LBR iiwa lightweight robots did a dance at the Hannover Messe opening ceremony on Sunday 24 April.
In front of almost 3,000 guests including Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Barack Obama, dancers and Kuka LBR iiw robots turned human-robot-collaboration into a staged performance.
Human-robot collaboration is a central topic for the factory of the future.
The grand opening of Hannover Messe 2016 on Sunday was based entirely on the topic of Integrated Industry – Discover Solutions.
In a spectacularly choreographed performance, seven LBR iiwa robots visually depicted the five flagship themes at Hannover Fair over five acts: Digital Factory, Industrial Supply, Industrial Automation, Research & Technology, Energy.
Becoming one of the world’s largest industrial robot companies takes time and a lot of dedication. Work, work, work. No time for play. And having got to the top, the most annoying thing for a company, like Kuka, must be to see a startup company, like DeepMind, which has yet to deliver a single commercial product, make worldwide headlines for building an artificially intelligent computer that plays an ancient Chinese board game no one understands.
So what does Kuka do to make its own headlines? Of course: find another obscure board game no one understands and teach one of its robots how to play that, and get students at a local university to do all the programming.
Kuka, one of the world’s biggest industrial robotics companies, is to develop a smart manufacturing platform in collaboration with Chinese communications giant Huawei.
Kuka and Huawei signed a deal to develop what could be a global network – built on the industrial internet of things – to enable the connection of robots across many factories. The companies say they plan to integrate artificial intelligence and deep learning into the system.
In the new manufacturing era, robots will play an increasingly important role in helping manufacturing businesses remain agile and drive growth, say the two companies.
According to Bharath Kanniappan, lead research analyst at Technavio for robotics, “The top four vendors in the global articulated robots market concentrate on the development of application-specific and industry-specific articulated robots, which help them to have a competitive edge.”
Alnea says its new robot-based soldering process is in compliance with international standards.
The soldering process used in so-called through-hole technology (THT) requires the utmost precision. The small structures and the close proximity of components that must not be wetted leave no room for error.
With THT, repair processes are time- and cost-intensive, often not reproducible and in some cases not even allowed.
After 14 years of continuous operation, a Kuka palletizing robot took up a new function recently, appearing as an art exhibit at the Italian art fair Paratissima in Turin.
The palletizing robot used to be in charge of keeping things orderly: untiring, meticulous and reliable, the KUKA robot spent 14 years sorting boxes of hinges used in furniture production.
In November 2015, it gave up its role as a diligent organizer, embracing creative chaos instead. For this, professional body painters applied their skills to transforming the robot into a work of art.
The Kuka robot was on display at the renowned Italian art fair Paratissima in Turin.
“The project was an unusual opportunity for us to share our modern robot technology with a group of people with whom we would otherwise rarely come into contact,” enthused Gian Luca Branca, CEO of Kuka Italy.
In the age of Industry 4.0, “smart factories” are developing at an unprecedented rate. Nowadays, automated, networked and variable production lines are in high demand as companies aim to respond quickly and flexibly to ever shorter product life cycles.
At the same time, the issue of how to incorporate individual customer requirements into industrial series production is growing in significance.
Finding statistics on the install base of robots is not as straightforward as it might be, but RoboticsandAutomationNews.com has compiled its own list of available data and the bar chart below is the result.
Many well known companies are missing from the list and graph, but that’s because we could not find any credible and up to date figures for their install base.
We will of course try and persuade those companies to release that information to us so that we can provide a more complete picture of the market.
We’ve called this list “Top 9”, but that is based on available information.
Update:Fanuc claims to have sold 400,000 robots worldwide. That takes it from fourth on our previous list to first place in the new 2016 list. So, Fanuc is now the world’s largest maker of industrial robots according to the latest information we have. We will update the list as and when we get more information.
Update: Epson claims to have sold 10,000 more robots worldwide since our previous list. The company says it now has 55,000 industrial robots installed worldwide. Our previous list had their install base at 45,000 – this has now been updated (below).
Update:Comau says it has 30,000 robots installed worldwide. In exclusive comments to Robotics and Automation News, a senior executive at the Italian company provided the statistic as part of an extended interview. Our previous list did not include Comau as we could not find the data – this has now been updated (below).
Update: ABB says it has 300,000 robots installed worldwide, up from our previous number of 250,000. We have updated the list, and will update the pie chart at a later date. The new figure places ABB in joint-second place, along with Yaskawa, although our list shows ABB at number 3.
Update: Foxconn says it has installed 40,000 industrial robots in China, according to reports. We had not found this in official company documents, which is why we did not initially include it in the list for now. However, the report was in a reliable publication, so we have decided to include it.
Update: Stäubli is one of the original robot manufacturers, and still one of the largest. We estimate that the company has a large number of robots installed worldwide. However, in the absence of any available data, we have made our estimate as to how many robots the company has installed worldwide.