Collaborative Innovations Start with an “e”

Everything you need to know about the new Universal Robots e-Series – presented worldwide at Automatica and, in Italy, at BI-MU – which further improves the characteristics of the UR3, UR5 and UR10 cobots in terms of hardware, software and safety features, making them even more suitable for processes that require high precision and sensitivity.

by Fabrizio Garnero e Fabrizio Dalle Nogare

The most significant innovations cannot always be appreciated at a first glance. Sometimes it’s better to turn attention to what lies behind the appearance. In fact, while the range of models – with 3, 5 and 10 kg payload – does not change at all, Universal Robots cobots show some additional peculiarities that increase flexibility, versatility, ease of use and integration in existing machines and lines. “With the new e-Series, Universal Robots raises the bar, redefining the state of the art as for cobots”, explains Alessio Cocchi, Sales Development Manager of UR Italia, whom we met at Automatica 2018. “Further improvements concern both the hardware and the software, made even easier in terms of HMI through the optimization of the graphics. The teach pendant has also been redesigned and the robot programming and control software has been simplified, making set up easier”.

Easy Empowerment for Everyone
Behind the starting “e” of “e-Series” lies the vision of Universal Robots, well represented by the payoff Easy Empowerment for Everyone. “Besides being an evolution of the previous product – with which the new series can easily coexist – some concepts have been strengthened indeed: among these, the ease of use of our cobots and the fact that they are designed not only to be accessible to all operators working alongside the machine. UR cobots also help and support the operators, indeed encouraging their empowerment”, adds Mr Cocchi.
Talking about ease of use, it takes less than an hour to pull out the e-Series cobot from its box, mount it and program the first task. The integration within the production lines is further shortened thanks to the presence of a communication interface on the robot wrist. Here, also a force/torque sensor, natively integrated on the sixth axis, is mounted, giving the e-Series even more precision and sensitivity.

From the 17 integrated security functions to simplified maintenance
Improvements also concern the safety equipment: two more native safety functions have been integrated, that is to say the possibility to customize break time and distance, for a total of 17 safety functions integrated into the cobot for human-robot collaboration in the absence of protective barriers. In addition, maintenance operations have been made quicker and easier, allowing the replacement of any of the cobot joints in only 2 to 6 minutes.
“The features of the Universal Robots e-Series expand the range of cobots possible applications”, continues the Sales Development Manager of UR Italia. “Above all, they make the new series an extra option for both current customers and potential new customers interested in automating their applications – even in a primary sector such as the assembly one – which require a high level of dexterity, precision and sensitivity. In addition, the e-Series perfectly fits the highly innovative UR+ online showroom of accessories (see box, ed): from tools to vision systems, up to IoT components and more”.

A potential to be fully grasped
An offer, the one of Universal Robots, which is particularly suited to the characteristics of the Italian industrial fabric, not only for the presence of several SMEs, but also and specifically for the strong specialization of many of these in productions with a high technical level. “In recent years, Italian companies have certainly gained awareness of the opportunities arising from the new types of robots”, suggests Alessio Cocchi. “There is still a lot of work to do, however, to be able to fully grasp the potential of collaborative robotics. The cobots, whose peculiarities are very different compared to traditional industrial robots, should be seen as true flexibility enablers. The approach to this technology should therefore be joined by a thorough change of attitude. The management and programming of a cobot should be matters for everyone, just as it happens with other tools”.