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Universal Robots partners with Nissan to increase manufacturing productivity through collaborative robots

Universal Robots says Nissan has simplified processes, reduced relief worker costs and stabilised production output through deployment of the company’s UR10 cobots

Universal Robots says the Nissan Motor Company has successfully deployed Universal Robots’ UR10 robot arms at its Yokohama factory. 

The automaker joins other global automotive manufacturers including BMW and Volkswagen who are using Universal Robots’ collaborative robots (cobots) to automate their processes.

Universal Robots says that through the deployment of its cobots, Nissan has enhanced its production processes, resulting in a higher level of output and stability as well as time and cost efficiencies. Nissan’s ageing workforce also enjoy a reduced workload, and were redeployed to less strenuous tasks. 

Shermine Gotfredsen, general manager, SEA and Oceania, says: “We are excited to be working with Nissan in their automation journey.

“The global automotive industry plays a key role in driving the adoption of collaborative robots (cobots) to produce better manufacturing output, and this is critical for industry players to stay competitive.

“Universal Robots is at the forefront of this trend; our cobots effectively support process automation, resulting in improved safety standards and less strain on human employees.

“This can be applied not only in the automotive industry, but also in the manufacturing of electronics and electrical, pharma and chemistry, and food and agriculture.”

Cobots are an offshoot of traditional industrial robots. They are lightweight and mobile in terms of deployment, and are flexible enough to be modified for different applications.

The automotive industry uses cobots in a wide variety of processes including handling, assembling, packaging, palletizing, labelling, painting, quality control and machine tending.

The market value for collaborative industrial robots in the automotive industry was $24 million in 2015 and is projected to reach $470 million by 2021, at a growth rate of 65 per cent between 2015 and 2021.

Collaborative industrial robots in southeast Asia’s automotive industry 

The automotive industry in southeast Asia is poised for great growth with large markets experiencing important sales growth.

As a key manufacturing hub producing for Asia and the world, SEA’s automotive sector has grown at 11 per cent annually between 2010 and 2015.

The upcoming implementation of the Association of South-East Asian Nations Free-Trade Area is expected to lower import and export taxes in the region, further driving demand for cost-effective regionally manufactured vehicles.

UR10 robot arms at Nissan Motor Company

Nissan needed to streamline its production process at its large-scale Yokohama plant. The company also needed to manage labour costs with an aeging workforce and the associated loss of vital skills.

Mr Nakamura, expert headman for the plant’s engine section, says: “We needed a robot large enough to carry hefty intake manifold components, weighing up to 6 kgs.

“On comparison with other companies’ robots, we selected the UR10 due to its cost advantages for a single robot, as well as its weight capacity. In the process of installing the intake manifolds, only the UR10 robot arm had the payload of 10 kg among the other products we considered.”

Universal Robots’ cobots are collaborative industrial robot arms that can automate processes and tasks that weigh up to 10 kg, and require precision and reliability.

With a reach radius of up to 1300mm, the cobots are designed to be more effective at tasks across a larger area, and can save time on production lines where distance can be a factor, says the company.

Universal Robots’ cobots are said to be easy to program and set up. They are designed to work alongside humans, as a tool, to help simplify and speed up tasks that might be complicated, or require greater physical strength.

After deliberating on the range of safety and features required, Nissan decided on using the UR10 robot arms which were easily installed, programmed and operational within a week.

The deployment of UR10 robot arms at Nissan reduced production time and quality as well as allowed employees to be relieved of monotonous tasks, allowing them to obtain valuable line experience elsewhere, according to the company.

Subsection chief of engine section Hai Onishi said: “We are able to quickly respond to potential production time overruns as we can easily move the UR10 to work on any process in the plant where the issue has been identified.

“We plan to further the use of cobots by integrating the strong on-site and engineering capabilities, which will increase our level of cobots deployment going forward.”

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