremburg, Germany-based Siemens Digital Industries (DI) works closely with partners and customers to drive digital transformation in the process and discrete industries. With its Digital Enterprise portfolio, DI provides companies of all sizes products and services optimized for the specific needs of each industry to improve productivity. DI said it is constantly adding innovations to its portfolio and has about 76,000 employees internationally.