Use of industrial robots in small and medium-sized enterprises

Costs for industrial robots are decreasing

The application possibilities for industrial robots grow continuously, so that more and more tasks can be automated. Many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are in need of automation solutions but are not yet ready to purchase a robot. The biggest obstacles are the high investment costs and the necessary know-how for programming, which is usually not available in the own company. But the prognoses for 2019 are good:

In a survey conducted by Bitkom 2018, 72 percent of all companies stated that the high investment costs in automation solutions block the use of Industry 4.0 in the company. Some robot manufacturers are working on cheaper entry-level models that should enable SMEs to tackle automation as early as possible. Collaborating robots, which were barely under 50,000 euros to buy 10 years ago, today cost about 15,000 euros. In addition, the use of industrial robots with new technologies is becoming increasingly flexible so that a robot can be used for a variety of tasks within the company.

Flexible use of industrial robots

Previously, companies had to build up their own know-how for programming functional processes or rely on expensive, external service providers. That’s why industrial robots have so far been used primarily for monotonous tasks – such as in the automotive industry. It orders 40% of all industrial robots worldwide and uses them primarily for automation in production. On the other hand, in order to make the purchase worthwhile, SMEs would have to use the industrial robot for various tasks. For this reason, it is important that the robot is able to do other tasks in the morning than in the afternoon.

Robot programming as easy as using a smartphone

Robot programming as easy as the use of a smartphone – this is already possible today. With the intuitive software of drag&bot, robots without developer skills can be instructed. The functional sequences are assembled in the cloud solution using the drag-and-drop principle. Various operating and input assistances, so-called wizards, support this. The user guides the robot arm manually to the requested position, the wizard then determines the coordination automatically. The system then defines the activities such as screw holes, force regulations and the localization of workpieces. Advantage: Companies that own several robots have the opportunity to share already programmed processes via the cloud, thus making repeated use of the functional sequences. The software is hardware-independent and currently supports ABB, Kuka, Fanuc, Denso and Universal Robots.