This conversation came to me from the Hannover Messe Digital Event. It’s rather interesting in that these people market robotic solutions. They think, however, that sometimes (often?) companies implement high-end and sophisticated automation and robotics that are often too complicated to be used. So, they are turned off. I learned first-hand as a provider of automation technology when the user/operator does not understand or even fears the technology or when the user interface is too complicated then the system will be turned off and manual operations will be used.

These comments are worth considering when planning new projects.

Manufacturers in Europe struggle with new automation and robotisation solutions as the technologies they deploy do not provide the desired return on investment and often end up standing idle. Torsten Christensen, partner and co-founder at ChangeForce, a Danish industrial consultancy firm, states that this could be changed by shifting focus towards standardised robots in-house employees would be capable of tuning.

“Europe, as well as the rest of the world, is heading to a new record of operational industrial robot stock in 2020, but these raw numbers tell only one half of the story. In reality, I think the industrial robotics industry is experiencing something we witnessed some 20-25 years ago in the dot-com era: lots of hype coupled with a low return on investment, heavy reliance on third-party integrators and, quite often, complex machines not returning the expected value. I believe European manufacturers, first and foremost the SMEs, should take one step back and rethink their robotisation strategies to avoid even larger disappointments,” T. Christensen says.

He is seconded by Thomas Ronlev, the CEO at Factobotics, a Danish-Lithuanian maker of standard industrial robots, presenting RoboBend, the world’s first standard sheet metal bending robot, and Flexy-Weld, a unique flexible robot welding solution, at Hannover Messe Digital Edition this week.

Th. Ronlev says that the risk of robotisation failures further exacerbated by a very high current robotic solutions cost. His company aims at traditional industrial processes and custom situations that can be scalable across a broader array of manufacturers.

“European manufacturers often believe their production processes are unique. They are also often convinced that entire production and supply chains be automated. I think that truth is much more down to earth: some processes are indeed ripe for automation, but not all of them, let alone at once. We would see a much higher degree of satisfaction if companies started from simple processes and standard robotic solutions that come at a fraction of the cost and are easy to master. Some of the most successful factories use relatively simple robotics,” Th. Ronlev says.

Factobotics has been demonstrating its solutions tackling these challenges at HM Digital Edition this week. RoboBend robot solves the problem of finding qualified machine operators, provides higher capacity on the company’s present machines, lowers production costs and consistently delivers high quality. RoboBend is designed to make it simple to use at any production environment, for any worker with no special training.

The company has also been demonstrating Flexy-Weld, a unique flexible robot welding solution that is currently in development and field-testing phase in Lithuanian metal processing company LT Technologies. This solution, based on an innovative flexible hexapod technology FlexHex that adapts to any new piece and holds it in place for welding, completely eliminates the need for jigs/fixtures. Flexy-Weld also dramatically increases flexibility and agility of production, eliminates the need for hundreds of different jigs/fixtures (warehousing, time waste), therefore increasing capacity and productivity, saving time and increasing earnings.. Attached are a few pictures, too.

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