James Taylor, APAC General Manager of OnRobot, told Kathryn Gerardino-Elagio of International Metalworking News for Asia in an email interview, how the company and its latest 3-Finger Electric Gripper product, can keep businesses in South East Asia operate smoothly during this time of crisis.
IMNA: What are some of the recent and larger challenges Asian manufacturers faced, and what do you think can be done to overcome these issues with 3-Finger Electric Gripper in mind?
James Taylor: There are several key challenges Asian manufacturers face. The very immediate challenge is not being able to operate at full capacity or even at all due to manpower shortages, with city and country lockdowns and travel restrictions. Even during normal times manufacturers in Asia face challenges with increasing global competition, finding skilled labour, and aging populations.
And although they see automation as a potential solution to some of these challenges, they are not always aware of the solutions they have available to them and perceive automation as complex and intimidating. This can lead to hesitancy on automation as manufacturers cannot decide how to automate certain tasks or how to choose the right tools.
At OnRobot we focus on removing the barriers to automation by reducing complexity while enhancing flexibility. Our One-Stop-Shop for collaborative applications offers multiple tools for multiple applications and multiple robots. By offering unified programming and easy deployment for all our products we help manufacturers of all skill and technology levels achieve their automation goals.
Our new three-finger electric gripper, the 3FG15, is a fantastic addition to OnRobot’s growing portfolio of products. While our RG2 and RG6 series’ two-finger grippers are well received and widely deployed, the 3FG15 three-finger gripper was introduced to address challenges with traditional pneumatic 3-finger grippers, which are less flexible and bulkier.
OnRobot’s 3FG15 three-finger gripper specialises in automating precision handling of cylindrical parts. The gripper’s design automatically centres workpieces, resulting in fast deployment with a strong, stable grip and precise placement. The new gripper excels at heavy-payload machine-tending applications that require high precision and flexible handling. Like all OnRobot grippers, the 3FG15 is part of our One System, Zero Complexity solution and offers seamless integration with any major collaborative or light industrial robot arm.
IMNA: What do you think sets OnRobot apart from its competitors?
James Taylor: OnRobot’s vision is to be the market leader as a One Stop Shop for Collaborative Applications. We aim to increase the adoption of automation through enabling applications. The OnRobot One System Solution is a game changer for the industry, significantly simplifying automation by offering seamless integration with any major collaborative or light industrial robot arm. Our flexible, highly versatile tools can also be easily integrated into diverse production environments. Our easy-to-deploy solutions are a big change from the traditional customisation approach, which is complex, costly and time-consuming.
OnRobot leads in innovation and is especially focused on providing a full line of plug-and-produce tools for collaborative applications. OnRobot’s range of grippers, sensors and tool changers allow manufacturers to easily automate various tasks such as material handling, assembling, packaging and machine tending.
We provide seamless compatibility through our unified mechanical interfaces, application programming, and new award-winning One System Solution, making it quicker, simpler and more cost effective for manufacturers to maximise collaborative applications and deploy automation.
Our collaborative technologies are designed for easy programming, allowing small manufacturers to take control of their automation plans, experimenting and integrating new applications independently as new needs arise. This allows quick learning of how to use and adapt the tooling for new, more efficient processes with minimal downtime between changes.
For robots that connect through digital I/O, the new OnRobot One System Solution includes a WebLogic interface. Using the IP address of the OnRobot Compute Box, manufacturers can sign in via the OnRobot WebClient from a mobile phone or any other network-connected device to monitor the robot, or to create simple robot programs.
As the adoption of automation and robots increases across the region, the range and effectiveness of collaborative tools will play a more significant role in enabling more applications and further driving wider adoption across different manufacturing sectors.
IMNA: How involved is OnRobot from a manufacturing and marketing standpoint in South East Asia?
James Taylor: OnRobot has a regional APAC office in Singapore and offices in China, Japan and Korea. We have experienced sales and technical support teams in our APAC offices to support manufacturers in South East Asia and across Asia. The APAC operations are supported by manufacturing in Denmark with R&D in both Europe and the United States.
We also have sales partners in every major market in South East Asia to ensure that we are able to service customers’ needs in local languages and cultures. Through this network we are able to keep close to market requirements and ensure our offerings meet local needs.
We continue to place great emphasis on and invest in Southeast Asia as an important market for OnRobot. We participate in exhibitions, events and seminars organised by industry, and institutions of higher learning, to share our knowledge in automation and collaborative applications. For example, OnRobot is a member of the Singapore Industrial Automation Association, a professional trade association for companies and professionals in the Automation, Internet-of-Things (IoT) and Robotics sector.
In 2019, we participated in the Robotics & AI Made Easy seminar hosted by the National University of Singapore where we shared our insights on Intelligent End of Arm Tooling and Accessories for Collaborative Applications.
OnRobot also participated in the International Robot Exhibition (iREX) 2019, the world’s leading intelligent robot technology exhibition held in Tokyo, Japan, where we launched our VGC10 – Compact Electric Vacuum Gripper. We also have extensive marketing and PR activities across the region.
While continuing our involvement with associations and suitable seminars in Asia, we are establishing partnerships across Southeast Asia, which will provide wider distribution of our tools and solutions to manufacturers.
IMNA: What are the company’s business plans in South East Asia for 2020, and beyond?
James Taylor: South East Asia and Asia as a whole is an important market for OnRobot as we see growing investment in robotic automation and a greater push by governments to encourage adoption. As we continue to develop partnerships with robot manufacturers and other key players across Asia, we aim to be the market leader as the one-stop-shop solutions provider in collaborative applications.
IDC has predicted that spending on robotics and associated services in Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) will reach US$129.4 billion by 2022, three times the 2018 spending, with a five-year CAGR of 25.2% during 2017-2022.
We will continue to develop and introduce new products to specially meet the needs and demands of manufacturers in this part of the world, supporting the sector’s short and long-term resilience and competitiveness.
OnRobot works with many manufacturers and is expanding its portfolio of products to provide manufacturers with a wide range of automation solutions that not only offer flexibility and increased production efficiency, but also easy deployment and a quick return on investment.
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