A new world record for industrial robot production

Via The Converting Guide, Europe announced it has a worldwide installed base of over 400,000 industrial robots, a new world record for the industry.

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The recent drivers behind reaching this major milestone have been the popularity of the FANUC R-2000i Series, LR Mate series, and the CR-35iA, collaborative green robot. The FANUC R-2000i and LR Mate series are the company’s highest selling robots, while the collaborative robot has attracted new attention of customers.

Collaborative robots brought a variety of benefits to the manufacturing plant floor including improved employee welfare and increased cost savings.

At the same time, demand from manufacturers in China to transform their factories with new and emerging technologies has fueled production for industrial robots, and has played a major role in the doubling of FANUC production over the last seven years.

Head of Marketing and Sales Coordination of FANUC Europe, Konrad Grohs said: “Toda’s milestone underlines our position as the world’s leading global provider of factory automation and industrial robotics. We’re incredibly proud to have broken the world record and we believe this is testament to FANUC’s longstanding commitment to innovation, and continually pushing the boundaries of automation to increase productivity.

“Over the coming years, we will build on our rapid growth to help even more manufacturers across the world take advantage of the benefits that robotics and automation bring to their businesses. We believe that benefits of factory automation and robotisation will be better recognized also in European plants and will further increase the competitiveness of European industry.”

Original Source: Materials Handling & Logistics

How is India Using Robots?

India’s largest flexible packaging company, Uflex, is setting up a robotic plant for producing gravure cylinders at its Noida location. The company, which is the largest fully integrated flexible packaging solution provider to a range of clients across industries both in India and overseas, enjoys a formidable market presence in more than 140 countries. Since its inception in 1983, Uflex has grown from strength to strength to evolve as a truly Indian multinational with consumers spread across the world. Uflex today has state-of-the-art packaging facilities at multiple locations in India and film manufacturing facilities in India, the UAE, Mexico, Egypt, Poland and the USA.

“The robotic plant in Noida for producing gravure cylinders will be ready by January 2016,” says PK Agarwal, joint president, Uflex – Cylinder Division. “The technology is from Think Laboratory in Japan. Our people have already received the training and got a demo as well. The whole cylinder-making process will now become a one-man operation. It will need just one man to put the steel rollers on the rack and the engraved and finished cylinders will come out automatically at a rate of 80 cylinders a day.” If the robotic plant in Noida is successful, Uflex may add another robotic plant in Jammu, according to Agarwal. Jammu is coming up as the next important production site, after Noida for Uflex, with eight gravure printing presses – all Ceruttis and Bobst Rotomecs – and a pair of wide-web CI flexo presses – one each from Bobst F&K and Comexi.

“In Jammu we are already producing 6,000 gravure cylinders annually and very soon we will increase it to about 8,000,” says Agarwal. “My focus is to do 70% packaging business and 30% special value addition business – both gravure and flexo combined. In flexo, we are looking at going towards digitally imaged sleeves and plates based on elastomers and in Jammu we are in the process of installing our new Lead direct laser for producing flexo plates both as flat forms to be mounted on the plate cylinder and also for elastomer sleeve plates. “The Xeikon digital flexo imager in our Noida plant is working round-the-clock and due to increased demand, we have ordered another Xeikon for Noida which is likely to be installed in the November 2015 timeframe.

Agarwal says, “One advantage of Lead laser direct imaging of elastomer plates is that the plates themselves are extremely robust.” He is interested in exploring niche markets and in providing gravure embossing rollers for several materials such as leather, paper (for greeting and invitation cards) and aluminium foil (for pharmaceutical packaging). “We will try embossing in some of our packaging products also – initially on paper-based packaging products and later, on laminates for pouches too,” says Agarwal

China robot sales to triple by 2018

Reuters reports that China is trying to modernize its industrial production and has identified robotics as a major area for growth amid labor shortages and fast-rising wages.

The world’s second-largest economy still has far lower robot penetration than other big industrialized economies – just 36 per 10,000 manufacturing workers versus 478 in South Korea, 315 in Japan, 292 in Germany and 164 in the United States.

Frankfurt-based IFR said in a statement that annual robot sales to China would jump to 150,000 by 2018, up from 57,000 in 2014. “The robotics industry is exhibiting rapid growth – completely unperturbed by the current economic fallow period experienced by other areas of Chinese industry,” China Robot Industry Alliance Secretary General Song Xiaogang said in IFR’s statement.

China’s robot market is still dominated by foreign players like ABB, Kuka and Yaskawa but China is encouraging its own robot makers with subsidies and the number of Chinese robotics firms is growing fast. Few of them have their own technology and struggle to compete on price alone, but in the long run the domestic robot industry is expected to become a leading force.

More Robots Means More Jobs

Packaging World reports that data contained in a new white paper from The Association for Advancing Automation (A3) argues with the perception that increasing the use of robots causes higher rates of unemployment in the U.S.

The white paper, “Robots Fuel the Next Wave of U.S. Productivity and Job Growth,” uses data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and a wide range of manufacturing firms to document how and why increasing the use of robots is associated with increased employment.

Key statistics from the A3 white paper show that during the non-recessionary periods—1996-2000, 2002-2007, and 2010-2014—general employment and robot shipments both increased. Since 2010, the robotics industry in the U.S. has grown substantially. Even during this period of record-breaking robot sales, U.S. employment increased.

“We are seeing concrete shifts in the factors that resulted in cuts to the U.S. manufacturing workforce over the past few decades,” says Jeff Burnstein, President of A3. “Manufacturing automation increasingly provides the flexibility in the variety of tasks robots perform to drive improvements in overall product quality and time to market.

“One of the biggest challenges we now face is closing the skills gap to fill jobs. Robots are optimizing production more than ever, increasing global competitiveness and performing dull, dirty, and dangerous tasks that enable companies to create higher-skilled, better-paying, and safer jobs where people use their brains, not their brawn.”

Notes the paper, as companies seek to bring manufacturing operations stateside while remaining cost-competitive, they continue to turn to automation to help lead the new wave of productivity and job growth in the U.S.

Says Geoff Escalette, CEO of faucet-maker RSS Manufacturing & Phylrich, “The whole premise for our company is to bring manufacturing back to this country, and our new robot fits perfectly with that master plan. Our robot not only makes it possible to increase production speed without buying additional CNC machines, but also helped us open up 30 percent more capacity on existing machinery.”