To help its customers better understand how its collaborative robots can be used for a range of applications, Universal Robots A/S last week hosted an open house at The Robert E. Morris Co.’s facility in Dover, N.H.
Participating companies included 3D InfoTech, Caron Engineering, Custom Service Solutions, Flexxbotics, Mid Atlantic Automation, Newscale Robotics, Robotiq, Robot27, and Vectis.
“A lot of people see our Universal Robots moving around with a gripper or picking up a part in our standard demos,” said Austin Brais, New England business development manager at Universal Robots. “This really gives a breadth of all the different applications you can automate. It’s not always just pick-and-place tasks.”
The Odense, Denmark-based company decided to host the open house at Robert E. Morris’ facility because it is a partner of Universal Robots. Robert E. Morris is a machine tool distributor and sells CNC machines and other industrial equipment, said Mike Locke, productivity specialist at the Morris Group. Its other partners include Tsugami, Okuma, Trumpf, Geminis, Soraluce, Momentum, Velocity, National, MP Systems, Chevalier, and Desktop Metal.
Morris teamed up with Universal Robots two years ago as more of its customers requested automated systems in response to the pandemic.
“It’s excellent pairing—– putting robots on CNC machines,” he said. “It’s just an excellent partnership having robots on board to help serve our customers and what they need to do.”
Here’s a look at some companies we saw showcasing interesting cobot use cases.
Welding is a hot application
At Vectis Automation’s booth, Sam Eckdahl showed off his company’s welding and plasma cutting end-of-arm tools (EOAT). He said it takes years of practice for a welder to become a master of his craft. With the use of robots, companies can get that precision in less time.
“It is extremely difficult and takes a long time to get proficient at welding, at least to the point where you can make a career out of it,” Eckdahl said. “I’m not a welder by any means, but I can make the robot put down some very pretty wells.”
During the open house, Vectis’ cobot was emulating the motions of welding from a variety of angles.
The Loveland, Colo.-based company also has a plasma-cutting deployment option. It sells its products as integrated systems and includes EOAT and a UR cobot.
Echdahl said Universal Robots has done a lot to reduce the stigma around using cobots for a variety of tasks.
“What Universal Robots has done as a company has proven that these are industrial robots,” he said.
A flexible multi-tool mount helps measure and pick
Newscale Robotics manufactures grippers and multi-tool mounts. Fred Haas, sales manager at Newscale Robotics, said what sets the company’s grippers apart is that they can not only pick things up, but they can also measure.
“We automate manual gauging,” he said. “Our whole take on this is that once you manufacture a part, you have to inspect it. If you’re spending 40 hours-plus a week inspecting a part, we’ll help to automate that process so the person can be more productive doing other things.”
The company is a certified Universal Robots systems integrator, Haas added.
At its booth, Newscale Robotics demonstrated a handful of its grippers in action. One picked pieces of equipment from a conveyor belt. The others were set to measure the height and diameter of the objects.
The company sells a range of gauging workstations. The workstations include a UR cobots, standard gauges, Newscale’s smart grippers and calipers, and its easy-to-use software built on Universal Robots’ platform.
Cobots find use for metal and sheet fabricators
Josh Mayse, vice president at Mid Atlantic Automation, said his company focuses on providing services for the sheet metal industry, with press brake tending being its biggest application.
The company spun out of Mid Atlantic Machinery earlier this year and sells the Robotic Modular Fabricator Package. The package is comprised of a UR10e robot arm, a Trumpf press brake, and the company’s patented gripping technology.
Mayse said Mid Atlantic Automation has deployed 15 of the fabricator packages and 20 of them sold.
He noted that the cobot is “a great base platform for so many things.” Mayse mentioned the food industry and how cobots have even been used to decorate cakes.
“You can do anything with these robots,” he said. “I really think you are going to see more and more applications.”
When compared with industrial automation, he added, cobots have “a lower cost of implementation and just an overall easier user experience.”