Their new Italian “home” is only a few steps from the river Po in Turin. We are talking about the collaborative robots that the Danish company Universal Robots started manufacturing a little more than a decade ago in the Ødense headquarters with quite an ambitious goal: to make production process more democratic. Last March, we took part in the opening ceremony of the new headquarters.
di Fabrizio Dalle Nogare
“No company is too small, nor too big to welcome one of our cobots”. The president of Universal Robots Jürgen von Hollen, who was in Turin on March 13, summed up the vision of the Danish manufacturer. “UR collaborative robots can be suitable for virtually any industry or automated application. If we consider that 90% of potential users of our technology are not yet aware of the possibilities offered by cobots, we are only at the beginning of our path”, he added. The vision for the near future is quite clear, then. “We are specialized in technology. We want to make our robots at best and keep on focusing only on the robotic arm: we do not want to produce vision systems, gripping systems or other end effectors. And we will also keep on focusing on those tools that make the use of our robots easier, such as the free online training platform UR Academy, which has attracted over 20,000 users worldwide, and the Universal Robots+ suite”. Talking about figures, the increase in the demand for collaborative robots worldwide has led UR to a turnover of 151 million euro in 2017, with the aim, for 2018, to further increase revenues by at least 50%.
Plans for the future: the revamp of the human touch
“The direct presence of UR in Italy is a project that started nearly two years ago and the inauguration of the new headquarters is certainly an important cornerstone, which certifies the work we have done so far and shows the potential of collaborative robotics in the Italian market”, said Alessio Cocchi, Sales Development Manager of UR Italia. “The choice of Turin is anything but random: we are in a territory rich in skills and important robotics or industrial automation companies. From these headquarters we aim to coordinate sales activities throughout the country, also relying on the support of our distributors”. And what about the humans? As collaborative robots are designed to share their work area with operators in the manufacturing industry, it was inevitable to tackle a topic – that of the role of humans in the factory of the future – which is also taking on a social connotation. During his speech, President von Hollen talked about “Industry 5.0” as a scenario that restores power to workers and gives a significant human touch to production. “Human-robot cooperation is expected to trigger competitiveness. We firmly believe that workers and robots are complementary and that the sum of their features will lead to real improvement. Our idea of the industry of the future is truly focused on humans, also concerning their living and working conditions”.