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OnRobot and OptoForce target 250 per cent growth in Southeast Asia

Robotic solutions providers OnRobot and OptoForce – which are both now part of one single company – are aggressively targeting Southeast Asia, aiming to grow 250 per cent in the region this year.

Executives at the companies believe the increased demand will come from the electronics, automotive and CNC machining industries.

This new assessment follows the appointment of Niels Ole Sinkbæk Sørensen as sales manager, Asia Pacific, who oversees business expansion in the region for both companies, based in Kuala Lumpur. 

From 2010 to 2015 robot numbers rose 70 per cent to 887,400 units. By 2025, it is estimated that 700,000 collaborative robots will be installed globally.

Sørensen is recruiting and training a local team of technical, sales and marketing talents. Over 15 technology distributors and system integrators in Southeast Asia, who are well versed with local markets, are being trained in product knowledge and applications. Industrial robot uptake is accelerating in Asia.

Commenting on the promise of Southeast Asia, Sørensen says: “We see increasing robotic solution adoption in Southeast Asia with Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia leading the region in industrial robot density. This makes the region an important market with huge potential.

“Advances in robotics and automation technology such as collaborative robots (cobots) will change the face of work in Southeast Asia. The technology is transforming industries, increasing productivity and output quality while improving workers wellbeing by reducing the burden of repetitive and strenuous tasks.

“Employees are now able to program and operate robots easily with minimal training and technical skills.”

Southeast Asia is a powerhouse for the automotive industry in Asia. In Q1 2018, the region’s production rose 7.3 per cent to 1.09 billion vehicles, led by Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.

The automotive industry has been the largest driver of the robotics industry worldwide for decades.

The market value for cobots in the global automotive industry was $23.5 million in 2015 and is projected to reach $470 million by 2021, at an annual growth rate of 64.67 per cent between 2015 and 2021.

Electronics is the largest export sector in Southeast Asia, comprising 25 per cent of the region’s total exports in goods.

Top electronics producers include Thailand, Philippines and Malaysia. Electronics is the second largest cobot integrator, accounting for 18 per cent of global demand in 2015.

By 2021, electronics is forecast to invest approximately $475 million in cobots.

Making robotic automation easy

Based in Denmark, On Robot specialises in electric two-finger grippers, namely RG2 and RG6, for cobots.

The grippers are compact, energy efficient and have adjustable parameters. The On Robot software and gripper provide feedback to the cobot for greater functionality.

Following the ‘plug and produce’ concept, they can be deployed quickly and easily on all Universal Robots (UR)’ cobot arms without external cables.

They are used in various industries from electronics and automotive to banking and agriculture, carrying out pick and place, machine tending, packaging, testing and other tasks.

Hungarian OptoForce is a leading provider of multi-axis force and torque sensors for most industrial robots, combining silicone and infrared light.

The sensors equip robots with a sense of touch. It can feel very small counterforces and make the corresponding course corrections in real time.

This allows assembly tasks which require high precision to be automated such as pin insertion, arc welding and surface-finishing work like polishing, sanding and deburring.

OptoForce sensors have robust structures capable of withstanding high dynamic shocks, while being among the most precise sensors on the market.

The OptoForce software also includes 14 pre-programmed applications when applied with a UR cobot, enabling easy, quick and cost-effective programming.

Sørensen says: “Robotic technology is helping businesses automate their processes easily, operate more sustainably and provide safer working conditions.

“Our technology allows robots to be programmed to perform complex, intricate tasks and work safely alongside people. Subsequently, workers can focus on tasks that require ingenuity and dexterity, while robots manage repetitive and strenuous tasks.

“We invest significantly in R&D and have developed technologies that are affordable for SMEs and foster easy automation adoption. Our tools are safe and easily deployed.

“They can be programmed by workers without any prior knowledge in robotics, making automation well within reach for SMEs in the region.”

OnRobot and OptoForce applications

Rosborg Greenhouse, Denmark’s largest herb producer, employed OnRobot’s RG6 gripper to eliminate monotonous work and reduce high labour cost.

The gripper is used alongside a cobot for packing delicate herbs. The gripper’s flexibility, wide stroke and gentle grip were key to choosing OnRobot as the ideal solution for the application.

At Nara Institute of Science and Technology’s robotics laboratory in Japan, many research applications require the use of a robot to touch or push objects.

Applications include grasping, detecting and recognising textiles, folding clothes, pouring liquid from rigid or deformable containers, drilling holes and weighing objects.

The OptoForce sensors high overload capabilities and compliance offered NAIST the ideal solution.

The sensors are sturdy and able to withstand adverse conditions, allowing students to use them independently.