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‘Innovative’ Škoda factory introduces human-robot collaboration with Kuka LBR iiwa

Škoda Auto, Matador Group and Kuka have come together in the town of Vrchlabí, Czech Republic, for what they say is “a manufacturing initiative without borders or fences”.

The project is being undertaken in an automobile factory which produces direct-shift-gearbox automatic transmissions.

There, an industrial robot does what industrial robots do best: grow productivity, reduce costs and improve output quality. 

skoda factory kuka

The companies say the project is taking human-robot collaboration on the factory floor to a new dimension, mainly because it involves the removal of the safety fencing that normally surrounds industrial robots.

Škoda Auto, Matador Group and Kuka are the corporate descendants of firms that began business on the periphery of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Their combined journeys have taken them from the conclusion of the Industrial Revolution to the commencement of Industry 4.0 in which humans and robots increasingly work together and factories become more data driven.

With roots starting in 19th century bicycle making, Škoda Auto has been making vehicles for more than a century and has been a part of the Volkswagen Group since 1991.

The Matador Group is also more than 100 years old, and has increasingly focused on digital factories and Industry 4.0. Kuka, one of the world’s largest industrial robot manufacturers and a provider of solutions for factory automation, is a key enabler in this three-cornered venture that involves hardware, software and people.