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Automotive industry projected to invest US$470 million in collaborative robots (cobots) by 2021, while electronics to invest approximately US$475 million in cobots.

SINGAPORE: From 2010 to 2015, robot numbers rose 70 per cent to 887,400 units, according to International Federation of Robotics. By 2025, it is estimated that 700,000 cobots will be installed globally. Robotic solutions experts On Robot and OptoForce are aggressively targeting Southeast Asia, aiming to grow 250 per cent in the region this year. Demand will come from the electronics, automotive and CNC machining industries.

This follows the appointment of Niels Ole Sinkbæk Sørensen as Area Sales Manager, Asia Pacific, who oversees business expansion in the region for both companies, based in Kuala Lumpur. Commenting on the promise of Southeast Asia, Niels said: “We see increasing robotic solution adoption in Southeast Asia with Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia leading the region in industrial robot density. This makes the region an important market with huge potential.”

Making Robotic Automation Easy

Based in Denmark, On Robot specialises in electric two-finger grippers, namely RG2 and RG6, for cobots. The grippers are compact, energy efficient and have adjustable parameters.  The On Robot software and gripper provide feedback to the cobot for greater functionality. Following the ‘plug and produce’ concept, they can be deployed quickly and easily on all Universal Robots (UR)’ cobot arms without external cables. They are used in various industries from electronics and automotive to banking and agriculture, carrying out pick and place, machine tending, packaging, testing and other tasks.

Hungarian OptoForce is a leading provider of multi-axis force and torque sensors for most industrial robots, combining silicone and infrared light. The sensors equip robots with a sense of touch. It can feel very small counterforces and make the corresponding course corrections in real time. This allows assembly tasks which require high precision to be automated such as pin insertion, arc welding and surface-finishing work like polishing, sanding and deburring.

OptoForce sensors have robust structures capable of withstanding high dynamic shocks, while being among the most precise sensors on the market. The OptoForce software also includes 14 pre-programmed applications when applied with a UR cobot, enabling easy, quick and cost-effective programming.

Southeast Asia is a powerhouse for the automotive industry in Asia. In Q1 2018, the region’s production rose 7.3 per cent to 1.09 billion vehicles, led by Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, according to ASEAN Automotive Federation. The automotive industry has been the largest driver of the robotics industry worldwide for decades. The market value for cobots in the global automotive industry was US$23.5 million in 2015 and is projected to reach US$470 million by 2021, at a CAGR of 64.67 percent between 2015 and 2021.

Electronics is the largest export sector in Southeast Asia, comprising 25 percent of the region’s total exports in goods. Top electronics producers include Thailand, Philippines and Malaysia. Electronics is the second largest cobot integrator, accounting for 18 percent of global demand in 2015. By 2021, electronics is forecast to invest approximately US$475 million in cobots.

“Advances in robotics and automation technology such as collaborative robots (cobots) will change the face of work in Southeast Asia. The technology is transforming industries, increasing productivity and output quality while improving workers wellbeing by reducing the burden of repetitive and strenuous tasks. Employees are now able to program and operate robots easily with minimal training and technical skills,” said Niels.

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