Automation and the survival of manufacturing.

27th July, 2020
Automation and the survival of manufacturing.

From the global labour shortage to the unexpected challenges Covid-19 has presented, automation has never been more relevant to the survival of manufacturing.

Universal Robots, the global leader in automation, boasts a ten-year legacy in developing and providing collaborative robots across the world. Its footprint has developed significantly across Ireland and the UK in more recent years.

Samantha Cummins Byrne, Irish Development Lead at Universal Robots, says, “there’s been a really positive shift in the perception of automation here in Ireland which has opened up a strong market for us with manufacturing businesses in various sectors such as pharma, electronics, food and construction.

“Our entire goal at Universal Robots is to better business efficiency to increase profitability and improve employee safety. These are actually the primary concerns manufacturing businesses are facing and actively trouble-shooting, as we know from our experience with manufacturers that issues such as labour shortages, employee safety and even floor-space for employees can prevent them from competing in this highly-challenging market. And now of course, the pandemic has made some of these even greater to overcome.

“Our cobots have resolved issues for thousands of manufacturers and the work we’ve done in the last couple of years has brought about hugely positive impacts to the profitability, efficiency and culture of Irish businesses, mainly due to the versatility in the functions our cobots can fulfil. They are currently being used in dispensing, welding, screwdriving, inspection, finishing and other assembly line tasks. We invest heavily in research and development to ensure our cobots and their applications respond to the real needs of businesses.

“Our cobots can be trusted to look after important tasks while also freeing up human staff to focus on brain-led tasks such as innovation. Cobots, as a portmanteau of collaborative and robots, details how they were specifically designed to collaborate and work right alongside humans so very different to the traditional, caged robots some might be familiar with.

“Our cobots and our teams are at the very peak of innovation but on the contrary are highly-accessible. Firstly, they are extremely cost-effective. Customers experience the financial benefits of their investment in just a couple of months. We offer a leasing programme too to combat cash flow and seasonal fluctuations which is great for SMEs.

“The consistency of our cobots is a real draw for businesses too. For example, tightening screws or sanding a piece of wood will always be done with the same tension and pressure, removing the risk of human error.

“Our cobots can be situated in small spaces and are intentionally built to interact or collaborate with humans. Now with distancing in mind, cobots are a great option so that businesses don’t need to see a drop in their output while keeping staff safe. Cobots are so easy to programme they can be redeployed to different areas as required in just a couple of hours and so are a real support in peak production times or when there are unexpected staff shortages.

“Interestingly, our customers tell us regularly that their human workforce feels motivated and rewarded by the arrival of a cobot as it means they are given. The opportunity to upskill in automation programming, while also no longer having to complete harmful or repetitive tasks.

“It’s this powerful combination of accessibility and innovation that allows Irish businesses of all sizes to be part of the new automation revolution and build up their resilience. With current crisis in mind, we’d urge businesses, regardless of size, to get in touch and discover how our suite of cobots can give them a competitive edge and safeguard operations for the future.

“Having entered the Irish market in 2015, we’ve made a significant impact in terms of changing the perception of automation and educating businesses here, along with the support of our distribution partners, and Reliance Automation. That said, there is still lots of opportunity to continue educating and challenging the perception that automation is a threat to jobs.

“As our cobots only take very basic programming training to operate, Universal Robots has been taking a leading role here in Ireland to offer as many free resources as we can.

“In response to immediate challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve created a free online suite of educational resources that will remain available to support Irish businesses to remotely discover how automation can transform its operations over the coming weeks. This free online suite includes our Online Academy which allows users to complete easy-to-follow modules to learn basic cobot programming and upskill in automation and also receive an official certification on completion.

“It also includes our Online Meetings which allows users to avail of a one-on-one online meeting with a local member of the Universal Robots team to discuss how collaborative robots could be of benefit to their business.”

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